So here’s what’s going to happen… They’ll drive it as hard as they dare, swinging it through corners and stamping on the gas, chucking it into hairpins and willfully trying to unsettle the rear, and all the while traction will be total. And you know what, not one of those drivers will say anything about it, because they’ll be too scared to be the limp-wristed bloke that can’t even drift what they’ve been told is the most driftable car in decades
So says Ben Barry in a recent Careditorial. He’s driven the car, we haven’t, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s correct. Well, so what? What if all that additional dealer profit won’t even get Joe Sixpack (sixpack of Sapporo, of course) sideways? What if the new Toyota can’t deliver the tofu?
TTAC has long been bearish on the Scion brand, and in a lot of ways, Toyota’s global tri-branding strategy with its new “86” sportscar (Toyota, Subaru and Scion versions are being sold) highlights how Toyota has lost its branding focus. On the other hand, the FR-S, Scion’s version of the 86, is by far the most compelling product that brand has offered… well, possibly ever (OK, since the Mk1 xB). If I were king of Toyota, I’d probably still kill off Scion and sell the 86 as a Celica in the US… after all, how much sense does it make to have two sporty coupes at Scion and none for the Toyota brand? But if Scion follows the FR-S up with a new truly compact pickup co-developed with Daihatsu, as has been rumored, I’d be willing to concede that Scion has a place in the market. After all, truly unique, funky vehicles justified Scion’s existence in the first place, before a watered-down second generation of products killed that positioning (and Scion’s sales). With the FR-S, Scion seems to be heading back towards focused and freaky niche confections… let’s hope it continues to return to those roots.
Toyota steadfastly refuses to refer to its upcoming new compact rear-wheel-drive sports car as anything else than a “new compact rear-wheel-drive sports car.” But Toyota sure knows how to whip up more excitement (if that is possible) before the pocket racer will be officially unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show. While websites around the globe publish every scrap of paper or digits they can lay their hands on, Toyota will paint you a picture. (Read More…)
Of course, that’s for a low-spec, manual transmission version, which rides on 16 inch wheels. Top-spec versions with an automatic transmission will weigh as much as 2,755 lbs. Toys for the top-spec version include LED headlights, leather steering wheel, 6 speakers audio and sport pedals… but then, this is all JDM spec anyway. Since the FT-86 will be coming to the US as a Scion, it’s tough to predict how the spec sheet will be structured. Still, the basics are there… and they look tempting (and in line with what the car’s chief engineer has told us). Now we just need to drive the thing!
The autoblogosphere is agog this morning over what appears to be yet another leak of a Toyota JDM catalog, this time of the highly anticipated Toyota FT-86 sports coupe. But is this what Toyota’s lightweight, rear-drive sportscar will actually look like? Not exactly:the image above is clearly labeled as a Modelista version, which means it’s been visually tweaked by Toyota’s in-house tuner. On the other hand, if you pull off the Modelista bits, specifically the front fascia and ground effects kit, you’ll find that this model more closely resembles the FT-86 Concept than the FT-86 II Concept, most notably in its proportions. With a more compact, cab-forward look, these images show a car that shares the first Concept’s basic shape with just a hint of the II Concept’s wild wheel arches and sweeping character lines. That comports with what the FT-86’s chief engineer told TTAC in a recent exclusive interview, when he said the initial Concept was “kind of close” and the II Concept was “not close at all.” Another clue that this is the real thing (or close to it): ft86club shows that the interior appears to be similar to mules that were caught testing.
Finally, there’s one key issue with this FT-86 image leak that must be considered: when this car comes stateside, it will be as a Scion FR-S, not a Toyota. Which means it could well be visually tweaked even further for our market, as it transitions to Toyota’s youth brand. In any case, the mystery won’t last long: TTAC’s Bertel Schmitt will be on hand for the FT-86 (and Subaru BRZ) reveal at the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show. Until then, speculate away!
