A newly revealed concept car built atop the Toyota 86 platform has us lamenting the fact that it was never built. Called the Toyota X86D concept, it was designed at Toyota’s Calty studio in Southern California in 2012 but was kept under wraps for over a decade.
Back in 2012, there was much buzz surrounding what was then called the Scion FR-S. The nimble and affordable rear-wheel-drive coupe was a breath of fresh air in a market that hadn’t seen a lot of activity in the sports car category. Toyota thought about ways it could expand that platform to other body styles, including what it describes as a “four-door shooting brake.” That actually sounds a lot like a plain ol’ wagon, but we get it; the (vastly erroneous) conventional wisdom says that wagons aren’t cool.
However, a compact wagon the size of an FR-S sounds immensely cool. Toyota’s description of the X86D even says an all-wheel-drive drivetrain was part of the plan. AWD or not, it would have benefited from the well-balanced front-engined, rear-drive-biased layout of the 86, as well as its low-profile flat-four engine.
The concept made it to the full-size model stage, which is not insignificant. That means it passed the 2D paper or digital illustration and 1:4 scale model phases. The look deviates quite significantly from the FR-S, with a dramatically curved rear window on the hatch.
The X86D was designed at Calty, which Toyota founded in 1973. Nowadays nearly every major automaker has a studio in Southern California, but Toyota’s was the first, founded to study drivers’ habits in the American (or, arguably, global) heart of car culture. Production cars that have emerged from Calty include the 1979 Celica, the stunning Lexus SC, and the 2024 Tacoma.
The Scion FR-S was subsequently renamed the 86 when the Scion brand was killed off, and then renamed the GR86 for the current generation. While the many curves of the X86D would have likely been toned down for production, it’s still an amazing idea. Even if designers kept most of the FR-S’s lines and just grafted the hatch onto it, we would have been eagerly lining up for a compact sportwagon. Alas, we were never given that chance.