By on August 30, 2011

“When we started working on the FT-86 we had no idea where we would end up,” said Tetsuya Tada, whom I met last Sunday to talk about his work.

Was it going to be a ridiculously expensive car? Or one anyone can buy? All we knew it was going to be a sports car. The rest was a blank sheet.”

The FT-86 that eventually took shape on this blank sheet will be in showrooms down the street from you, all over the world, next year.

The FT-86 ”may just be the car to herald Toyota’s ‘second renaissance,” if some enthusiast blogs are right.

At the very least, this car will change how we think and dream of a sports car: We won’t. This is not a dream car. For most of us, it will be an impulse buy.

Tetsuya Tada tells its story.

Tetsuya Tada is the Chief Engineer of the FT-86, Toyota’s new sports car that had powered the rumor mills for many years. Some enthusiast blogs enthusiastically painted Tada as the “Jason Bourne of Toyota Sports car development.” If that is the case, then he is the friendliest and most unassuming Jason Bourne I ever heard of. He is the man I’d expect to see carrying two bags when I take out my carefully sorted garbage after midnight in a quiet Japanese neighborhood. As a Toyota Chief Engineer however, Tada carries more responsibility and more power than the Ludlum hero. Scott Bellware once described the role of a Chief Engineer at Toyota like this:

“He is the person responsible for the design, development, and sale of the product. He is the organizational pinnacle and the hub through which authority and ability flow. The CE isn’t just an architect or technical lead or just a customer proxy or just a project manager or just process master. He’s all of these things and more. He doesn’t just pass along customer requirements for the product, he defines them. He doesn’t just implement the business’s design for the product, he creates it. He’s large and in-charge, and he’s uniquely and deeply qualified to be so.

Because all of these abilities and authorities are invested in one extremely capable, senior, trusted product development person, the coordination of the various perspectives, values, and vision of a product and its execution don’t suffer design-by-committee issues. And because the CE has these many responsibilities and abilities, he’s a rare person.”

Tada indeed is a rare person. Dressed in khaki pants and a striped shirt, the affable attitude accentuated by rimless glasses, he hides all that power well.

We met last Sunday at Toyota’s Megaweb down by the waterfront. Megaweb is part theme park, part test drive venue. We met there, because an FT-86 prototype is on display. We didn’t go there to drive it. First off, Megaweb is not a test track. It was barely appropriate to give the iQ a slow spin. Second, most of the FT-86 is still a secret. Doors and hatches of the car on display are locked tight. So were the lips of its Chief Engineer.

“You can ask anything except specs and price,” Tada-san announced after we found a quiet space away from the din of the Megaweb.

“In that case, let’s have lunch,” was my answer.

In lieu of talking about cars, we found out that Tada lived where I lived during his time in Germany: In Düsseldorf Oberkassel, me because of its watering holes, him because of the Japanese school. Japan’s Jason Bourne is a dad who rather did a 100km round trip commute to Toyota Cologne each day than put his children’s education at risk. Speaking of lunch, we established that we both had regular lunch at the Kikaku, Düsseldorf’s best sushi place. That created a bit of bonding, and Tada started talking about the car.

When Tada stared at a white page, it was 2007. He didn’t know what to think:

“We did know from the very beginning that it was going to be a sports car. I said, well, if it’s going to be a sports car, it has to go fast. We were looking at the Nissan GT-R, the Mitsubishi Evolution, those cars were in our heads at the original stage.

Then we thought: Should we make a car that is faster than the GT-R?

You know what we did then? We did a lot of research. We talked to owners, fanatics, real buyers of sports cars around the world. They told us: Speed isn’t everything. If it’s just an incredibly fast car, they don’t really want it. What they want is a sports car that is small, compact, light, and that handles just the way they want it to handle.”

The customers wanted more: They wanted a sports car for less. A Veyron makes for good copy and dreams. But it also causes can’t-have-it frustrations. Tada listened intently to his future customers:

“The super-super-super fast cars are only for the super-rich. Even most super-rich don’t want to buy them. The people I talked to were looking for something like the 80s kind of a sports car, echoes of an AE86. They wanted a stripped-down, basic sports car with the price more like that of a piece of sports equipment, not the price of a house. Those people wanted something that doesn’t exist.”

Tada and his team set out to design the impossible. A year later, they had the design, the specs, and the price point. Tada presented it to the board of Toyota. The concept was approved. The project had an important advocate on the board: Akio Toyoda. At the time, the CEO was Katsuaki Watanabe. The time was 2008, and all over the world, the skies were falling.

Tada puts it in his trademark humble words when he describes the boardroom discussions:

“Sometimes, it is a little hard to explain why this kind of a vehicle is needed for the Toyota brand. If you just take the commercial point of view – it won’t make a lot of money, and of course, there are some people who object to that. But as they say, money isn’t everything – especially when it comes to branding.”

At the height of carmageddon, Tada received the go-ahead for what we would call an “enthusiast car.” The Japanese have a more befitting description. It’s a nekkyousha car” a car for maniacs – in a good way. It helped that Toyota’s resident auto otaku, Akio Toyoda, was behind the concept, and it helped even more that he became President of Toyota a year later.

Asked what changed for the FT-86 when Toyoda took the helm of Toyota, Tada says: ”He became one of our test drivers.”

Asked what it means when you work in the shadow, but also in full view of the President of the world’s largest carmaker, Tada changes the subject. His true boss is the customer, and the customer didn’t want another rice racer:

“It is possible to soup-up sedans or hatchbacks to make them sporty. But what these people are after is a body that is already very low to the ground, very sleek, a body that they can then work on – if they want.”

As for low to the ground, Tada promises a “production car with the world’s lowest center of gravity.” The FT-86 will be a tinkerer’s car. The car is named “FT-86” for a reason. Toyota wants to make a mental connection to the AE86, the archetypical cult-craze car from the Star Wars era. Nearly 20 years later, the hachiroku (Japanese for 86) still commands a following for which some modern day Messiahs would kill. Toyota wants to build a new millennium hachiroku so bad, they even kept the number. Says Tada:

“The 86 was such a popular maniac car not because of what the maker did, but what the users did with it. It created its own aftermarket and a tuner industry. The idea of the FT-86 is basically the same. We want to create a car that is easy for people to tune and to play with.”

Tada indeed is a rare person. The Teutonic engineers I grew up with used go into convulsions or threw screaming fits when people modified “their cars” – except maybe using factory-approved and overpriced accessories.

Tada smiles when you ask him whether is hurts his pride as an engineer when the people of SEMA gang-rape “his car.”

“Yes.”