SB Medien may call the forthcoming FT-86 a “Celica replacement,” but in this first video of the latest near-production prototype, the budget rear-drive coupe nearly runs into a Supra which apparently belongs to the development team. The Supra shows up once more in the video’s ‘ring testing footage (about 1:55 in), suggesting again that it’s somehow involved in the testing or benchmarking process. How and why? Your speculation is as good as mine…
The joint Subaru-Toyota “FT-86” has been hyped for some time now as a modern-day AE86, a car with which Akio Toyoda hopes to recapture the “splendid flavor” of driving excitement that has been missing from Toyotas for some time. An affordable halo, in other words, which reconnects Toyota to the youthful enthusiasm of young men in search of rear-drive antics. And since it’s facing an aging demographic, that’s not a bad idea for the Toyota brand. Unfortunately, the latest look at the Toyobaru’s evolving styling is being shown in New York as a Scion, the brand that exists to prove that the Toyota brand can’t be youthful and exciting (and which just got a new sportscoupe).
I’ve been on the record as a Scion-basher for some time, so I won’t beat a dead horse here… but if the FT-86 is supposed to be a halo for Toyota, it can’t just be shuffled off to the Scion ghetto. The car will probably sell regardless of the badge it ends up wearing, but the Toyota brand needs this enthusiasm investment, and Scion just needs to die.
Toyota will supply small Subarus to Fuji Heavy, so that Fuji Heavy and Subaru can focus on midsize cars. According to information developed by The Nikkei [sub], “Toyota and Fuji Heavy intend to release a jointly developed sports car under their respective brands as early as the end of 2011.” If the Nikkei has its stuff together, then we might finally see the often delayed FT-86 next year. As a Toyota and a Subaru. (Read More…)
Car & Driver voted Toyota’s FT-86 as one of the 25 cars worth waiting for. It seems like the wait will be a little longer than anticipated. Toyota had shown their sports car concept at many motor shows, from Tokyo to Beijing (but not in New York.) Of course, this was read as an imminent launch of the little brute. 2011 model year, hopefully. Mid 2011, maybe. Wrong. Not even close. (Read More…)
With rumors coming in that Toyota is repositioning its planned FT-86 “Toyobaru” sports coupe to reflect higher price and higher buyer age targets, word around the enthusiast fring of the autoblogosphere has been downright apocalyptic. After all, the promised combination of a $20k base price, manual transmission and rear-wheel-drive were what launched the FT-86 to internet notoriety. But development overruns are a fact of life, and Toyota says it has no choice but to bump the FT-86’s projected price point to $23k base, $26k loaded-level. So while the FT-86 faces the bloat that comes with a more upmarket target, another sports coupe aimed at undercutting the FT-86’s prices by about $5k is already under development according to Road & Track.
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.
Oh how quickly things change! Just weeks ago, if you’d asked the average well-informed consumer what Toyota needed to change with its strategy, you’d have been treated to a treatise on how Toyota’s quest for quality and mass-market appeal had reduced its brand to signifying snooze-inducing appliances. Indeed, Toyota’s new CEO has emphasized enthusiasm as an area for improvement, waxing eloquent about the “splendid flavor” of the sporty vehicles Toyota doesn’t offer. Accordingly, Toyota is launching a sporting sub-brand àlá BMW’s “M” or Volkswagen’s new “R” line of high-performance vehicles according to Inside Line. Thanks to Toyota’s descent into recall hell however, boosting the brand’s sporty credentials is suddenly of highly debatable utility.
“Scion is pretty much a North American brand, so that is why it is very natural to think more development, more design work, should be done in North America,” Yoshi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America tells Automotive News [sub]. In other words, fans of Scion’s first generation of JDM confections who railed against second-gen bloat are probably out of luck. Sure, model four in the Scion lineup will be the iQ minicar, which is small and weird enough to have been a member of the Scion invasion team, but after that? It’s all bloat and bigger blind spots from here on out. It’s what America wants.