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Geneva show: Toyota lops 86 top

Hot topic: While the Toyota 86 Open Concept is nominally a concept, the company is already testing prototypes.

Convertible version of Toyota 86 revealed in concept guise ahead of Geneva show

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Toyota logo1 Mar 2013

THE hotly anticipated Toyota 86 Open Concept cabriolet has broken cover ahead of its global public reveal at the Geneva motor show on March 5.

Toyota revealed a single teaser sketch of the vehicle exactly one month ago, confirming the automotive industry’s worst-kept secret – that it would peel the top from its massively popular 86 coupe and in doing so fire a shot across the bow of Mazda and its aging MX-5.

As expected, the 86 convertible features an electrically operated fabric roof to keep the weight down, “allowing a feeling of oneness with nature while maintaining the joy and sense of oneness” with the coupe.

Technically, the rear-drive cabriolet remains a concept model pending customer feedback, but Toyota has admitted it is already testing prototypes.

The convertible reveal is timely, with sales of the base coupe variant slowing in Japan. Should it – as expected – enter production this year, it could re-ignite the range and return interest levels to where they were last year.

The reveal of the long-expected convertible comes more than three years after the original compact coupe concept that birthed the 86 at the 2009 Tokyo motor show.

The show-car has been given the requisite razzle-dazzle with a colour co-ordinated exterior and interior masterminded by a “Milan-based designer”.

Outside, the car is finished in creamy white paint with silver and black 10-spoke alloy wheels, while the cabin gets matching white seats and dash panels with gold stitching.

Mechanical details are being kept a secret, but the lightweight rear-drive coupe versions are powered by a 147kW/205Nm 2.0-litre Boxer engine matched to six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

The 86 was developed in collaboration with Subaru, which markets its own mechanically similar version of the compact rear-drive coupe as the BRZ.

We reported in November 2011 that the BRZ/86 was capable of being produced as an open-top, with its body structure designed to handle the loss of rigidity associated with removing the roof, plus frameless windows which are necessary for a convertible.

A Subaru product planning chief responsible for the BRZ told GoAuto in Japan: “Everyone who sees this coupe wants a convertible. If demand is enough, they can have it.”

Considering the coupe starts in Australia from $29,990 plus on-road costs, it would be reasonable to expect any production cabriolet version that comes here to launch as low as the mid-30s, undercutting the MX-5 by around $10,000.

The 86 coupe has been a sell-out success in Australia since its launch in June 2012, with the waiting list of high-spec GTS variants swiftly blowing out to 18 months.

Should the convertible 86 (and possibly a BRZ derivative) make production, the likely next step is the introduction of forced induction. GoAuto understands a compact supercharger is more likely than a more common turbocharger, with space under the curvaceous bonnet at a premium.

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