A short, but honest answer. Isn’t it painful to spend years designing the perfect car, and to make it so perfect in a sense that some guys in a garage can modify it beyond recognition without even breaking a sweat or lighting a welder?

“Yes.”

The Chief Engineer’s sensitivities are touched by the most benign act of modding – the choice of tires:

“We usually come up with a designated tire, a tire that is optimal for the car. We arrive at this decision after long tests. That some guys go and decide their own tire steals a little something from the enjoyment of the engineer – but that’s the concept of this vehicle. It is not made for the enjoyment of the engineer – it is made for the enjoyment of the owner.”

That owner may not need a lot of money, but he will need to know how to drive. He will need to use his own brain and the seat of his own pants. Tada had jotted down the principle in his self-derived design guide, and he sticks with it:

“From the beginning, the concept was to put the driver back in the driver’s seat, and to eliminate computers as much as possible today. Powerful sports cars use a lot of computer technology so that anyone can drive and handle them. We decided not to go down that road.”

The FT-86 has about half of the computing power that is dragged around in a modern day car. The preferred shifter is a stick. An automatic is optional. The slushbox is nothing fancy. “No DSG or anything of that kind,” says Tada, and is proud. Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard. Computers want to keep you on the straight and narrow, but some FT-86 owners want that car to go sideways. If you need nannies, go down to the children’s hospital.

The FT-86 will be built at Fuji Heavy’s Subaru, and when I mention that, the engineer’s pride shifts into low gear – for extra revs. Tada quickly explains that this is just contract production, and it’s the same as “when we make cars at Central Motors or Kanto Auto Works.” Both are separate companies, but they are also part of the greater Toyota empire. Toyota owns a good chunk of Fuji Heavy, so Subaru is part of the family – in a way.

Subaru will produce its own version, probably called the BRZ. Both companies also developed the car together, and that must have been an interesting exercise. Recalls Tada:

“The first year was actually quite tough. The character and processes of the two companies are quite different. In the beginning, we sat down and decided who does what. That didn’t work out very well, because of the cultural differences between the companies. When people started to become more interested in the car itself, people from both sides ended up becoming one team. In the end, it wasn’t so much Toyota doing this and Subaru doing that, but people working together with one goal.”

In the maniac, well, enthusiast scene, it is pretty much gospel that the cars use Subaru’s flat four “D4-S” boxer engine. Depending on whom you believe, the production engine ranges from a tried & true to a refined & modified D4-S. That elicits protests from Tada, as loud as the softspoken man can manage:

“No,no, no – it is a completely new engine. The engine is still a boxer. The technology, even the engine block are completely new. Everything is new. The only thing that remained are the mounting points.”

Imagine how much engineer’s pride that one did cost. A completely new engine was developed. At the same time it comes with an invitation to be swapped for whatever follows the Subaru bolt pattern.

After years of concept cars, the production version of the FT-86 will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, December 2 – December 11, 2011. “Next year” (most likely in spring), the car will be launched. It won’t be available in Japan first and years later elsewhere. It will, says Tada, be available next year “all over the world.” In the U.S., it will definitely by a Scion. In the rest of the world, it will be a Toyota.

Jack Baruth and Sajeev Mehta equipped me with a long list of questions. After Tada’s initial admonition that we can talk about everything except specs and price, I didn’t have much hope for answers, but nonetheless, I tried. The following Q&A ensued:

“Can you tell me the weight?” “No.”

“Can you tell me the horsepower?” “No.”

“Can you tell me the weight distribution?” “No.”

“Can you tell me the price” “No. It will be affordable.”

“Suspension?” “McPherson, double wishbone.” And a smile.

And so it went while Tada was conspicuously consulting his watch, signaling that time, patience, or both are running out. All I could do was to use the old investigative reporter trick, put two versions on the table, and ask which one is close. I used the crowd-sourced specs from the fountain of knowledge.

Tada eye-balls both. And gives his verdict. See above.

Last question time!

“Mr. Tada – is it true that you compared the color of the FT-86 to the ass of a monkey?”

Ooops. The Chief Engineer covers his mouth in feigned shock and explains that he indeed had experienced “some trouble” after magazines had written that he indeed had compared the car’s color to a monkey’s derriere. He quickly adds that he had referred not to just any monkey, but to a genuine Japanese monkey, those amicable animals that visit hot springs in wintertime, with icicles dangling from their furs – parts of Japan’s storied heritage.

And that’s not all, says Tada. The FT-86 red can also be compared to the world famous Japanese sunset (no sunrise is mentioned) and to the dragonfly. In Japan, the dragonfly is a symbol of courage, strength, and happiness – it even symbolizes the whole Japanese archipelago.

So there you have it. The FT-86 is so customizable, so tunable, so hot-roddable that it gives you a choice of associations triggered by its color. Depending on your mood, you can pick sunset, dragonfly, or an entirely appropriate greased monkey. As long as they are Japanese.

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118 Comments on “The Truth About The FT-86. Straight From The Mouth Of The Chief Engineer...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    Bertel, thanks.

    I’d rather read about Mr. Tada than El Lutzbo.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Maybe, but “and of course, there are some people who object to that. But as they say, money isn’t everything – especially when it comes to branding” is exactly what Lutz was saying at GM as he tried to pull the designs, the brands, the profits and the corporation out of the ditch…

      Re. the car, I’m ok with a boxer motor, but why did the car have to look from the side like the Nissan X? Couldn’t they have made it look more like the classic Supra??

    • 0 avatar
      Elusivellama

      Toyota, this is your chance to show the world that your passion for sports cars has not died out! Sadly I won’t be a potential buyer because I already have a DD that has to do double duty as a sporty car and as a commuter/grocery-getter (2010 MS3), but that doesn’t mean that I cannot get excited about this.

      Everything that I’ve said bad about Toyota… I will take it ALL back if the FT-86 (as a Scion) is a runaway success.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m getting a kind of RX-8 feel from this, what with hints of lack of power, low centre of gravity, simple automatic and so forth.

    I can’t help but think it’ll see RX-8ish sales levels. I want to be proven wrong, but unless it’s really, really cheap, it’s kind of a car looking for a market: no “heritage” for the greybeards, no luxury for rich, no obscene muscle for the speed freaks, no auspices of practicality for people who have to compromise.

    Now, all that said, I like the way it looks. It’s the same thing I like about the Forte Koup, only with a little more purpose and a lot less overhang. I’m certainly going to try to swing it when it’s for sale, too. Hopefully I’ll fit…

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      I worry about that too. It’s got plenty of heritage as far as I’m concerned, but sports coupes started dying out 10-15 years ago. I was in high school back then, and there was a definite shift in preferences towards sedans, even among the sport compact crowd.

