Behind the distinctly Japanese styling lies a fresh modular rear-wheel drive architecture that could spawn more variants driving what enthusiasts often tag the ‘correct’ wheels.
Better, a six-speed manual transmission is standard, though Toyota isn’t actually saying what engine powers the S-FR that will debut at the Tokyo motor show next month.
Either way, the 86 could soon have a smaller sibling. At 3.9 metres long it stops 242mm shorter than the current production Toyota coupe, while its 1.695m width makes it 85mm narrower.
Toyota clearly states the S-FR – which stands for sports, front-engine, rear-drive – is a concept only for now, but that it “continues the proud heritage of Toyota's fun-to-drive lightweight sports cars.”
“Pitched as an entry-level model, the new concept emphasizes responsiveness, and aims to make a whole new generation fall in love with driving,” the company statement continues, which sounds a) fantastic; and b) like Toyota chief and driving enthusiast Akio Toyoda hasn’t lied when he said he wants the brand to offer more fun-to-drive cars.
“The concept's compact body is incredibly light, yet offers a smooth driving style,” the statement continues.
“Not just a sports car, it pairs the simplicity of an entry-level model with an intimacy that brings human and machine closer together.
“Benefiting from the unique advantages of a lightweight sports car, the concept offers smooth, responsive and direct handling that gives a real sense of communication between car and driver – one key benefit of the FR (front engine/rear drive) format.”
Toyota says the S-FR comes with “optimal” weight distribution of 50:50 front/rear and independent suspension all ‘round. Apparently the S-FR has been designed for a “die hard” fan base who will love driving and customising it, despite its clear positioning as a budget entry coupe.
Sounds like a Mazda MX-5 fanbase, then, and with the new model tinier than an 86 and weighing a smidge over 1000kg, it appears the cutesy S-FR could target that Japanese rival with even cheaper pricing.
Toyota Australia is keeping tight lipped about whether it will make production, let alone whether the S-FR will make it to our shores – and we’re unsure how the cutesy styling would be received here, despite fine credentials (manual/rear-drive/50:50 weight distribution).
Get your free weekly report from the world of fast cars - subscribe to the MOTOR newsletter!