Bring back the flying dragon

Trini owns a ’12 Subaru Impreza, which is to say “not a WRX.” Not that she’d have a problem with Rex, or his big brother STi, but to a certain extent she subscribes to my belief that when attempting to get from Point A to Point B as rapidly as possible, inconspicuousness is a useful commodity. (Zero to sixty is one thing; 85 to Tulsa is quite another.) The tricky part of the buy, apparently, was finding a Prez with a stick shift in a sea of CVTs: Trini is dedicated to that third pedal.

Last time we were talking cars, she allowed that Subaru’s new BRZ, a rear-drive sports coupe, engineered by Sube but considered the successor to Toyota’s legendary FT-86, was on her radar, though not on her roommate’s. (Roomie drives a WRX and would just as soon wait for Sube to bolt a turbo onto the little flat four.) I had kind words for it too, though I suspected it was short on the cargo space needed for a full-on World Tour. But what may have been most notable about the conversation is that neither one of us gave more than the shortest possible shrift to the version sold by Toyota, the almost-identical Scion FR-S.

I have no personal experience with Scion; Trini’s roomie owned one of the original xB refrigerator cartons, though the need for speed eventually outweighed the desire to haul plywood, hence the presence of Rex. It’s not a brand I think about, perhaps because it was so obviously pulled out of Toyota’s fundament in a desperate attempt to lure buyers who hadn’t yet been sent AARP promotional material. So I’m inclined to agree with Car and Driver‘s Aaron Robinson on this point:

Toyota Celica dragon badgeIt should have been called the Toyota Celica. That name carries a legacy. That name means something. That name is ripe for overhaul and recommissioning, and the FT-86 would have done it blazingly for the kind of buyer attracted to the car, which more often than not is the kind of buyer who puts stock in badge identity. Instead, Toyota was so blinded by quarterly sales reports that it didn’t see opportunity in its own history.

And hey, if they get around to bolting on that turbo, they could even exhume the Supra name. (On second thought, maybe not. We know Subaru can build a flat six; let’s see if they can get one to fit.)


  1. JT »

    4 July 2012 · 5:41 pm

    Had not thought about the Celica name being brought back. Apart from the GT-Four rallye car and the GT-S with the 200hp 1.8 liter, Toyota turned the Celica nameplate over the last couple of generations into something insipid. The GT-86 (everywhere else but the US) obviously harkens back to the old RWD Corolla GT-S (had two of them, eventually traded in on a Miata). It doesn’t really fit with the Corolla nameplate anymore however, so the Celica nameplate would be worthy of resurrection.

  2. CGHill »

    4 July 2012 · 7:52 pm

    I managed to keep a first-generation Celica going into the middle 1990s, and I retain some fondness for the concept, even if the little tin box was short on ponies (96, if I remember correctly).

  3. robohara »

    6 July 2012 · 7:14 am

    That new Scion looks pretty good in the commercial. Then again, that’s what commercials are for I s’pose.

    I was also an xB owner for a short period of time. Its quirky styling spoke to the Gen X in me, but the performance left something to be desired. Actually my biggest problem wasn’t with that, but with the suspension; with two adults in the back seat, it constantly bottomed out. That and, one more than one occasion, my thigh accidentally hit the automatic shifter and knocked the car into neutral. If you thought the car revved high on the interstate in drive, you should have heard it in neutral.

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