      Miata sales are low these days too. I dunno. Enthusiasts love to talk about what they want, but when it comes to actually buying we’re full of excuses.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Generally speaking, enthusiast’s cars often aren’t practical for a daily driver.

        To me, a practical, daily driver enthusiast’s car is a Corvette! That is, if I could afford one!

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I’m thinking the same thing here. Like how the RX-8 was Mazda’s “halo car”. For years Toyota made cars like this; FT-86 Corolla, Celica, Supra, MR2. All gone. It’s about time they are back with something.

    • 0 avatar

      It should sell much better than the RX-8 because:

      –it will likely be a little cheaper

      –it won’t have a rotary engine with the fuel economy and reliability issues this entails

      –it’s a Toyota and not a Mazda

      Limitations:

      –horsepower will be lower than people who focus on numbers expect

      The Big Question:

      –talk is cheap. Tada says all of the right things, but will the car deliver them? I’m very interested in seeing how it steers and handles.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Agree about the horsepower. Toyota always makes engines that look great when you read the spec sheet, and then underperform on the road. I think it’s because their corporate culture won’t allow an overstressed engine that might break and thereby stain the corporate honor.

        Honda’s disposable coupes used to whip on them because Honda’s corporate culture didn’t have this problem — although maybe now it does.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think the RX-8′s lack of power wouldn’t have been a problem if it had gas mileage to match. 6-cylinder horsepower and 4-cylinder torque while getting the gas mileage of an 8-cylinder truck is a tough sell.

      I’ll be surprised if the FT86 has that problem.

      • 0 avatar
        Boff

        Don’t forget: the exclusivity of a V-10 and the sound of a V-12. :)

        Power to weight ratio of the FT86 will be less than the RX-8, and I have a feeling that most will consider the car underpowered, ultimately.

  • avatar

    “Because all of these abilities and authorities are invested in one extremely capable, senior, trusted product development person, the coordination of the various perspectives, values, and vision of a product and its execution don’t suffer design-by-committee issues. ”

    So the Camry Chief Engineer must be the Japanese equivalent of Marvin Milquetoast…

    • 0 avatar
      monomille

      Its all about the breadth of goals to be achieved – this approach works very well when the design has a tight set of goals. The FT86 and the Prius are two different kinds of examples. Everyone who has worked on large and complex design projects knows how easily they can get out of balance when system engineering focus is lost and/or program “managers” run amok. For a large organization to give the Chief Engineer full range authority for program control is gutsy and can really pay off. Few on this site are Prius fans but having lived with a 2005 I can attest to the system integration achieved by its designers in meeting its specific goals – they are completely different in specifics than those of the FT86 but similar in the sense of being tightly bounded.

  • avatar
    niky

    The engine mounts thing has probably got every tuner from here to Timbuktoo (hear it’s lovely there this time of year) drooling over the possibility of Subaru boxer and Cosworth-fettled Subaru boxer swaps.

    I love what he said about tires… that indicates that they really spent a good amount of time fettling the suspension… because it’s only on a car that have been obsessively tweaked at the factory that changing out the standard tires actually ruin it.

    I really do hope they hit all the right markers. And I’m looking forward to the inevitable FT-86 versus MX-5 reviews…

    • 0 avatar
      word is bond

      I’m looking forward to the inevitable Ft-86 versus Genesis Coupe road tests.
      I drove a Genesis coupe (unfortunately w/o a stick) and liked it.
      We’ll have to see whether it would be a closer matchup with the 4cyl or 6cyl genesis.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      The Genesis… not so much. It’s more of a grand-tourer-slash-sports-car than a sports-car-slash-errh-sports-car, as the MX-5 is and the FT-86 aspires to be.

      I can already tell you, the Genesis 2.0T already loses in that regard to the MX-5.

      • 0 avatar
        Buzz Killington

        not to mention that this car is going to be a LOT smaller than a Genesis; it’s pretty close in size to an S2000/MX-5:

        Concept compared to the Mustang, Genesis and MX-5:

        http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v635/jordanab/FT-86/FT_IIvsGenCvsStangvsMX5.png

        Compared to AE86:

        http://lh3.ggpht.com/_OImsMElgaAU/S46NT-uhogI/AAAAAAAAAI8/DrouInVE72c/s800/Toyota-FT-86-AE-86.gif

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @buzz: Excellent picture comparo… looks like I was right on with my guess that it will be more of a Miata 2+2 coupe.

        And that AE86 is beautiful, and practically the same size as the FT86!

  • avatar

    I just picked up an X3 with the turbo-6. I was driven there in an ’06 Elise. Sooo…yeah.

    If we’re lucky, this is the Miata. If we aren’t, it’s the RX-8.

    • 0 avatar
      Strippo

      I’m thinking it may be the best 240SX ever.

      • 0 avatar
        240SX_KAT

        YOU BITE YOUR TONGUE!

        That thing is pure ugly compared to an S13 Coupe.
        It’s also unfortunate that you won’t be able to buy it without all the nannies, simply not allowed anymore. As of 2012 all vehicles in the US are required to have ABS, stability control, tire pressure monitors (or run flats) and air bags. Everything I don’t want in a car and makes it more expensive and more failure prone.
        I’ve been driving an S13 240sx coupe since I bought one new in 1991 and I’m starting to get the itch for something else. What I really want is an S13 with no miles on the chassis so it feels new again. I’ll wait to see what Nissan is doing for competition.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Honda needs to build something similar to this or they are in trouble. As in, next RSX…RWD? Won’t hold my breath, but they need such to compete with Scion as they want to (sidebar: the next RL was supposed to be RWD with a V8, wouldn’t it have been nice to produce a coupe version…but was shelved along with the USDM spec diesel in TSX, gotta love the crap US economy…)

    Sales volume aside, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe has seemed to be a hit with tuners, if Toyota/Subaru can duplicate this success, AND MATCH OR BEAT THE PRICE, they might have a modern day AE86 cult following brewing.

    I’d drive one, and i’m a picky SOB. Make it a 2+2 I could put my kids in occasionally and there might be a Scion or Subie in my garage. Keep up the fight Tada-san! And make it sub $20k…

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      while the idea of another RWD Honda is fantastic, I do believe it is just that; a fantasy. I owned an S2000, and it was by far and away the best car I have ever owned and/or operated. it was a motorcycle with 4 wheels. but i’ve also owned 3 other Hondas. and I would settle for the Honda that made its name here by being known for the same things Toyota is known for: quality and reliability. and then to that mix they added world-class engine development. Honda started as a motor company, and for so long, no matter what Honda you drove, you always felt like the engine up front was something more special and had more character than the generic 1.8L in your neighbor’s Corolla. If Honda kept making cars like the Integra, the Prelude, the Accords before they turned into Camrys with different interiors.. yes they wouldn’t sell as many as Toyota, but they won’t anyways.

