By on April 21, 2010

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.

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54 Comments on “Toyota Backs Off FT-86 Price Point, Youth Appeal Goals...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    Toyota misfired on the Scion market demographic also. The Gen 1 xB ended up appealing to a group 10-15 years older than planned. I got mine at the age of 41.

    But I don’t see how the target demographic matters. My guess is that the car’s substance and price will determine how many they sell.

    By the way, isn’t the Hyundai Genesis Coupe supposed to be an “iconic budget-enthusiast car”?

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      I dunno about that. I’m still waiting to see my first Genesis coupe anywhere other than the local Hyundai dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      UnclePete

      @Jimal: That’s really funny you mention it – I saw my first one tonight. I was behind one at a light; it was a black 3.8 model being driven by a late 30s woman.

    • 0 avatar
      Accazdatch

      gslippy:

      Its actually funny you say that.
      I was going to make that exact same point.

      The car was heralded as being the next COMING of the FT-86 — recognized as the rear engine corolla. Before it became the front driving SLOB for those who don’t want to drive.

      I’m such an optimist about new cars.. and their target audience.

      Now we got b.s driving a very competent car, heralded to do so much more.

      Ahhh..
      Rings in my ears like.. SCION does = FAILURE.

  • avatar
    grifonik

    I seem to remember the older (and maybe even current) subaru boxer engines on the WRX drank fuel far in excess of their similar displacment bretheren. If toyota can manage to get that same displacement, HP/Torque, and better fuel economy, that’s all win-win.

  • avatar

    The lack of focus is astounding. Why sell a RWD car to a population that doesn’t care?

    They should have replaced the Scion tC and Celica both with this model – as a Scion.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    Great. By the time it’s finished we’ll have Toyota’s answer to the CR-Z.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    We’re taking Autocar as a source? I’m guessing that like most of their stuff, including Peter Lyon’s, its ripped from BestCar Magazine (which Peter occasionally works for).

    However, $23-26k isn’t that far off the VW GTI or Genesis, so that price increase isn’t as important as the fuel-consumption part. Hopefully, they plan on having both NA and Turbo variants, clearly having a poor emissions standards won’t help the long-term viability of this car (look at the RX8 in Europe), however hopefully they are smart enough to figure out that enthusiasts these days are only comparing paper-numbers and are more interested in internet-wars.

    So things like 0-60 times, HP, and power-weight ratio are going to be importnat if Toyota really wants this to be an image booster.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The original source is talking about the price going from 13000 pounds to 15000 pounds. A yaris is from 10k to 14k in GBP. The numbers don’t make sense in USD. I think where the pound and dollar are floating right now, we have a situation where someone did a direct conversion and found the low number matched $20k coincidentally.

      I think there is little to no truth in this report.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    What changes in an enthusiast going from age 30 to 40? Answer: Disposable income, and Toyota just wants their rightful share of it. Plus it’s smart marketing (and warranty issue avoidance) to keep the car out of the hands of punks and ricers. After all, wasn’t this the reason for canceling Celica and MR2?

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      How many 40 year olds are looking for a compact RWD 4 cylinder sports car that’s not a Miata?

    • 0 avatar

      Everyone who wants a car WITH A ROOF is looking at something other than Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      tbp0701

      I’m over 40 and am looking for a sporty car that’s not a Miata. Of course, being 6’2″ and living in a place with a long winter is a factor. Anyway, I’m looking for car with a manual transmission that doesn’t feel like driver input is being fed by a really fancy game controller. I guess the Toyota’s out. At this point, I’m thinking of finding a fairly unmolested Integra, bugeye WRX or 300ZX and keeping it alive as long as possible.

  • avatar
    Some Guy

    It seems that Toyota is turning into the new old Buick. Their products and ads are appealing more and more to the geriatric crowd:

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    at that price it’ll out of reach over the ‘average’ enthusiast outside of the US

  • avatar
    dwford

    This is the problem when you let marketing types dictate car design. This is how you end up with a Honda Element with a sunroof over the trunk (so the surfboard can stick out the roof – as if).

    If the design is right, someone will buy it. Who cares who? Would Scion have been even 1/2 as successful if all the retirees hadn’t bought them?

    We go through this every 20 years. Car companies keep forgetting that 20 year olds don’t have money and 40 year olds want something practical. There are only so many people that defy the norm.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Going for clean and efficient is not a death knell for fun. Many cars, even those that are supposed to be for “enthusiasts” are bought for looks only. Those buyers would go for the economy engine. Forward thinking folks might want an efficient yet powerful engine. Think Ecoboost. Traditional motorheads might want the normally aspirated engine with more cubes. I don’t know what Toyota had in mind, but this philosophy would work not just for this car, but for most cars. I know more than a few people who would gladly have a slower but more efficient Camry. For them, an even smaller engine than the present I4 would fill the bill. Yeah the car press would say slow, but CR and their ilk would love it.

