1. Toyota's New Sports Car
2011 has been a big year for the auto industry, and for auto enthusiasts. Along with rebounding sales, we’ve seen the debut of some amazing performance machines, from the newest BMW M5, to a 650-hp Ford Shelby GT500. But no car captured headlines quite like Toyota’s new affordable sports car. First unveiled as a concept two years ago, Toyota shocked the industry with the FT-86, a vehicle completely outside its comfort zone. It was a sports car, a proper rear-wheel drive one, designed for enthusiasts and purists, and it was beautiful. Toyota promised it would be one of the greatest handling cars money can buy, and yet it wouldn’t cost anything like the $375,000 LFA supercar. Rather, it would be affordable. Very affordable. And while we have driven the car, pricing hasn’t yet been released, although it’s expected to come in somewhere around the $25,000 mark.
Much like how General Motors is using the Volt to help rebrand itself, the Toyota 86 or GT 86 (sold in America as the Scion FR-S) is a similar move for Toyota. The Japanese automaker is already known for its green-car leadership, but it’s also known for building the Corolla and numerous similar machines; fantastic as reliable modes of transportation but utterly devoid of a soul.
Hyped for two solid years, with plenty of concepts and leaked information, not to mention early rumors of a twin offering by Subaru (which turned out to be true), the car finally made its big debut at the Tokyo Motor Show. Amazing in concept, doubt continued to hang about the car. Could Toyota really build a car that’s fun to drive?
And so the fate of the FR-S rested solely on the driving experience it would deliver. If a dud, it would prove Toyota was in fact a lost cause for anyone who actually appreciates cars, but if it delivered, the FR-S could usher in a new era for Toyota. AutoGuide was lucky enough to be one of a select few to drive the FR-S just after it’s launch. Toyota’s new sports car vanquished our doubts, as a track test of the machine left us calling it an “icon.” Read the review for yourself here.