Image: Scion FR-S
Richard Drew  /  AP
Scion showed its FR-S concept car Wednesday during a media preview of the 2011 New York auto show. The Toyota division is taking its youth-oriented brand in a new direction with a sexy, rear-wheel-drive sports car.
By
updated 4/21/2011 11:45:56 AM ET 2011-04-21T15:45:56

Toyota Motor Corp. is taking its youth-oriented Scion division — known for the boxy xB — in a new direction with a sexy, rear-wheel-drive sports car.

Scion showed the FR-S Wednesday during a media preview of the New York Auto Show. While the car is still a concept, which means it's not guaranteed to be built, Scion vice president Jack Hollis said there is no doubt that the brand will be bringing out a car very similar to the FR-S sometime next year.

The FR-S is almost the complete opposite of the tiny, square-ish Scion iQ, which also will be at the New York show. That car, which was originally due out on July 1, has had its launch pushed back indefinitely because of the March 11 earthquake in Japan. Hollis said the iQ will offer young urbanites a new level of luxury in a subcompact, including industry-first air bags in the back window.

Hollis said the FR-S might not immediately seem to fit with Scion's image as a maker of inexpensive, youthful cars. He also said the FR-S will prove that Scion is still a brand that's willing to experiment.

"We can't continue to say Scion is a lab for trying things if we don't try things," he said.

Hollis said the FR-S is based on the AE86 version of the Corolla, a rear-wheel-drive coupe that was sold from 1983 to 1987. It's part of the revamp of products envisioned by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, an avid race car driver.

"Akio has made it clear that he wants to bring the 'fun-to-drive' spirit back to Toyota," Hollis said.

UNDER THE HOOD: Toyota is using a Subaru 2.0-liter Boxer engine because its compact size and flat shape allow it to be mounted lower and further toward the rear. That gives the car a lower center of gravity and better driving performance. Hollis said he doesn't know whether Subaru plans to build a similar vehicle using the engine. No fuel economy numbers were released, but Hollis said the car would have "surprising" fuel economy for a sports car.

INSIDE: The inside of the concept car wasn't shown, but Hollis said any production model would continue Scion's tradition of offering plenty of perks, like keyless entry and panoramic moon roofs.

IN SHOWROOMS: The FR-S is still a concept, but Hollis said a car based on the concept will be coming out next year. The car would cost less than $30,000.

CHEERS: The FR-S is a great-looking car in that meets a low-priced sports car need filled by only a handful of other products, like the Mitsubishi Eclipse.

JEERS: While the new Scion tC sedan has been a fairly strong seller, Scion still seems to be floundering to establish its identity, and the addition of the FR-S to its lineup will not help consumers figure out just what Scion is. Toyota's racing history belongs to the Toyota brand, and so should the FR-S, some critics will say.

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Photos: New York auto show

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  1. A model stands next to a Chrysler 300 S on display at the 2011 New York auto show in New York City. Held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, the show is open to the public from Friday, April 22 through Sunday, May 1. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Gene Simmons (right), Eric Singer (center) and Tommy Thayer of the band Kiss appear on stage at the Mini news conference at the 2011 New York auto show. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Saab PhoeniX concept car is displayed during the 2011 New York auto show. The vehicle showcases design features and technologies which will shape the next generation of cars from Saab, the automaker says. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Scion Vice President Jack Hollis walks around the Scion FRS-S concept car at the 2011 New York auto show. Toyota is taking its youth-oriented Scion division — known for the boxy xB — in a new direction with the sexy, rear-wheel-drive sports car. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is polished as it sits on display at the 2011 New York auto show. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The new Volkswagen Bulli on display at the 2011 New York auto show. VW has resurrected its iconic microbus, which debuted in 1950 and became a favorite of hippies for its unique styling and copious space for travelers. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The Toyota Prius c concept car is shown during the press preview to the 2011 New York auto show. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Members of the press gather around the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman during the 2011 New York auto show. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. The Lexus LF-Gh hybrid concept car is unveiled at a press event on the eve of the 2011 New York auto show. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The 2012 Ford Focus, which boasts 40 mpg, is shown on the floor of the 2011 New York auto show. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. The front light of a Boxster S Porsche is shown at the 2011 New York auto show. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The 2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe makes its official debut at the 2011 New York auto show. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel introduces the 2012 Honda Civic lineup at the 2011 New York show. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. The Mercedes-Benz A Class concept car is seen on display at the 2011 New York auto show. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC is shown at the 2011 New York auto show. The car uses a production Nisan LEAF electric powertrain wrapped in a unique two-door carbon fiber body with removable front and rear sections and a large adjustable rear wing. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Members of the automotive press inspect the new 2012 Honda Civic Si at a press event during the 2011 New York auto show. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi on display during the 2011 New York auto show. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A worker cleans the mirrors covering a Smart Electric Drive -- a battery-electric version of the Smart Fortwo micro car -- during the 2011 New York auto show. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Model next to Chrysler 300 S on display at New York International Auto Show
    Mike Segar / Reuters
    Above: Slideshow (18) Cars that rocked the Big Apple - New York auto show
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    Slideshow (23) Cars that rocked the Big Apple - Shanghai auto show

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