When the Toyota board sat down in 2007 to begin discussing the Toyota GT 86 project, the marketing people got first dibs. Unless the car was going to make money – a lot of money – it wouldn’t matter how good it might turn out to be for Toyota’s new image, it wouldn’t get built unless it was going to be highly profitable. And at that point, all ideas of making a new Supra or some such went clean out of the window.
Hence the GT 86’s unusually simple, straightforward outlook on life – which, it turns out, feels like the perfect sports car for our times five years later. Not that Toyota knew this in 2007.
The tyres of the GT 86 are the exact same specification as those you’ll find on a humble Prius – low rolling resistance and therefore not especially grippy 215/45 17s front and rear. Even so, it still takes a mighty bung to unseat the thing at the rear end, and you can’t maintain a slide for long due to the relative lack of torque from the boxer engine. Conclusion; fit a set of well used Colway remoulds at the back if you want to enjoy your GT 86 to the full.
Chief engineer for the project, Tetsuya Tada, says his next ambition is to make a car that’s “smaller, cheaper but similar to the 86 in character – the same car but for students.’ Now that really would please his friends in marketing…
Although there won’t be a more powerful version of the GT 86 from Toyota any time soon, the company fully expects customers to develop their own cars. “If they (our customers) wish to add power, they can” says Tada. “And there are plenty of tuners who will help them to do so, and that’s good.”
So how about a convertible GT 86? Surely Tada’s colleagues in marketing would never speak to him again if he didn’t build them an open top version to sell to the Americans, which remain Toyota’s keenest customers?
“For me, no. I don’t want a convertible GT 86” says Tada. “I prefer the purity of a coupe.
“But I think it might be difficult not to make a convertible for America” he admits, smiling – as if to say; “we both know it’s going to happen so let’s move on.”
Top chap is Tetsuya Tada, and an extremely fine yet refreshingly simple car has he and his team produced. Audi & Co please take note.