    • 0 avatar
      stubydoo

      Yeah, it’s kinda shocking how little market space is occupied by truly efficient “slow” cars. If I ever truly put to use all one hundred and fifteen of the horses in my Sentra, the cops would be on me like smooth on a baby’s bottom.

    • 0 avatar
      Areitu

      “Many cars, even those that are supposed to be for “enthusiasts” are bought for looks only.”

      I think you just figured out the secret to the Mitsubishi Eclipse.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      HAHA – drove a big Cummins powered diesel pickup guy to the hardware store today in my VW. Used most of the 115 HP on tap and got a thumbs up from him. He thought it had alot more ponies than that. I think I may have recalibrated how many ponies are required to have fun. My car isn’t “fast” it is “fun” to drive.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    This car is beautiful, particularly the profile view shown above. I’ll have to convince my wife that the GTI is just too unreliable and something or other to keep when the FT comes out.

  • avatar
    WhatTheHel

    I’m not concerned about speculation on Toyota’s FT86 pricing.
    I am concerned however with the rumours of the Subaru version NOT having AWD. That would be a G.D. shame.

  • avatar
    ajla

    My personal hope was that the FT-86 would get the 2ZZ-GE engine in base form. Or, some other engine with an 8000RPM redline.

    Another idea would be to use the 4GR-FSE 2.5L V6 out of the IS250. That motor weighs about 50 pounds more than the current Subaru boxer, but gives more power.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I agree. I know about the WRX-STi and Porsche 911, but I detest the sound of a boxer engine.

      Surely Toyota could have put a great 4-cylinder in there.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d love me some 4GR-FSE in FT-86, but isn’t the hood is kinda low for it?

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      There is an NA Subaru 2.0L that makes 190hp in a Japan model of the Legacy. The 2.0L STIs in Japan spin to 8000RPM. Having a boxer spin high to make the power isn’t out of the question, especially if they keep the displacement ~2.0L instead of the 2.5L boxers we get in the US that just won’t spin that high.

      And really, as far as I know, Toyota no longer has a performance 4cyl similar to the 2ZZ. All the ZR engines seem to be designed for efficiency.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The 2ZZ-GE has problems meeting emissions targets, which is why you likely won’t see it here. Pity, that was a nifty engine. The IS250′s V6 would be cool: people underrate that engine largely because they haven’t driven the equally dog-a-riffic BMW 323i or Mercedes C250, but it is smooth and revs nicely.

      Packaging either would be a problem, though: Subaru’s flat-four is second only to Mazda’s rotaries in that respect. An inline four is going to see that beautiful hood-line raised to “normal car” height.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      When it is all said and done, I would be surprised if the car doesn’t use a boxer.

      The internet (and makers of the Gran Turismo video game) are thinking it will get a naturally aspirated 2.0L with around 200hp, hopefully with enough high-end to make it interesting.

      I am worried though that the North American market might get shafted with a 2.5L Impreza engine to “better suit market tastes”. I don’t want to be stuck reading on Inside Line about the superior and more fun European and Japanese versions.

    • 0 avatar

      Seriously, “shafted” with the 2.5L EJ25? Mine spins to 7000rpm gets the same MPG, and has more low end torque then the 2L that spins to 8k. These are turbo motors, not Honda motorcycle engines. Power on these things drops like a rock past 6500 unless you swap to another turbo that doesn’t run out of steam. The 2L WRX’s from 05 and back actually have even less power up top thanks to the little quick spooling turbo’s on them that run out of steam earlier then the 2.5L STI turbo’s.

      Toyota can set that motor up any way they want depending on the turbo they use and how they tune it. Personally I’d prefer they update the EJ20 or EJ25 with direct injection and a variable geometry turbo. Improve MPG *and* performance all at once.

  • avatar
    msquare

    Direct conversion of UK prices to dollars generally doesn’t work.

    Case in point: Mini Cooper UK price is 14,090 GBP = $21,737 USD

    US MSRP is $18,800. Standard equipment may be different country to country, but US models tend to be better equipped than Euro models as a rule.

    One factor is the value-added tax (VAT) which is included in quoted UK prices. Another factor is that new car prices have historically run higher in the UK than even on the European continent. It’s been a long-standing debate there.

    Pricing strategy probably has more to do with it than anything else, however.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This isn’t surprising. I’m surprised people thought this car was going to sell to youth at all:
    * Younger folk aren’t taking to two-doors: look how most decent, affordable sporty cars with two rows of seats have been four-door hatches or sedans. Two-door sports cars are an older-generation thing.
    * The insurance requirements on a two-door sports car would kill most younger buyers. Even if you get a good lease, your insurance cost will double your payment at minimum.

    Most under-35s are looking for something with a modicum of practicality: they want a jack-of-all-trades car. A dedicated track toy is the purvue of the 50+ empty-nester, not the 25-year old making $25K and servicing a $30K student loan, or the 35-year old with kids on the way and a mortgage to pay. **

    Pricing up (and softening up) the FT-86 just enough to cover costs is fine. The few well-off kids who can buy it will, but it’ll sell better, and at higher margin, to it’s real market: the same (and older) demographic that actually buy cars like this.

