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AIMS: Toyota boxer coupe launch back on track

Sports future: Toyota will display the FT-86 II concept at this year's AIMS.

Mid-2012 launch tipped for much-anticipated rear-drive Toyota sports coupe

27 Jun 2011

TOYOTA today confirmed a mid-2012 touchdown date for its new rear-drive sports coupe in Australia, shrugging off recent fears that production of the boxer sports thoroughbred for this country might be delayed by the Japanese earthquake disaster.

Previewing the FT-86 II concept for the new-generation sports car ahead of its local debut at the Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne this Friday, Toyota said the production version was now expected to arrive in Australia early in the second half of next year, delivering on the company’s promise to restore “the intrinsic fun of motoring”.

Last month, Toyota announced the green light for Australian sales from next year of the boxer-engined coupe – developed in conjunction with Subaru, which will have its own version – but, because of lingering production delays at Toyota factories due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, it was feared that production of the first batch of cars for Australia might blow out, perhaps even until 2013.

The Toyota FT-86 II – the second draft of the coupe concept that first appeared at the 2009 Tokyo motor show – will be one of five Australian premieres by Toyota at the Melbourne show.

8 center imageFrom top: Toyota FT-86, Toyota Yaris, Toyota HiLux 'Vigo', Toyota Prius C, Toyota Prius V.

Others include two new Prius hybrid variants, the Prius C and Prius V, the all-new Yaris light car and a revised Toyota HiLux.

But the ‘Subarota’ is likely to draw the biggest crowds, keen to get a first look at the lightweight liftback coupe that promises to restore affordable sports motoring to the Toyota range.

Although target prices are yet to be confirmed, Toyota Australia public affairs manager Mike Breen told GoAuto at the Geneva motor show that he hoped the car could be priced “in the early $30,000s”.

The first rear-drive car from Toyota since the demise of the MR-2, the coupe – which is yet to be formally named – will be powered by a normally aspirated 2.0-litre boxer engine from Subaru but using Toyota’s D-4S fuel delivery system of direct injection combined with port injection.

The engine will be mated to a choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, with Toyota promising “quick and precise shifts” from the manual and “sporty shifts” from the automatic, which will include steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Toyota says the concept pays homage to Toyota’s illustrious sports-car history that includes cars such as the Supra, MR2 and 2000GT.

“The concept makes it clear that Toyota’s new compact sports car will have the style, performance and handling demanded by those who regard driving as fun rather than a necessity,” Toyota Australia said in its pre-show media release.

Two new hybrid models from the Prius family will be shown in Melbourne as Toyota evaluates them for the Australia, where it plans to launch two new hybrid vehicles in the next year.

The Prius C – “C for city” – and Prius V –“V for versatility” – were both originally revealed at the 2011 Detroit motor show, with the five-seat “V” locked in for the US and Japanese markets.

The roomy Prius V is aimed at families, with a cargo area not only bigger than that of the standard Prius hatchback but also some compact SUVs. A seven-seat version, the Prius+, is being launched in Europe and Japan, and might be considered for Australia.

The Prius V’s powertrain is the same as the standard Prius, with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive.

The Prius C is described as a “city-friendly car” aimed at young singles and couples.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing David Buttner said today that, with fuel prices rising and a growing emphasis on reducing carbon emissions, it was “the perfect time to be raising a family”.

“We are keen to get the reactions of consumers to these concept cars with a view to launching the production models next year,” he said.

A pre-production Yaris is set to be shown at the Melbourne show, showing an edgier new look and larger proportions that free up 35mm of extra rear legroom.

The new-generation Yaris light car is expected to be launched in Australia in the final quarter of this year in three- and five-door hatch guises.

An evolution of the current design, the Yaris is said to have gained a “more expressive, Euro-inspired attitude”.

Lighter and more aerodynamic than the current generation, the new Yaris features a single windscreen wiper with an integrated water nozzle, auto headlights, tighter turning circle and – in Japan at least – idle-stop fuel saving technology on 1.3-litre petrol engines.

Toyota has ruled out the hybrid version that debuted at this year’s Geneva motor show, but the sedan variant is likely to arrive next year.

The one-time Toyota light car leader originally was due to be replaced about September, but that launch date has blown out a month or two due to the crippling production problems in Japan.

The new Yaris will go head to head at the show with the new Holden Barina and Kia Rio light cars.

Another model that will come up against stiff opposition at the show is the revised version of the top-selling Toyota HiLux, which will compete for attention with the new Holden Colorado, Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50.

The facelifted HiLux, to be launched in September, will get some bodywork changes and technical upgrades, including ESC across the range and side and curtain airbags on 4x4 models.

The engines are expected to continue unchanged.

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