Already a good year into its hype-cycle, Toyota’s much-discussed FT-86 sports coupe is apparently losing some of the focus that made it an instant (theoretical) hit with enthusiasts. According to Autocar, Toyota has given up on its price point goal of $20,000 for a base model in the Japanese market, bumping MSRP targets to $23k for a base model and $26k for loaded examples. No word on how this will affect US-market prices, which Toyota has never disclosed goals for. And if this were the only news coming out of FT-86-land, we might have ignored it altogether. Sadly though, the price shift reflects larger trends within the FT-86’s development, none of which are wildly promising from the perspective of the enthusiasts that this car was allegedly being built for.
According to Autocar:
[The FT-86’s] R&D team is now more focused on minimizing fuel consumption and producing the cleanest engine possible; the Subaru boxer engine planned for the car is not considered to be that clean or fuel-efficient… The car is also likely to be marketed to older buyers than originally planned, too. The head of Toyota’s newly created sports vehicle department, Tetsuya Tada, told Autocar that his team had increased the target age group by 10 years, from the 30s to 40s, after market research revealed that fewer younger buyers would opt for the sleek coupé than first thought.
So much for Toyota’s pledge to get serious about selling cars with enthusiast-oriented “splendid flavor.” Though it’s too early to say definitively that the FT-86 has traipsed down the primrose path of play-it-safe planning, this is not a good sign for those hoping the FT-86 would be the first iconic budget-enthusiast car to hit the American market in ages.