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Future models - Toyota - 86 - convertible

Geneva show: Drop-top Subaru BRZ on cards

Options Open: Toyota is yet to decide whether it will put the FT-86 Open Concept into production but it is an odds-on favourite for a swift showroom arrival.

No barrier to Subaru version of Toyota FT-86 Open Concept but production unconfirmed

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Toyota logo6 Mar 2013

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

TOYOTA may have taken the glory by unveiling an apparently production-ready convertible version of the 86 sports coupe at the Geneva motor show today, but there is nothing stopping Subaru from doing the same.

President and CEO of Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, told GoAuto the convertible concept was developed by Toyota but that Subaru would not have to ask Toyota’s permission to produce its own version.

“We could just do it if we decided to,” he said, a view echoed by Toyota’s chief engineer on the 86/BRZ project, Tetsuya Tada.

“It is the same vehicle so if they want to (Subaru) can make it if they want to,” Mr Tada told GoAuto – but stopped short of confirming the car will reach production.

He explained that production of the convertible 86 would depend on market demand following the concept’s unveiling.

Mr Tada would not be specific about the weight gain or changes to body rigidity as a result of removing the metal roof and adding a folding fabric one but reconfirmed that the coupe had been designed from the outset with a convertible version in mind.

“We designed this car from the ground up to have the open top in the first place so the weight increase would not be as much as you might expect,” he said.

“I think the body rigidity should be fine because what we have done with the coupe is a design in which the stresses are not in the roof so if you take the roof off it has less effect on rigidity.”

Mr Tada explained that the exact weight increase depended on how Toyota decided the convertible should handle.

“What you’d expect from this car is that you would want the same handling performance and driving taste as the coupe but I don’t think that’s right, you want something separate,” he said.

“When driving a convertible you want a different taste to driving the coupe, so we are investigating many different ways to decide what the handling taste is appropriate for this car and that will decide what weight increase there will be for this car.”

Mr Tada said the convertible would not not necessarily be less sporty, but that his team was looking into what people are looking for with this car.

While Toyota had the crowd-pleasing convertible 86 concept, Subaru looked further ahead with the diesel-electric plug-in hybrid Viziv crossover concept.

Mr Yoshinaga denied the concept’s hybrid all-wheel drive system that uses twin independent motors to drive the rear wheels was similar to petrol-electric drivetrain rumoured for the next-generation WRX.

He also declined to confirm whether the WRX rumours were true.

The Vziv’s drivetrain has clever features that could easily be adapted to make a sharp-handling sports model.

Its independent rear motors help steering by giving the drivetrain a rear bias during cornering, with the left and right motors increasing or decreasing output depending on steering wheel angle, helping to turn the vehicle while maximising traction.

Asked if concept’s jacked-up, hatchback-like shape previews next XV, Mr Yoshinaga said it was purely a concept showing the company’s future vision for this sort of car.

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