Without wishing to sound like the third most miserable person on this site, the way in which Toyota has gone about launching its new Toyota FT-86 coupe has, on occasion, beggared belief.
And unfortunately, no matter how good the end product is if and when it finally hits the showrooms, you can’t help thinking that it will have been unleashed into the world with at least half a hand tied behind its back.
To recap, first there were the usual spy photos and news stories about the ‘return of a new rear drive Celica.’ Which, was excellent news, of course, but was also about four years ago now if I recall.
Then came news that it would be a joint project between Subaru and Toyota, which was similarly intriguing, especially since at the time the world economy was falling apart at the seams. A short while later, though, came a rather public row between the two companies, who appeared to be locked into a furious debate about what the two cars should look like, who’s should be faster and which should feature the lowest bonnet line etc. That was about two and half years ago.
Early last year I was then summoned to a disused old railway shed in Brussels and shown what was ‘a mostly complete’ FT-86 – which I happened to think looked rather wonderful. There were still some elements of the styling that needed signing off by the big boss, Akio Toyoda, but the interior, I was told, was pretty much there; and as for the way it drives, it was already an absolute peach…
The next news that broke, however, was that Toyota was going back to the drawing board on the styling because Toyoda-san wasn’t happy with it for some reason. At the same time the engineers were going to have to rethink the chassis a fair bit, too, because the bonnet line – such a defining feature of the prototype’s styling – was also too low for production use.
And then the concept II was unveiled earlier this year, shortly after Subaru had stolen Toyota’s thunder, again, by announcing that its version of the car (to be called BRZ) would be faster and more powerful than Toyota’s.
And now, finally, someone has ‘leaked’ the brochure for a slightly modified production version of the FT-86, courtesy of Toyota's in-house tuning arm Modellista. Which means the first time anyone in the outside world will get to see what the last and final version actually looks like is via a set of curiously low grade photos that aren’t even proper photos; instead they are photos of photos.
And to think that at one time, quite a few years ago now admittedly, I was all a quibble about this new rear-drive, lightweight, 200bhp sports car. At one time, in fact, I even wondered about buying one. But that moment has passed now, and I’m not exactly struggling to work out why…