      As far as this FT-86 is concerned… I wish it wouldn’t be a Scion. Heritage does matter. This car, for all the work being put into it, it should link back to Toyota’s great cars like the RWD Celica, the Supra, the AW11 MR2, and yes the AE86. If you say Scion, it brings to mind Americanized Japanese mini-cars. I actually like the Scions for what they are. this car, if it’s as good as it seems like it will be, won’t need to be ‘marketed’ at people. they’ll seek it out. and I don’t think it needs to be a ‘halo’ car. just let it stand for what Toyota stood for at the time the AE86 Corolla was on sale. Yes they made vanilla sedans, but they also made interesting cars that people cared about.

      and if this forces Nissan to resurect the S-series cars.. well bring it on. just don’t give the US versions crappy truck motors.

      maybe we’re nostalgic for the Japanese motor industry that existed in the 80s and 90s and has moved ahead without us. and maybe this TOYOTA will bring it back..

      • 0 avatar
        240SX_KAT

        I’ll take the truck engine over the SR20 any day, only a fool throws away 20% of their displacement.
        Sure, it’s not as smooth at high RPMs but it’s tougher with a better valve train. It’s got way more ‘area under the curve’ with the same boost making it a superior street motor.
        On the other hand, I’m a little bit biased.
        I am waiting with great interest to see what Nissan does for their S series replacement.

      • 0 avatar
        jco

        had the s13 and s14 been available in the US with the SR20DET, i think it would have turned out differently. instead of being widely mocked for not delivering on the promise of its looks, 2-door configuration, and RWD layout, it would probably have sold more than 2 generations and Nissan may have well continued to sell them into the S15 generation here.

        i understand what you’re saying about the KA performing well under boost, but we’re talking about a car you could purchase off the showroom floor. everyone knows how tuneable the S-series cars are NOW. that’s why they buy used models and modify them. no matter how good they are, no BRAND NEW car sells on how good you CAN make it. a very small percentage of buyers want to write a check every month for a car they think needs more money thrown at it. not to mention the warranty issues, too.

        toyota knows this. they cannot market a car exclusively to people who don’t like it the way they build it to start with. the FT doesn’t need to be perfect. it does need to be a good place to start, though. it should all of the things they intend: “What they want is a sports car that is small, compact, light, and that handles just the way they want it to handle.” if it stays true to that, people will enjoy it as a brand new car that drives well in stock form. and the ‘cult’ following will develop on the 2nd hand market on its own. see the S197 mustang for a good example.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    If they can get the car sold for under 15K they’re going to have a massive hit. Realistically, we’re looking at 20K minimum and more so around 22-23K on every dealership lot because they don’t want some left over two-door car sitting around for months unsold. I would love to own a miata but I am sadly too tall (6’4″) and chunky. So this may be the answer to my unsaid prayers. If anything I still don’t get why the US is denied hot hatchbacks or even hot compacts. We have the semi-weeny Honda Si and that’s it. We never see the Focus RS or anything with real power. Instead we’re handed underpowered sports cars that are fun to drive but need to be the second car for anybody over the age of 30.

    Still, if this car can get out of the dealerships around 15-16K I could see them bringing back Toyota. Otherwise I agree, RX-8 all over again.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      With wildly unrealistic expectations like that, the car is doomed!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Completely agree. Given it will wear a Scion badge if its cheaper than the tC, the tC has no reason to live. Spare me the argument that the world needs underpowered front wheel drive cars masquerading as sport coupes. Just about every manufacturer that sells in North America has given up that notion.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      15-16k will get you a Yaris. The TC starts at 19K. I’m guessing this will be in the 25-30k range. As long as the interior isn’t as cheap as the rest of Scion, it should do ok.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      It definitely won’t be anywhere near $15K, considering that would get you a Miata 20 years ago, but if they can keep it around $23K to start and $27K with all options checked – and I’m guessing the option list will be very short – they’ll sell every single one they can make.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        27K for a I-4 version of a 370Z….That’s going to be a stretch. I was arguing way too low. But 21K would be the optimal price point. A cheap fun sports car is rare and at 27K you’re pushing into gently used Boxster territory and again 370Z.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        $23K gets you into or just about gets you into a Genesis Coupe, Camaro, Mustang, Civic Si, MX-5, Velocitor [sic], Mazda SPEED3, and the list goes on. Not to say a Scion buyer will cross shop every car on that list, but even at $23K the competition is very stiff.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        27K for a I-4 version of a 370Z….That’s going to be a stretch. I was arguing way too low. But 21K would be the optimal price point. A cheap fun sports car is rare and at 27K you’re pushing into gently used Boxster territory and again 370Z.

        $27K will get you a nicely equipped V6 Mustang or Camaro with a manual. Certainly gets you an MX-5. Gets you a nearly loaded Mazda SPEED3. You’re tickling a 370Z as you noted. Gets you into a Genesis Coupe with money left over.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      That “gently used boxster” is likely going to vomit pieces of it’s engine all over the road spontaneously. I have a hard time recommending a used Porsche from the last 10 years to anyone, and I LIKE the Cayman.

      On topic, I would be shocked if this retailed as a stripper for less than $25k. The trick is to build a car that the younger set lusts after, but the older set can afford. It would be great if they could build something like this for 15k, but that hasn’t been a serious mark for anything but the low end for years. I would definitely schedule a test drive if they beat out base model Mustang money, but I have a sneaking suspicion we are looking more at 370z money.

      • 0 avatar
        odeen

        $22,500 + destination charge will get you a Genesis Coupe with power windows, air conditioning, and a massively tunable turbo 4-banger. 210hp doesn’t sound isn’t all that impressive, except that’s VW GTI level power, and it’s driving the rear wheels.

        $24,500 gets you the R-spec trim with 19″ rims with summer tires, Brembo brakes and a limited-slip differential. Oh, and no auto headlights or cruise control. (WTF, Hyundai?)

