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Sub-GR 86 sports car back on! 2026 Toyota S-FR could use downsized GR Corolla engine and be twinned with new-gen Daihatsu Copen and Suzuki Cappuccino - report

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Is this Toyota's new sports car? (Image: BestCar)
Is this Toyota's new sports car? (Image: BestCar)

A third, entry-level Toyota GR sports car project, previously thought to have been abandoned, may be back on track for a 2026 release. 

Reviving the spirit of the Toyota 800, the S-FR concept first seen at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show could enter production by 2026 as a Mazda MX-5 rival with siblings from Daihatsu and Suzuki, according to a report from Japanese publication BestCar.

The news follows Toyota’s promised revival of the Starlet super mini in Japan, with its flagship Rally4 homologation version rumoured to use a downsized 1.3-litre version of the GR Corolla’s ‘G16E-GTS’ turbo-petrol three-cylinder.

It’s thought that the production ‘S-FR’ will use this engine to spread development costs over a wider model range. Outputs are expected to be around 110kW and 220Nm from the engine, which will be mounted at the front with a driveshaft powering the rear wheels.

Previous reports from BestCar have also discussed the possibility of an even smaller 1.0-litre engine. There could be more than just one variant offered if that is the case, with a GR flagship. 

Additionally, there’s a possibility the sports car will use a version of the Yaris’ TNGA architecture.

The 2023 Daihatsu Copen Active concept.
The 2023 Daihatsu Copen Active concept.

Anyone who was paying attention at the 2015 show (or has played Gran Turismo 6) might well be familiar with the existing S-FR concept.

In 2015, it measured 3990mm long, 1695mm wide, 1320mm tall and rode on a 2480mm wheelbase. Expect similar dimensions in production guise and, unlike the Honda S660, the S-FR will not be a 'kei' car.

After Toyota released the original 86 in 2013/14, it followed with the 2014 FT-1 concept that would go on to become Supra in 2019. The 2015 S-FR was going to build sports car momentum for the brand but the project was abandoned.

This is the 1965 Toyota Sports 800.
This is the 1965 Toyota Sports 800.

The sporty Starlet was just the break the S-FR, it seems, needed. Reports suggest the S-FR will, like Toyota’s other sports cars, be a team venture with other manufacturers.

Suzuki and Toyota’s own small car subsidiary Daihatsu are the team members. Daihatsu showed its new Copen concept at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show which shares a 1.3-litre engine and front-rear layout with the mooted Toyota S-FR.

As for Suzuki, we’ve seen no concepts in the flesh yet. However, with its niche favourite Cappuccino nameplate currently without a home, it makes sense for the brand.

A look back at the 2015 S-FR concept.
A look back at the 2015 S-FR concept.

Toyota’s eventual small sports car is expected to weigh around 1100kg and cost about 3.5 million yen (A$33,500). Expect a manual transmission, naturally. 

Japan is the obvious market, whether it will arrive in Australia is less sure. There’s some hope, though. Being a right-hand-drive market that takes both GR Corolla and GR Yaris, Australia is in a better place than other countries for the S-FR to succeed. 

Toyota is readying more sports cars, too, with an electric ‘FT-Se’ concept potentially signalling the long-awaited MR2 revival.

A punchy turbo triple and rear drive? Yes. (Image: BestCar)
A punchy turbo triple and rear drive? Yes. (Image: BestCar)

John Law
Deputy News Editor
Born in Sydney’s Inner West, John wasn’t treated to the usual suite of Aussie-built family cars growing up, with his parents choosing quirky (often chevroned) French motors that shaped his love of cars. The call of motoring journalism was too strong to deny and in 2019 John kickstarted his career at Chasing Cars. A move to WhichCar and Wheels magazine exposed him to a different side of the industry and the glossy pages of physical magazines. John is back on the digital side of things at CarsGuide, where he’s taken up a role as Deputy News Editor spinning yarns about the latest happenings in the automotive industry. When he isn’t working, John can be found tooling around in either his 2002 Renault Clio Sport 172 or 1983 Alfasud Gold Cloverleaf.  
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