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 Car editorial. 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?
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 sports coupe).
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.
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.
Autocar is reporting that Kia has its ever-eager eyes on the affordable RWD sporty coupe market. It’s 2008 Kee coupe concept could borrow the Genesis coupe’s RWD platform when it eventually makes its appearance.
In an exclusive interview Kia design director Peter Schreyer told Autocar that the Kee wasn’t in the European product plan for the next two years, but also confirmed that he is very keen to bring added strength and desirability to the Kia brand with such a car.
Sounds keen. Details follow: (Read More…)