        I don’t see the how a “stripper” FT-86 for the same $25K is a better value. Unless… it’s insanely light, handles like a go-cart, and is immediately able to be upgraded to 250-285 hp.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      “I still don’t get why the US is denied hot hatchbacks or even hot compacts…”

      Price. If the Focus RS were to come to the US it would need to be priced at $40-45k. The US is denied such hatchbacks because you (and me) want to buy them for $15-16k. Simply put, there’s no real market in the US for hot hatches, because they cost too much. Sad, but true. In Europe there’s an incentive to drive small fast cars, in the States there isn’t.

      It’s the same with the diesel-wagon-stick syndrome. Everyone on the interwebs seemingly loves them, but car manufacturers can’t sell enough of them to be profitable. And it’s well known that the (very vocal) people who go gaga for such cars are only interested in buying them used…

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        It’s not just price, it’s also that affordable sporty cars tend not to sell well after they’ve been out for a while. Take a look at the Mustang; it’s had a major style refresh last year and brand new engines this year, but it still increasingly loses sales to the Camaro. Meanwhile, vanillamobiles tend to sell more consistently year after year.

        Toyota doesn’t offer any affordable car in America that I care about right now. I hope the FT-86 changes that, and I also hope that Toyota won’t be scared off of selling affordable sporty cars when the inevitable sales decline of the FT-86 occurs during the middle of its first generation run.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      I am willing to pay $35k if the real car looks identical to the picture and accelerates quicker than a Camry V6.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Nice car! Those wheels look like the slicing disc off a Cuisinart.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    So many awsome things in this interview. I am really excitig that they decided to give power back to the driver rather than having electric nannies interrupting the fun. I also like the fact that the car isn’t some modified eco box and the car is designed from the ground up for performance and awsome handling. Definitely good things to hear from the number one appliance maker!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Bob Lutz should try building an appliance like that.

    It does well in the styling department, and I’ll bet that it drives even better.

    But branding it as a Scion would be a mistake. Scion has no heritage in this space, while Toyota does. And at this point, Toyota could use a halo car of sorts.

    • 0 avatar
      rwb

      Toyota’s “space” has changed since the AE86, and they know this. They’ve settled into their most recent position as the “best vanilla” and it’s working well for them, complaints from enthusiasts aside.

      Some broader demographic markets confuse marketers and force them to compartmentalize, hence Scion because Toyota felt they were losing the kids. Toyota doesn’t really have a place for a low-cost sports car. Lexus got the expensive one, (the real Toyota brand halo,) and now the hat-backwards brand gets the cheap one. Toyota just makes regular cars.

      Of course, marketing in America is a special sort of thing, logic does not necessarily apply.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      But branding it as a Scion would be a mistake. Scion has no heritage in this space, while Toyota does. And at this point, Toyota could use a halo car of sorts.

      I don’t think I agree. The kind of people for whom the pedigree of this car has relevance don’t have an issue with the Scion brand, and Toyota already has the Prius as a halo car, and it’s not like the FT-86 is going to help move any Camries or Highlanders.

      It wouldn’t hurt to brand it as a Scion or a Toyota either way, and Scion needs the help. Someone could concievably come in, look at this and decide that perhaps a more relaxed-fit option like the tC might be a better idea.

      I will confess I have a soft spot for Scion inasmuch as I like the idea of quirky little cars that don’t really fit with the rest of Toyota’s North American presence.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Toyota’s “space” has changed since the AE86, and they know this.

      Back during the AE 86 days, Toyota was a mainstream car maker with a reputation for quality and a corresponding price premium.

      Today, Toyota is a mainstream car maker with a reputation for quality and a corresponding price premium. The only difference is that it is a mainstream automaker that currently doesn’t have any sporty or pony cars in its US lineup.

      It’s fairly routine for mainstream car brands to offer performance cars and variants in their lineups. Toyota is actually a bit of an outlier in its complete avoidance of these segments in North America. There’s no branding conflict to have such cars, and there may be a benefit.

      The kind of people for whom the pedigree of this car has relevance don’t have an issue with the Scion brand

      Scion’s supposed objective was to attract young buyers with a bit of quirk, no-haggle pricing and customization. (Hence, the xB.) But its ultimate goal was to create a pipeline of buyers for the main Toyota brand with which it shares its dealerships — it’s supposed to be a gateway to the main company, not a full-fledged standalone marque.

      I have been suspecting for awhile that Scion is suffering from mission creep. Since it hasn’t done so well, it’s looking for ways to stay relevant, even when it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, this news confirms my suspicions. The effort completely misses the point of the brand’s existence, which is to support Toyota, not to compete against it.

      For TMC, the Toyota brand has far more value than does the Scion brand. It’s a bad idea to expand Scion beyond its primary purpose, and a car like this is better suited serving in the role that the Celica once did and what the Mustang does now (for Ford, of course.)

      • 0 avatar
        SKUSA_boy

        What exactly are you talking about with all this Toyota heritage thing anyway? The last generation Celica was a joke. It was driven by high school girls. An Integra Type R of the same time would absolutely obliterate it.

        Actually the Celica became a joke in 1986 when the Celica Supra was dropped and the Supra became a separate model.

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    Great interview! I’m ready to order one with MT.

  • avatar
    ambulancechaser

    Awesome. Another sports car that 6’4″ of me won’t fit into. Thanks a lot. Guess I’ll keep buying SUVs and Crossovers then.

    • 0 avatar

      You would think that any vehicles sold in the US would take this into consideration. There are plenty of tall folks here that don’t just need room in the car for their stovepipe hats. At 6’3″ I shouldn’t have to exclude cars becuase I can’t fit in them. I really I hope I fit in this thing.

  • avatar
    eldard

    Yay! More teenage accidents waiting to happen. REmind me to invest in wheelchair companies.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      No worries, however I have bought some stock in the factory that manufactures these lovely toys:

      http://image20.webshots.com/21/6/72/66/197067266LwLmlP_ph.jpg

      So far the profits have been good.

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        You must be new here and thus unfamiliar with my AWESOME wisdom. ^^

        Saab should refrain from making cars and switch to making those toys, though. Maybe those workers won’t have to go hungry.

  • avatar
    word is bond

    I hope the Scion and Toyota badges also share the same mounts…

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    While I respect the mind-set that Toyota is approaching this car; fun-to-drive, modifiable, affordable, and customizable by the user, I fear that the reception of this car may be luke-warm in the West.

    I suspect that the car may fall into the ‘fast-enough’ school of design, where they design the car to be ‘fast-enough’ for the practical means of most drivers rather than hitting marketable performance goals.

    And really, DSG may not be as fun as a real manual, but it helps in the 0-60 times. The car is rumored to be aiming for a 7~8 second range for their 0-60mph times. The car may be a hard sell if it approaches $25k considering the competition. Increasingly, these sort of irrelevant paper specs have become crucial for a car that is designed primarily to generate an image boost for a brand under fire.

