By on May 10, 2010

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.

According to RT’s source,

This car will measure about 150 in. overall length and come powered by the company’s 3SZ-VE engine, a 1.5-liter inline-4 that produces 109 bhp. It will feature a front-engine/rear drive layout.

Motor Trend adds that this new baby coupe is being developed as

a two-door version of the Gazoo Racing inspired rear-wheel drive GRMN (GRMN = Gazoo Racing Meister of Nurburgring) hot hatch concept unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon. Our insider tells us that this concept, destined for a late 2012 debut, is based on the European-spec Aygo’s platform, but modified to rear drive… engineers are shaving as many pounds as possible off the new coupe, with an end goal of approximately 2200 pounds

That weight goal is nearly 500 lbs less than the Honda CR-Z (with manual transmission), highlighting the fact that Honda should probably have just built a sporty non-hybrid coupe on its Fit/Jazz platform. It’s also on target to match the predicted weight of the next-generation Mazda MX-5.

Interestingly, that (GRMN) concept was shown along with a Gazoo-tuned version of the FT-86 as well as one other concept, a mid-engined MR-2-based roadster with a 392 hp V6 hybrid drivetrain derived from the Highlander Hybrid. With news that the FT-86 is moving up in price, and a smaller Miata-fighting lightweight coupe is under development, one has to wonder if Toyota is moving hard to repair its enthusiast credentials and developing a three-car RWD sports line with the 100 hp coupe as an $18k entry, the $25k FT-86 as a mid-point, and a $35k-50k-ish hybrid roadster as the flagship (with the LF-A as a hyper-halo of sorts). Alternatively, Lexus doesn’t have a successor to its SC lined up yet.

Given all of Akio Toyoda’s talk of building cars with “splendid flavor” again, and the anti-enthusiast reputation Toyota has earned in recent years, this three-nameplate attack might just be the image overhaul the company needs. With the FT-86 planned for 2011, and the “Baby FT” scheduled for 2012-ish, there’s plenty of time for Toyota to develop a mid-engined hybrid flagship. If this all pans out, enthusiasts might just forgive Toyota for abandoning enthusiasts by offering nothing more sporty than the Celica over the last several years.

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13 Comments on “Toyota Hints At Cheaper, Lighter “Baby FT-86,” Is A Mid-Engine Hybrid Roadster Next?...”

  • avatar

    Sounds cool, but 2200 lbs with 109 hp doesn’t exactly sound real sporty. Let’s hope that engine has a DI with turbo variant for maybe 140hp.

    • 0 avatar

      2200lbs is plenty sporty; recall that the first-generation Miata weighed only slightly less (2100lbs) and had just a little more (120hp) power.

    • 0 avatar

      @psarhjinian: agreed, but I think the power/weight ratio of the NA miata was right on the edge, and +100 lbs and -7 HP ain’t gonna help that much. Also keep in mind that cars were a hell of a lot slower 20 years ago. So, while fun may not be relative, the lack of pace for a Miata certainly is — it’s dog slow by the standards of even cheap economy cars today.

      Source: me owning a Miata for 20+ years, not feeling obliged to turbo it or anything, but always thinking… “damn, this chassis could certainly handle a few more HPs if I wanted to mod it”

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Those are almost the exact numbers for the US-spec AE86 Corolla GT-S.

    • 0 avatar

      The Toyota Aygo, which the mule is obviously based, weighs a paltry 890 kg (1,962 lb), with a dry weight of 790 kg (1742 lb).

      If this RWD is going to be a hothatch, we should presume the vehicle to be around the Aygo. If they plan on going a MX5 route, it should be much lower in weight.

  • avatar
    John R

    Hm…Where’s the Supra? Oh, well. I guess we should take what we can get.

    “…highlighting the fact that Honda should probably have just built a sporty non-hybrid coupe on its Fit/Jazz platform.”

    You ain’t kiddin’. How hard could it have been to stuff a K20 into a Fit and make it work? Tuners the world over are, or have been, doing it.

  • avatar

    I believe this 1.5L is the old xB engine. My Gen1 xB weighs 2398 lbs (MT), and its performance might be described as ‘peppy’. The target of 2200 lbs will help, but only a little.

    Maybe this new car’s strength will be in its handling?

  • avatar

    Will be interesting to see where this one ends up. Hopefully its more classic Corolla GTS not Paseo.

  • avatar

    Honda could lose me pretty easily with this lineup

  • avatar

    On Gazoo’s site (Gazoo being a subsidiary of Toyota)
    it says:

    “Then we narrowed the ideas down to this one – a 1,500,000 yen FR sports car. When I again asked the guys “do you want to drive that?”, everyone delightedly nodded! That is how we decided to make it.”

    So its more a 1.5million yen (~US$16k) FR car, which is far less then the $20k figure American blogs have been talking about. Also, Sam Mitani obviously took the rendering from Best Car (which he contributes to), and that magazine is saying the car will be 1.6 million.

    Based on the comments by the chief engineer (above link) it seems they plan on reviving a car in the spirit of the RWD KP61 Starlet, not a MX5.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s this thing called a tariff in good ol’ America, so even if it cost $16,000 over there in Japan, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be $16,000 here in USA.

      Thanks for the site though, learned something new ^_^.

    • 0 avatar


      Based on comparative pricing of Japanese vehicle to their US counterparts, regardless of tariffs, they achieve some level of parity.

      For instance, the Prius starts at just over 2 million yen (2,050,000円) which is comparable in equipment to the base Prius in the US. In Japan, that Prius is $21,470, in the US $22,800.

      The reason is quite simple, the automotive market is incredibly competitive, they price it based on the competition, they don’t price it based on exchange rates. Which is why relative exchange rates have such an impact on the bottom line of these companies.

      So, a 1.5 million yen RWD hothatch, I would expect to start at around $15~16k, its very unlikely it’ll be $20k, especially since they seem to be using the Aygo as a basis. Let’s also keep in mind that the Aygo isn’t sold in the Japan, so the fact that they use it as a base is very intentional.

  • avatar

    The engine is likely from a different family. Toyota’s 1.5 liter engine in the Scion and Yaris are actually 2NZs.

    This engine is probably the one used in the shared Daihatsu Xenia platform… and it’s interesting that the dunderheads at Toyota are finally figuring out that they might as well use it in something else. (I’ve complained that they should have used that engine and platform from the beginning). I’ve driven it… it’s a good motor, with a strong midrange, typical of modern engines with electronically controlled ignition, and, surprisingly for a Toyota, a decent upper range, as well.

    That 109 may look measly on paper, but the original Miata had just over a hundred horses (not 120), and the European versions even less (90 or so… 70 at the wheels), so low power isn’t a handicap here. It’s likely that merely adjusting the engine programming and fitting better breathing on the engine will pump it up to 120-130 hp without incurring significant costs.

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