More details about the new sportscar that is being jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru have emerged.
Subaru is planning to aim its version of the car at the sub-£20k performance market traditionally dominated by hot hatches and cheap roadsters like the Mazda MX-5 when it goes on sale in 2011.
As previously reported, the car will be a compact, rear-driven two-seater, with power coming from a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine with close to 200bhp.
Sources inside Subaru indicate that it will cost significantly less than £20,000, putting it into direct competition with the Mazda MX-5 and the new Renault Alpine, which is also expected in 2011.
Toyota owns around 16 per cent of Subaru’s parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, hence the joint venture. Both cars will be built at a new factory in Gunma, Japan, with Subaru developing the basic platform, chassis and engine of the car, while Toyota concentrates on the design and engineering of the car’s cabin.
A Subaru spokesperson was quick to point out that the car was not intended as a replacement for the Impreza, which will continue in its current form well into the next decade. “This will be a smaller, lighter car with more niche appeal,” he said.
He also ruled out turbocharged ‘WRX’ and ‘STi’ badged versions of the car: “Subaru already has a big challenge ahead to conform to the EU’s 120g/km carbon target by 2012.
“We need new cars that make that challenge more achievable, not more difficult.”
Toyota’s European arm has not confirmed whether its version of the car will be made available anywhere in the EU.
Insiders suggest that, given the predilection of the UK market to affordable performance cars and the model’s native right-hand drive layout, if it comes to Europe, we will take it in Britain, possibly with the Supra brand.