    While I find the goals commendable, the larger realities are that subjective qualities like ‘soul’ and ‘driver enjoyment’ may not translate well to the Western automotive reviewer that may have different biases that may not favor Toyota. Increasingly, the enthusiast automotive market is being dominated by entertainment-based reporting and reviews like Jalopnik and the likes of Top Gear. More then ever, 0-60 times, horsepower paper specs, Youtube videos of Nürburgring lap times, etc. are becoming increasingly important.

  • avatar
    niky

    Well… it’s easier to achieve that 0-60 time if you can do a peel out… which should be more possible with a standard auto (say, have the converter lock raised to 4k rpm when at a standstill versus 2.5k when moving) than a DSG, which tend to hate slipping clutches.

  • avatar
    mannygg

    You lived in Düsseldorf Oberkassel for the watering holes? Altstadt or Pempelfort I can understand, but Oberkassel for me always seemed more of a ‘cafes and riverside walks’ kind of area. Very nice though.

    • 0 avatar

      Tourists. I lived two houses from Sassafras. That and the Muggel were the hot places at the times. Long ago.

      • 0 avatar
        mannygg

        I have been out in Oberkassel once or twice, but i expect the bar/club scene is not as it once was. I still think Pempelfort and even some places on the Kö are good, though maybe its time for another trip across the Rhein.

        Also, this car will be fantastic. As someone who is buying a 4-seat sports car at the moment, there is not a lot of choice, new or used. This would be perfect.

  • avatar
    odeen

    “The FT-86 is so customizable, so tunable, so hot-roddable that it gives you a choice of associations triggered by its color.” But it doesn’t give me a choice of automatic transmission shift points. I think that’s kind of more important, for those of us that sit in traffic with a coffee cup in our hands, but still want a car that’s fun on back roads and winding freeway on-ramps.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I’d have great respect for this car if they don’t offer it with an automatic at all. Make it exclusive to true enthusiasts, like the Z06 and the Elise. Most potentially cool cars I see on the road are easy to dismiss with the line, “it’s probably an automatic”.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      If we want it to succeed, then the automatic is a must.

      Look at it as the “911 Tax”… for every 911 GT3RS on the road, you have to put up a with five 911 Carrera 4S… shudder… convertibles and ten Cayennes.

  • avatar
    mr_min

    Great article Bertel, this brings back lots of good memories.
    Megaweb – Check.
    The description of a Toyota CE “An quiet, unassuming person who wields enormous power” – Check

    Its being a long time since Toyota had a decent sports car. I love the AE86, but for me the last decent Toyota sports cars was the 2000GT. If only I bought the rusty 2000GT parked on along side route 248 in Toyotashi 12 yrs ago…

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Nice story, very nice.

    But I must be an outlier in the car-world; an oddball. Another clean-sheet supercar. Yawn. Zzzz. I just can’t care about these things.

    My ‘supercar’ is a normal-person’s car (as opposed to one intended for the ‘stupid-rich’) that is head and shoulders above the competition in several areas, for the same money. A car that is your servant, not your master. Not a one trick pony, but a ‘do lots of stuff partner.’ A strong, reliable, family friend.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    “It is not made for the enjoyment of the engineer – it is made for the enjoyment of the owner.”

    I love able, understated people like that. Great read, Bertel.

    I’m tired of artists and creators whose performance or work always scream “Look at me! Look at me! See how great I am!” (the cult of “celebrity” or “star”) I much prefer people who humbly and honestly direct attention towards their work rather than themselves.

    It sounds to me that he (and the entire engineering team) was trying to build a car that you have to work at, a car that you need to get a ‘feel’ for, a car with the kind of imperfections for which many here claim to have been aching. Put simply, it sounds like he was trying to make a driver’s car. I hope they succeeded, and I hope the car gets the kind of cult following that a car like that would deserve (assuming of course that it actually does well what it was designed to do).

  • avatar
    dwight

    Cool looking car but I’d prefer to get behind the wheel of the Corolla in the drift show video. That looks like a fun driving and fast RWD car. Probably a lot lighter, too.

  • avatar
    Robert Fahey

    Three big obstacles:

    1. Depressed job market. Young people can’t buy if they can’t earn.
    2. Insurance cost. Young fans? Powerful car? Rear drive? KA-CHING.
    3. Lending standards. How far will Toyota’s financial arm stretch?

    These factors tend to drive the buyer’s age up up and away.

  • avatar
    Syke

    I tend to like Toyota products about as much as Silvy likes Ford’s. Except that I keep my mouth shut on the subject since I can’t be rational and fair.

    I’m waiting for the price. I’m interested. I’m dreading the inevitable “market adjustment” sticker.

    • 0 avatar
      DucRam

      Since it will be sold as a non-haggle Scion, there should not be a ‘market adjustment.’ At least that’s what I am hoping. Otherwise they will have to wait a year or so to get my business.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    I really liked this part:

    “From the beginning, the concept was to put the driver back in the driver’s seat, and to eliminate computers as much as possible today. Powerful sports cars use a lot of computer technology so that anyone can drive and handle them. We decided not to go down that road.”

    I saw the black car in the local motor show some months ago, there was a crowd around it. Looked good.

    A nice touch when it’s unveiled would be painting it like Takumi’s Panda Trueno, similar wheels a bonus.

  • avatar
    rmwill

    Subaru motor. Ugh.

  • avatar
    John R

    If a person with an average height of 6″ can fit comfortably, it makes at least 175-180hp, and the visibility all around is good (looking at you 370Z) this just might work. It could play Cayman to the MX-5′s Boxster.

    As far as cost goes, they should keep a close eye on how well the Veloster is received as I suspect that the high end MSRP for the Hyundai is right where Toyota wants to be – $20-$25k.

    That said, I can’t wait to see STI motor swaps on Youtube.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Bertel….thank you…as fine a piece of automotive writing as I have ever read. Truly, you understand that to grasp the essence of the creation, you must grasp the essence of the creator….and the Japanese are so very soulful about their engineering. Having lived within the culture, you grasped that and you were able to relate to the artist in a way that allowed him to let down his eight-fold fence and share with you his approach to his art, with humility and grace. These are the pieces for which I read TTAC and no other automotive blog….any other site can quote specs and bitch about glitches…..only at TTAC do we get a glimpse into the heart and mind of the people who care so deeply about cars as art, cars as a part of the human equation….thanks. You are TTACS Yin to Baruth’s Yang….TTAC would be the less if either of you left, but it will be the more as each of you learn from the other….