    ** Note that the cars in Toyota’s lineup with the youngest demographics are the Yaris and the Sienna. You’ll see the same across most brands.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      Car makers haven’t been offering Americans affordable sporty 2 door cars with a hatch, so how can anyone buy them? Off the top of my head a Focus is about as exciting as it gets today. Golf/GTI is too expensive, and for whatever reason, the Civic hatch is denied us (which is a real shame because it looks like a space ship compared with anything else on the road.)

      Anyway, this Toyota thing seems practical enough: Four seats and a hatch works for me.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Car makers haven’t been offering Americans affordable sporty 2 door cars with a hatch, so how can anyone buy them?

      They did for quite some time: anything from the Celica, Integra/RSX, Civic, Focus, Golf, Tiburon, Mini, etc. Even the last F-Body was a hatch.

      What the kids actually wanted, though, were MazdaSpeed3s, Neon SRTs, WRXs, Evos, Civic Si sedans, etc, all of which handily outsold the slow-moving two-doors. Marketers, by and large, are not stupid. They know that the two-door, four-seat coupe’s days in the sun are gone, especially in the youth market. The WRX led the charge, but it’s far from the only one now. The only hold-over two-doors are niche and retro products.

      It’s a pattern we’ve seen over and over again: the Golf and GTI sold far better in five-door form than in three, as did the Impreza. Even when the Focus was available as a hatch, the ZX5 buried the ZX3.

      Personally, I won’t shed a tear. Good riddance.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    …and that’s why a 2011 Scion tC with 2.5 liter engine, 6 speed tranny, four wheel disc brakes, 8 air bags, rear wheel drive, independent suspension, two sun roofs, useful cargo space for $18K out the door is what makes it a realistic and very good car.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Change to FWD platform in 5,4,3…

  • avatar

    uh, in case none of you get it, us 20/30 sumthings are broke. we don’t make anything near what our group made 30 years ago. Hopefully, we can afford air to pump up our bike tires.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Bingo – The generation b4 us inherited and spent the wealth accumulated (+ much more) b4 them by the depression/WW2 generation who saved every penny they could. I will not inherit anything close to what my parents did, nor despite having the same level of education I will never make what my father did (and still be able to be a father), it’s basically a cycle and we are the broke ones again, but we are going to carry a weight much greater than our own (living with the reality that at some point I am going to have to pay much higher taxes (for less), I would rather start that process now before my part of the world looks like detroit)

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      rnc, I agree. Stable societies are destined to be more corrupt and put more burdens on the new generations, until another great war.

      To be honest, I can inherit a substantial amount. However, given how the society is declining, I can’t really say that the amount from my dad will cover me and my children to the day I die.

      The health care system and the pension system is destined to bankrupt at the expense of the contributors/taxpayers. I have to manage wealth carefully, so that I can at least help my children to pay 20% down payment for their houses.

      I can’t buy this $30k toy even if I like it.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      RNC and WSN – that is exactly the thoughts of my wife and I. Consequently we are shunning the reckless purchases made by those close to us in favor of cheaper vehicles (older). Yes, we are preparing to help our children in 15-20 years with their first homes. I think life in America will be much more expensive due to the choices of the previous and current presidents and their teams.

      Wonder if the car companies will notice this before or after they nearly go broke the next time? Perhaps somebody will start selling Dacia Logans here soon? (Cheap, utilitarian, who cares if it is fast?)

      FWIW I am really impressed this Toyota. Will be much like the Ferraris on my bedroom wall when I was a kid – unattainable… (We did not get laid off, not drowning in debt, very conservative spenders by choice pre- and post-recession).

  • avatar
    Joe_Gamer

    “Hey there fellow Toyota manager, I’m worried that we are just not gonna sell enough of these here FT-86′s” “well, how bout we just raise the price and decrease the performance, that would really shake up the market” “Yeah you’re right, no one will be expecting that”

    God damn idiots, for that kind of money why would I not just buy a real WRX with AWD and 5 doors?

  • avatar
    Accazdatch

    And ya know…

    As much as I do hate to be Mr Negative…

    Im sick and tired of hearing of the issues Toyota is having.

    I have no trust in them.
    I have no faith in them..

    And I wish to god they get strung up n snipped for the b.s they pull with the NHTSA and these lawsuits.

    You don’t actually think IM GOING to let them slide cause this new car is coming.

    You don’t actually think that ANYONE IN HERE should let them slide.. cause these FUCKERS pound out another car?

    I don’t

    And you shouldn’t either.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    I don’t care, I want an LF-A.

  • avatar

    Dude seriously. they were making more than one version already. if they want to appeal to someone make a version with the subaru engine and one for there “clean fuel efficiency” if the can’t keep the hp behind when switching the engine I’d say those two verions are there best bet. they will have buyers from all over.

    although production of each may cost a bit more. It might be worth making both there luxury version and sport version.  The 86 was made for pushing anyway haha.

  • avatar
    siuol11.2

    Can you say “Saturn Sky”? We have seen this before.


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