Toyota officials initially said they would keep the names of Scion models even after the youth-focused brand went away, so we expected to see the Toyota iA, Toyota iM, and Toyota FR-S in showrooms this fall. But Toyota took the opportunity to refresh its rear-wheel-drive sports coupe, renaming the Scion FR-S as the 2017 Toyota 86.
That name matches up with the fact that the Toyota is known as the 86, GT86, or FT86 in other markets worldwide; nerds will like to note that 86 is also the bore and stroke of the car’s 2.0-liter flat-four engine, in millimeters.
Speaking of the engine, it receives its first serious upgrade since the Toyota/Scion coupe launched. On manual-transmission models, the engine now makes 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque, up from 200 hp and 151 lb-ft. Toyota says the extra power came from revising the intake system, and reducing pumping losses within the engine. The manual transmission’s final-drive ratio has also been shortened for snappier acceleration. (Opt for the automatic transmission, however, and you get the old power ratings.) As of now, it’s too early to tell whether the 86’s Subaru BRZ counterpart will receive similar updates.
Toyota has also changed the suspension spring rates and damper tuning for the 2017 86; the company says the changes result in “enhanced control and agile performance.”
To signal all this newness to the world, the 2017 Toyota 86 receives a new look, starting with a restyled front fascia with a new grille opening, as well as new head- and taillights, and a new rear bumper. The alloy wheels have been redesigned, and there are new “86” badges on each fender. Inside, the steering wheel finally adopts controls for the sound system — though purists appreciated the simplicity of the old button-free three-spoke wheel — and there are new materials for the door panels and seats.
The updates should help juice sales of the 2017 Toyota 86. As is the case with many sports cars, even ones as affordable as the FR-S/86, sales have fallen every year since the car was launched. In 2015, the FR-S finished the year with 10,507 U.S. sales, down more than 25 percent compared to 2014.
The 2017 Toyota 86 reaches dealerships this fall.