  • avatar
    segfault

    Engineers get offended when owners buy a different *tire* to replace the low rolling resistance junk that has no grip that’s installed on many cars? Look at the Tire Rack ratings for any of the OE tires on the Civic. They’re all terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Maybe it should be “Engineers of enthusiast cars get offended…”

      The Honda Civic Si has the option for summer tires — Michelin Pilot Exaltos PE2 I believe.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Yeah, this car better have some serious tires or else what he said is just B.S. to cover their compromises. How can you blame an owner for wanting better ultimate grip than the junk that comes on almost every non-supercar?

  • avatar
    Boff

    I just love the looks and concept of this little car. Funny about all the RX-8 references…this could be a replacement for my beloved but aging RX-8. But the magic of the RX-8 is in the driving experience; if they have emulated that car’s telepathic responses (and autocross chops), then we could talk.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I see the biggest battle the FT-86 has to fight is its brand. It should wear a Toyota logo and it should be called a Celica. I think the average mouth breathing car buyer (you know, the 98% of America that doesn’t read TTAC or any other auto mag) is going to be flat out confused by a tC and FT-86 sitting side by side and won’t get a discussion on chassis dynamics, FWD vs. RWD, and the average sales drone certainly isn’t equipped to have that conversation either.

    If the FT-86 flops (assuming it is priced competitively) the failure rests on Toyota branding and marketing – and the decision to make it a Scion and sell it side by side against the tC.

    Given the Subaru version won’t come in AWD – I see the Subbie flavored version of this practically DoA.

    • 0 avatar
      SKUSA_boy

      Why should it be called a Celica when the last generation Celica was a complete joke? It was driven by high school girls. An Integra Type R of the same time would absolutely obliterate it.

      Actually the Celica became a joke in 1986 when the Celica Supra was dropped and the Supra became a separate model.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Thats kind of harsh, the last gen Celica was a fun handler for a FWD car, the GTS engine was a joy to rev, and it definitely was way more fun to drive than the Scion Tc. Now I will concede it wasnt like the old-school RWD Celicas, and it was no Celica All-Trac, but there is still value in the Toyota “sports cars”… people old enough to afford this car still remember when Toyota made cars you wanted to drive: MR2, Supra, Celica, Corolla GTS (AE86). Scion is a marketing gimic, invented to appeal to kids who care more about iPods than cars and who cant afford them anyway. Toyota should let Scion die like it should have done in the first place, and try to get back a little of that magic that made Toyotas popular in the first place.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    If it comes out as a Scion, then *please* use sticky tape, not thru-holes, to attach the badging! Toyota needs to lose the old/boring label, and the FT-86 will help a lot with that, whether or not it makes money by itself.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    I can already see that Toyota is going to fall into the enthusiast trap with this car by focusing too heavily on the AE86 connection. True, the AE86 has a large cult following of drift fanboys and people who watched too much Initial D, but what they have most in common is the fact that they are almost universally poor (just like 240SX owners today). You cannot project a market for a brand new car based on a bunch of forum posts by buyers of 25 year old compacts who “would totally buy a new AE86 successor.” And when the Koreans will sell you a more powerful 2+2 for less, or the domestics offer you a slew of 300+ horsepower pony cars that will probably get nearly equal gas mileage when all is said and done, where is the market for this car amongst people who actually have money and aren’t just internet brand zombies? Then again, I could be wrong and there might be a phantom market out there that I just don’t see, but as of right now I’m sticking to my position.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      This reminds me of a point that Jack raised before (or was it Steven, I’m not really sure who it was) that many so-called ‘enthusiasts’ (especially the basement ‘internet brand zombie’ types) tend to buy their enthusiast-cars ‘used’ (i.e., more affordable) rather than new. If true, then designing a new car based on feedback from a ‘used-car-buying’ demographic may not be such a good idea.

      Still, based on what the chief engineer said about the car, I hope it does find an audience, especially if it is indeed worthy of one.

    • 0 avatar
      Tifighter

      Good observation. I’ve always thought the biggest problem with the CR-Z is that Honda didn’t name it the Insight Sport. That would have solved a lot of problems…

  • avatar
    carve

    I’m a little concerned about the constant downplaying of power. These days, most family sedans with the optional engine can do 0-60 in the 6 second range; I’d expect this to be in the 5′s with an optional engine. If they really want to attract a following, it should be an under-stressed turbo…maybe even have a factory meth system.

    Also, when I hear the cost should be more like that of sports equipment, I’m thinking something in the teens.

    What I’d really like to see here is an affordable Elise.

    • 0 avatar
      Buzz Killington

      more power = more weight and more cost. i’m concerned about the public’s constant fixation on 0-60 times and insistence that an simple, light and inexpensive sports car needs to be as fast as a 911 was 15 years ago.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    My guess is low-to-mid $20s. No DSG means it won’t be priced for the middle-aged-dentist market. Ricers will order the stick and Sporty Spice sorority gals will opt for the slushbox. I don’t see high 20s/low 30s because Subaru won’t want its version cannibalizing the WRX. If the Subaru version is RWD and the Toyota version is going to be sold through Scion dealers, I might go Subaru; all of my car purchases are “no-haggle,” but I prefer to be the one setting the no-haggle price.

    If it’s more tossable than a Mustang V6, and it very well may be if it’s lighter and has double wishbone in the back, it could be a very attractive option. I’ll take mine with a moonroof, 6MT and nothing else.

  • avatar
    timlange

    I’m surprised no one compared it to the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky. After reading this my first thought was Toyota does the Pontiac Solstice coupe. In other words Bob Lutz HAS already done this.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      The Solstice/Sky was only a 2-seater, heavier, and significantly less practical (well, assuming Toyota does make this a 2+2 with typical Japanese clever storage nooks and stuff). They weren’t bad cars at all, just a 2-seat car with a mail slot trunk and no glove box simply cannot be used every day. Plus, except for the lame duck coupe that was nearly impossible to find, they were roadsters only, which also limits the appeal.

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    Great article, Bertel. And I’m really glad to see Toyota back in the business of producing a car that is at least interesting.

    This car likely won’t do a huge volume, but Toyota benefited greatly from selling those Celicas, Supras and MR2s. They kept Toyota from being strictly a soccer mom and old person’s brand, like they’re in danger of becoming at the moment. It’s great to see them back in this segment.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think Toyota is well past the point of being in danger of becoming a soccer mom and retiree brand.It feels like an eternity since those cars were in production.

