Currently reading: Geneva motor show 2010: Toyota FT-86
'Toyobaru' rear-drive coupe will use a Subaru chassis and engine; concept to be seen at Tokyo

This is the rear-wheel-drive sports coupe that Toyota and Subaru have been co-developing behind closed doors in Japan.

In this unusual joint venture, Toyota and Subaru will each produce their own versions of the car, with sales kicking off in late 2011. Subaru will build all the cars at its Gunma factory in Japan and Subaru’s naturally aspirated 2.0-litre flat four will provide the power for both cars.

See the full hi-res Toyota FT-86 RWD sports car concept picture gallery

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This concept car, badged FT-86, is the Toyota version and is very similar to the proposed production car. The company will be relying on it to restore driver appeal to the Toyota line-up, something that’s been missing since the demise of the Celica and MR2.

It’s also a car Toyota sees as rekindling the spirit of its one of its old 1980s stars: the similarly codenamed AE-86 Corolla GT, whose easily driftable rear-wheel-drive chassis and eager 1.6-litre twin-cam engine has made it an enduring hero in Japan.

This is a project Toyota has wanted to do for some time now, in order to improve its image and increase its credibility with young Japanese drivers, who have become increasingly less interested in cars in recent years. But for a number of reasons, including the lack of a suitably sporty engine, Toyota’s money men kept it in limbo.

Toyota also wants to keep the car affordable.A target price of ¥2 million (£14,000 at current rates) is the ideal, but with two years still to go until production that could yet change. A price of about £18k is more likely in the UK.

The car’s styling is credited to Toyota’s ED2 studio in the south of France. The profile shows the clear influence of the FT-HS, Toyota’s 2007 hybrid show concept, with elements of the Nissan 370Z visible in the roofline.

Toyota is keen to push the car’s driver appeal and what it terms ‘emotional performance’, describing the car as small, light and easy to control. At 4160mm long and 1760mm wide, it’s slightly shorter and narrower than an Audi TT, and at 1260mm high it’s also lower.

Under the bonnet is the current Subaru 2.0-litre flat four, as used in the Impreza, but by the time the coupé goes into production it may use the next-generation boxer unit. The current engine produces 146bhp and 141lb ft of torque, but the new engine could go up to 160bhp, with lower CO2 emissions. A turbo would increase performance but would also increase the price.

The Subaru engine has several advantages. It’s compact, light, smooth and nicely balanced. But more critical for Toyota is the structure of the unit, which allows engineers to keep the car’s centre of gravity low. The gearbox will be a conventional six-speed manual.

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Toyota says the coupé is based on “an all-new platform”, although there has been speculation that this will be a shortened Impreza chassis converted to rear-wheel drive.

The FT-86 has struts at the front with rear double wishbones, as does the Impreza.Keeping the weight down will be crucial. Toyota was able to build this car’s antecedent, the Corolla GT coupé, to weigh 960kg, but this time it will be nearer 1200kg. The FT-86 officially seats four, but in reality it’s going to be a 2+2. The show car’s interior, decked out in grey, has some unusual touches, such as a big, oval instrument panel, with minor controls and unusually slim air vents mounted on the console and dashboard.

Toyota won’t confirm that the final production car will look exactly like the FT-86, and things may change in the next couple of years. But the car is already at the running prototype stage, and if development goes according to plan it could be unveiled at the 2011 Tokyo motor show, with an on-sale date in 2012.

Peter Nunn

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Peter Cavellini 21 October 2009

Re: Toyota's new RWD coupe launched

No, seen the vid on youtube and i still think it's a crooss between an RX-7 and a Nissan 370Z, in fact i don't see a bit of Toyota DNA on it anywhere,it's a poor effort,and if they do make it i hope they don't sully the name Celica by calling it that!

Peter Cavellini 9 October 2009

Re: Toyota's new RWD coupe launched


Maybe it's just me, but doesn't it look a bit like a badly body-kitted 370Z?,it's just to simular to the Nissan370Z,i hope they change some of the exterior and put at least a 2.5 litre turbo in it, these cars are supposed to be above hot hatches but nowadays a hot hatch will eat this for breakfast1,it's not enough, please Toyota give this car some man vegitables!

Guardian Devil 7 October 2009

Re: Toyota's new RWD coupe launched

it looks amazing inside and out and probably drives amazing and if it'll cost under 15k it will be a huge success! but if I'm going to part with 20k I really think that it could lose 200 kilos! the whole point of the old AE86 was that it was very light and rearwheel drive. so getting it just half right is just not what I was expecting...

part excited part disappointed