It was with more than a tinge of sadness that I recently realised an unerring truth; in fact, I may have even shed a tear or two. I was always told it would happen, especially when the kids came along but I never really took any notice, perhaps this was my undoing. You see, no matter how hard I searched every nook and cranny of the old grey matter, somewhere along the line over the last few years, I’d completely lost sight of what a young boy racer aspires to own. By this, I don’t mean anything exotic from the likes of Lamborghini or Porsche, I mean a realistically obtainable automobile, a working class hero, if you will.
Having looked at what’s on offer though, I’m beginning to wonder whether it is me that’s lost touch or whether today’s Friday night heroes are lost in an automotive wilderness with a distinct lack of identity. Every generation can be easily ring fenced by the objects of their desire. The ‘80s had the Golf Gti, Pug 205 Gti and the Escort XR3i. My generation, the ‘90s also had the Golfs but we’d progressed onto the rally derived rockets, typically the Imprezas and Evos, earning us the ‘Playstation generation’ tag. The ‘00s gets a little hazy but the hot hatches were still in full flow and the Japanese entries simply got more and more powerful but this is where the trail gets lost.
Correct me if I’m wrong but hot hatches appear to have lost their way a little of late. They’re mostly overpriced, the old stalwart, the Golf is bland, all Peugeots are hideous and Vauxhall’s Astra is suffering delusions of grandeur. The only manufacturer which has maintained the cheap thrills ethos is Renault but seriously, what self respecting young scally aspires to own something called a Twingo?
Similarly others have lost their way. Subaru’s last hot Impreza was so expensive that for a few quid more, you could have bought a proper performance car. They’ve just displayed the all new Impreza at the New York motor show and it is the automotive equivalent of gruel. Mind you, if you think that’s bad, Mitsubishi recently announced that their next generation Evos would be doing their utmost to save the planet. Come on! That’s like marketing a child friendly nail bomb.
All of this brings me neatly onto what I think could just be the next symbol of a generation. Contrasting against its surroundings like a blood red stain on a brilliant white background, their was at the New York motor show a small, cheap, attention grabbing sports car called the Scion FR-S. Scion are Toyota’s youth brand, as Lexus is their OAP brand and the FR-S is their attempt to put the thrills back into affordable driving. Developed in conjunction with Subaru who supply the engines, the FR-S has a very low centre of gravity and perhaps most importantly, it’s the rear wheels that are driven. Toyota believe that this is what will tempt buyers away from cars such as VW’s Scirocco as it will have a fun factor that’s not present in most competitors. Whatever your opinion on the looks, it’s certainly not mundane, especially against the backdrop of plain cars many manufacturers are happy to force upon us today.
If this car works, I foresee a resurgence of the Japanese sports car industry, possibly with the reintroduction of greats such as the MR2 and the Supra. The land of the rising sun appears to have had a new dawn, European manufacturers, you have been warned.
By Ben Harrington
- 2013 Subaru BRZ Prototype (motortrend.com)
- Subaru BRZ , Scion FR-S Supplies Running Low (highriskcarloan.com)
- Video: Consumer Reports cuts loose, compares Scion FR-S against Subaru BRZ (autoblog.com)
- Subaru bringing convertible BRZ to U.S. in 2014 – Automotive News – Ruge’s Subaru (rugessubaru.wordpress.com)