      They are probably selling the FT86 as a Scion in the US because the Toyota brand would bring the car down, rather than the car changing Toyota’s brand image.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Uh, no the car would HELP Toyota’s image. But the morons insist on cutting off their own hand in order to save precious little Scion, which enthusiasts have rightfully laughed at with their stupid xBoxs and xDuds. This car should have Toyota badges on it and be called Celica. There is absolutely no reason at all to brand this as a Scion, while the Toyota brand continues to have absolutely NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING..Did I say NOTHING?..to appeal to younger buyers. Oh yeah, that Corolla S is sooo hot! Not. Celica badges on this car would easily outsell any Scion with some stupid alpha-numeric trash name that Toyota’s idiotic marketing department can come up with. It frustrates me to no end, because I really really want to like this car and maybe even eventually buy one, but I will not touch one with the Scion badges and I am putting my money where my mouth is.

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    Ok, point #1, excellent article Bertel. I will freely admit I started reading TTAC because of a reference to Jack Baruth on another site, but now this is by far the first site I go to for the car world.
    Point #2, after reading all the responses to this article, I’m rather surprised noone considered the fact that the “team” designing this car had possibly engineers from the WRX/Rally team, plus the Lexus LFA team, and the full parts bin from those designs. The major engineering was already done, the rest just needed to be tweaked, and tweaking is generally less costly and complex than the original engineering. Maybe my hopes are set to high, but it is in the realm of real world possibility.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Great article and I look forward to its debut next year. A question… why in the Hell would they market the car in the U.S. as a Scion??? don’t get that at all.

    And my wait for a reasonably priced, mid-engined, targa-topped, light-weight car with the engineering brilliance of Fiat’s X1/9 continueszzz… perhaps Suzuki or Kia will one day answer my prayers?

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    My wife wants one of these to replace her MR2 Spyder (no, not going to get rid of the Spyder, keeping it and adding a new car for her), so we have been watching it closely. She had a Celica and LOVED it, this car will be very much like the Celica but with rear-drive, which is always a good thing. I think of it as a hardtop 2+2 Miata, and I think that will help it sell. There are many people who would love a Miata but need a little extra practicality… even tiny rear seats help when you have kids but like sports cars. But I do agree that the Scion branding is going to hurt, I dont think most people take Scion seriously. I wish they would reconsider and resurrect the Celica brand.

  • avatar

    “…just contract production…” I am sure that a few folks over at Fuji Heavy are bristling at that one.

    My bet is that Toyota will make the vanilla version and Subaru will make…the new STi. They have already indicated that the next STi, 2013 will not be a tuned Impreza but something else.

    Can’t wait!

    • 0 avatar
      Loscaldazar

      The Subaru version is supposed to have more hp than the toyota version, but it won’t be the car that replaces the Impreza WRX STi. That car is being built from the ground up that will use several features of the toyaburu. But it will be AWD, 300-500 pounds lighter, 1.6L twin charged (supercharger and turbocharger) making the traditional 305hp and a much smaller wheel base for tighter cornering, and a few other things.. look up motor trends leak on the 2014 WRX :)

      • 0 avatar

        I cannot imagine that Subaru (I am on my 5th) move enough product – globally or have the resources – to have an FT-86 variant AND a “Rex” + STi.

        Max HP for a WRC car is 300, so there goes the 305 out the door. I am not sure about twin charging. I didn’t note anything about it in the rules (http://www.fia.com/en-GB/sport/regulations/Pages/FIARallyChampionships.aspx).

        Finally, it’s Motor Trend: not the most reliable of rags.

        I hope all this doesn’t mean that there won’t be a 5-door, turbocharged Impreza. I need the performance – and the room!

        Here’s to hoping.

      • 0 avatar
        Loscaldazar

        I am talking about the production spec of the vehicle (and the US STI currently has 305 hp, 290 ft-lbs), however the twin charger likely will carry over. And the source of the motor trend article was a source with FHI/Subaru.

        There is no way that the FT-86 (named BRZ prologue for Subie) can be AWD so it will not be Subaru’s rally car. The engine is too far back in the car to use Symmetrical AWD on it, and the means having to restructure the entire car to make it AWD which at that point it would be easier to build a new car.

        Subaru has been rapidly increasing in Sales both world wide and in the US (fastest growing car manufacture). There goal is by 2020 to be the number 1 name in safe performance by selling 1 million unit annually-they are almost half way there already. It will be very likely that there will 2, but the “new WRX” may be a few years to wait (2014).
        http://www.motortrend.com/future/future_vehicles/1107_subaru_wrx_to_go_its_own_way/

        Glad to see another Subaru Nut :)

      • 0 avatar
        Loscaldazar

        Oh and the new 2012 impreza is in no way designed for rally (although the base 2.0i’s handling has been made on par with the mazada 3). Instead the Impreza line up is looking to be the low in price/economical car for subaru. They have increased the Wheel base for it and made it less powerful for the base and the 2012 WRX/STI are still going to be based off the previous generation impreza.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    Great read.

    I doubt someone who didn’t know the culture as well would have gotten nearly as far.

    Just curious, in what language did you conduct the interview?

  • avatar
    kelman81

    I hope Toyota nails this. Being a past and current MR2 owner, I like many have been waiting for Toyota to shift some of their focus back to interesting sports cars like they did in the late 80s and early 90s. If the FT-86 comes in a little heavier, pricier, and softer than expected, it would then be a likely competitor to the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Else if they are good on their promises, there will be nothing else like it out there.

  • avatar

    I’m really looking forward to this car, I hope it’s as good as it can be. Not crazy about Toyota lately, though, but I’m hoping they can turn that around here. It *could* be awesome. Please let it be.

  • avatar
    fli317

    Don’t understand the Scion branding for this car. I am curious about the boxer motor however. Should be a fun drive. Currently drive an s13 and would hope this propels Nissan to get back into this game. I’d buy the Subaru. No way on the Scion. Toyota should stick with their guns on this one. The differences between this car and the tC would be totally lost on the vast majority of Scion customers.

    • 0 avatar
      FatherDeth13

      I have to agree. To me, when I think of Scion, I think of juvenile delinquents who have no business behind the wheel of a car. At least where I’m at, all the Scions are plastered with decals and seem like they are nothing but toys. I think this should have been a Toyota as to keep up with the “seriousness” involved with automobiles. I guess what I’m getting at is, its okay to have your little juvie car company, but for people with real knowledge and aspects of automobiles, this could be a serious contender. Not so much now. They’ve played it down to a toy.

  • avatar
    Cargeezer

    I had hoped and sort of expected that it was going to be a roadster, like the “real” sports cars we drove in the 1950s and 60s. Guess Mazda has already done that.


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