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Toyota to build FR-S based rally car

The World Rally Championship website has broken the news that Toyota will build a new version of the FR-S for rally racing. Good news, but will it have any more power?

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Toyota is building a new version of the Scion FR-S for rally racing according to the FIA WRC website. The car will compete not in the Word Rally Championship, but in a different class. Nonetheless, fans of the FR-S, and its twin, the Subaru BRZ, are very excited about this new development. Racing breeds excellence and the FR-S and BRZ are not perfect cars, but could easily be.

Internationally the FR-S is a Toyota car and it is called the GT86. The name is a nod to the old Corolla AE86, rear-drive sports car much loved by Toyota fans. Rear-drive is fun, and it is by far the best set-up for an on-road sports car, GT car, or roadster. However, in the world of rally racing rear-drive is a throw-back. Most low-cost rally cars are front-wheel drive. The “real” rally cars are all exclusively all-wheel drive. The FR-S is also normally aspirated, meaning it is a non-turbocharged car. Again, all the “real” rally cars are turbocharged, and have very small displacement. Less than the 2.0 liters the FR-S has.

The FR-S will be a very fun and affordably rally car in its grouping. It would be fun to see it and the Subaru BRZ team up, but Toyota didn’t make any mention of that. Instead, the car will be produced by Toyota’s German-based motorsport division, Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG). Nico Ehlert, TMG’s principal engineer customer motorsport Toyota was quoted on the WRC site as saying “Rallying is in our blood at TMG so it is very exciting to announce that we will be expanding our rally operations. The GT86 CS-R3 promises to be a thrilling car on the rally stages; with rear-wheel drive we can expect some dramatic action which is sure to be entertaining for drivers and fans alike.” The car is to be made available to private teams.

Subaru has not made any announcement about the BR-Z being used in rally racing. That makes sense. Subaru’s WRX version of the Impreza epitomizes rally, regardless of the fact that the engine used in the road-car is now too large for WRC. In fact, the whole vehicle is too large now. That does not change the iconic image in most rally fans’ minds of a blue Suby streaking through the air.

There will be many small changes to the FR-S for rallying, but the biggest change announced is that the gearbox will be a sequential shift six-speed. Sequential shift cars are used only in racing and usually have either no clutch, or use a clutch only for starting from a dead stop in first. There was no mention of the engine in the press release. The FR-S is imperfect only in its lack of torque. We have driven it and found the stick-shift car entertaining, but the automatic is a complete dog. This announcement comes the same week that Toyota announced it would show a convertible FR-S at an upcoming trade show. Toyota plans to have the special rally cars ready for the 2015 season.

Facts courtesy of the FIA WRC site
Photo courtesy of the Scion press site

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