Toyota FT-86/Scion FR-S And Subaru BRZ: Front Boxer Four And RWD – A First?

Every day, delectable new tidbits about the Toyota Ft-86/Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ bubble to the surface. The biggest question in my mind from the beginning was was whether the Subaru boxer four was going to be mounted ahead of the front wheel center line, to make its signature AWD possible. I had a hard time imagining how the goal of world-class weight distribution and handling could be accomplished with that. But now that ft86forum has posted the above picture, as well as others and more details, it’s quite clear: the engine is nestled snugly between the wheels, and will be rear wheel drive only. This may may already be old news, but its pretty exciting none the less. The specs promise handling that may be unparalleled for its class, with lower CG than a Boxster, a 53/47 weight distribution, a Cd of 0.27, 200 hp, a combination of both direct and port fuel injection, and low overall weight. Toyota is determined to shed its dull image, once again.

There’s something intrinsically elegant about this power train configuration, and it’s one that has been used only once before, quite a long time ago.

Tatra, of course (full history here). Before its line of famous rear-engine streamliners, Tatra pioneered flat twin and four cylinder engines driving through a central tube to the rear wheels.The first of the series was the legendary T11 (above), with a two cylinder boxer.

A long line of successors followed, and eventually, a four cylinder boxer appeared in the T30. Later version included this sporty T57A.

There it is, the little Tatra boxer four snuggled in between the front wheels. Suspension is a bit different though, not to mention power output. The 1150 cc four made some 18 hp. But the RWD Tatras were known for their fine handling, unlike the successor rear-engined ones. That’s a good omen.