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Tokyo show: Toyota’s 86 cabrio on right path

Hands up: Australia is pushing for the production version of the 86 sports roadster to be built, although the business case depends on economic conditions.

Toyota 86 roadster concept appears in RHD in Tokyo amid cavalcade of concepts


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20 Nov 2013

A PRODUCTION version of Toyota’s 86 convertible and an Australian market introduction is drawing closer with the unveiling today of a right-hand-drive version of its FT-86 Open concept, as part of the Japanese auto giant’s Tokyo motor show menagerie.

While a market-ready open-top sportscar is still to appear, a right-hook version of the concept that premiered at the Geneva motor show in March is clearly the next best thing, showing Toyota’s ongoing commitment to the cause and raising Australian hopes for a rival for the likes of the Mazda MX-5 and Nissan 370Z Roadster.

Toyota Australia’s executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the Australian subsidiary would be among the first with its hand up to take the 86 convertible, should it go into production.

“Australia is the third-biggest market in the world for the 86 coupe, so we would be very interested in a convertible model were it to become available,” he said.

“While reaction to the concept cars has been outstanding, our parent company is carefully assessing the business case which is highly dependent on economic conditions in each region.

“A convertible would add another dimension to the driving pleasure derived from the 86 platform. We’ve certainly got our fingers crossed!” The show car is finished in ‘flash red’, differentiating itself from the white Geneva concept that featured a contrasting blue interior.

Other highlights of the car on display in Tokyo today include 19-inch wheels and an electrically operated cloth roof, while the cabin features newly designed front sports seats, grey interior with red carpet and leather in the door trims and instrument panel.

Looking further into the future is Toyota’s FV2 concept – which stands for Fun Vehicle 2 – a personal mobility vehicle that the car-maker predicts could be on the streets around the year 2030.

The driver-only FV2 is designed for ‘digital natives’ – people born from the 1990s on that have had access to mobile phones, tablets and the internet since birth.

Connectivity is the theme of the FV2, with voice and image recognition technology that can read the driver’s mood and respond accordingly to their physical condition and emotional state.

The unique FV2 uses a display system to communicate with pedestrians and nearby motorists and it adapts to the driver’s skill level, suggesting destinations based on previous history.

The vehicle is operated in a similar fashion to someone skiing or operating a motorbike, with the driver shifting their body weight to operate it, removing the need for a steering wheel and pedals.

Designed by Toyota’s Calty Design Research studio in California, the pod-like four-wheel FV2 uses an augmented reality display on the windscreen that supplements sensory information from the cabin with computer generated data.

Toyota has not confirmed a power supply for the FV2, suggesting instead that “society will ultimately determine which environmental technologies become mainstream”.

While a production version of a vehicle such as this appears a long way off, Toyota says the FV2 proposes “a form of personal mobility that will serve a major role in the company’s vision for the future of mobility”.

Other premieres on the Toyota stand today included two concepts based on the Japanese market Aqua – known in Australia as the Prius C hatch – the Aqua Cross crossover and the Aqua Air convertible.

Both vehicles are powered by a 54kW/111Nm 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine combined with an electric motor that boosts total output to 74kW. This is the same hybrid powertrain as in the current Prius C that produces fuel economy of 2.8 litre per 100 kilometres.

The Aqua is the top-selling passenger car in Japan so far this year and while Toyota is yet to confirm whether the drop-top or jacked-up versions will make it into production, it is a sure bet the company will want to maximise sales of its most popular domestic model by increasing the variants.

Toyota also used its home show to reveal the Noah and Voxy concepts, a pair of tall-boy minivans destined for the Japanese domestic market.

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