The 'Toyobaru' coupe has been spied testing at the Nurburgring.
The test mule, which is being co-developed by Toyota and Subaru, appears to have a development front and rear end for the production car, grafted on to a Subaru Impreza saloon body. This suggests that the development work is being carried out by Subaru.
The rear of the test hack is also notable for a rear wing that appears to be far from production ready and is moulded on to the car over the rear wheelarches.
Power comes from Subaru's Boxer engine. The Toyota FT-86 Concept, which will be unveiled at next week's Tokyo motor show and which will form the basis for the car, has a 158bhp 2.0-litre boxer motor, although speculation suggests the final production car could have up to 200bhp.
Subaru's involvement in the project has already raised concerns in Japan, even though it hasn't formally announced its plans yet.
The company has built its brand around boxer engine technology and its Symmetrical four-wheel drive. It has never built a small rear-drive coupé before, and the idea of sharing part of its core technology with Toyota is also controversial within the company.
Some see definite benefits, however, arguiing that the ‘Toyobaru’ could take Subaru out of its normal orbit, represent something new, funky and fresh in the market and in theory bring in a raft of new, young, enthusiast buyers.
By sharing its engine technology with Toyota, Subaru should also be able to achieve some reductions in its high engine costs, although as this is going to be a niche product, these savings may be nominal.
Some have speculated that Subaru will eventually make a four-wheel-drive version of the car, in order to differentiate it from the Toyota. But that will add weight and complexity, and doesn’t sit happily with its billing as a simple, lightweight sports car.
Both cars - Toyota and Subaru - will be made at Subaru’s factory in Japan.
Pictures: Carparazzi and CarPix