Rate It: The Toyota RSC Was Like a RAV4 on Steroids

By Colin Wood
Oct 27, 2020 | Toyota, Rate It, RSC

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges any car company faces is trying to figure out what younger, first-time buyers would be willing to spend their money on. One way that companies have been testing the water is via an often sporty, oddly designed concept.

Such was the case for Toyota’s Rugged Sport Coupe (RSC) concept from 2001. Based on the RAV4, the RSC was designed as a “pure concept vehicle,” meaning that there were no plans to ever produce a production version.

Despite that, the concept’s exterior took inspiration from Toyota’s “long history in the World Rally Championships.” On the inside, the RSC was sparsely equipped with only the most basic creature comforts, though did feature a GPS monitor and “carbon-fiber backed” racing seats with harnesses.

No concrete information was ever provided on any sort of powerplant (since it was never meant to be mass-produced), though it was equipped with a high-mounted sequential shifter.

Was the RSC an early omen of the crossover apocalypse, or should today's crowded CUV market have more rugged, rally-inspired designs?

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View comments on the GRM forums
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
10/27/20 1:36 p.m.

It looks like what you'd get if you crossed Maximum Destruction with a 4th generation Eclipse, although the 4th generation Eclipse's looks are a bit more tolerable as an SUV. Or maybe a relative of the Rally Fighter.

I'd say actual ratings would depend on what powertrain it ended up using - the final version of the 3S-GTE out of Caldina would have been pretty good, a 1ZZ-FE (or worse yet, 1NZ-FE) would be another case of how Toyota seemed determined to miss the mark on everything performance related from that era. If you're going to build a "rally inspired" car, be sure that the actual rally capability is there. This could easily have been the same mistake as the "rally inspired" Jeep Compass, which was built on the Mitsubishi Lancer platform but somehow it never occurred to anyone to actually put the Lancer EVO (or Caliber SRT4) goodies on it!

But it's still stuck with the fundamental problem that not many young buyers can afford a new car.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
10/27/20 2:12 p.m.

But it's still stuck with the fundamental problem that not many young buyers can afford a new car.


Sincerely, a young person that can't afford a new car

AaronT Reader
10/27/20 3:04 p.m.

Looks like fun as a Ford Raptor type vehicle. But that type vehicle is waaaay too expensive for the target demo. As a tarted up softroader? Looks like a lot of compromises in interior space to look cool. So, in a way it's a prototype Subaru Crosstrek.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
10/27/20 4:25 p.m.

I love it. Way ahead of its time. Throw the v6 in there, and wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

maschinenbau (I live here)
maschinenbau (I live here) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/28/20 7:51 a.m.

Looks like a lifted Hyundai Veloster. Both the front fascia and the rear hatch. 

Vajingo Reader
10/28/20 1:11 p.m.

You could drive this in GT4. Really fun rally raider and had the 3sgte and awd system from prior rally vehicles. 

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
10/28/20 1:30 p.m.

In reply to maschinenbau (I live here) :

bigdaddylee82 UberDork
10/28/20 1:45 p.m.

Times like these I miss Dr. Hess.

He'd be comparing it to his 3SGTE swapped Rav4.

Schmidlap HalfDork
10/29/20 8:26 a.m.

I always assumed that the BMW designer who came up with the X6 had a thing for AMC Eagles, but maybe he saw this at an auto show and tried to adapt the roofline to the X5.  Either way, I really like the RSC and the X6 (I think I'm in the minority on this).

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