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Geneva show: Toyota touts its new boxer coupe

Tweaked Toyota: MkII FT-86 concept features a higher bonnet line, more aggressive headlights and front bumper, LED daytime running lights, new alloys and a rear spoiler.

Toyota’s rear-drive boxer coupe shapes up as FT-86 II concept hits Geneva

1 Mar 2011

TOYOTA has used today’s Geneva motor show opening to lift the lid on a completely new, more radical version of its upcoming rear-drive coupe, which has now also been confirmed to go on sale in Europe next year.

Dubbed the FT-86 II and claimed to provide “the clearest indication yet of the final design of Toyota’s next sports car”, the latest version of the joint-venture sportscar the world’s largest car-maker has co-developed with Subaru is significantly more aggressive than the original FT-86 show car revealed at the 2009 Tokyo motor show.

No, the FT-86 II concept doesn’t front with the fierce air-intakes that appeared on the sides and bonnet of the wild FT-86 G Sports Concept that emerged at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January, before being wheeled out again at last October’s Sydney motor show.

Nor does the latest incarnation of the four-seater FT-86, a teaser image of which was released in January, feature the menacingly low-slung bonnet line of the 18-month-old original - presumably due to tighter new European pedestrian impact regulations.

However, the latest FT-86 concept still winds up the aggression meter on the first FT-86 by a considerable margin by featuring an edgier new bodyshell that retains the long-bonnet, rear-set cabin proportions of its predecessor but adds several new, more angular design elements.

Styled by Toyota’s European Design Development centre, ED2, under the working title of “Functional Beauty”, the FT-86 II scores more prominent front wheel-arches, BMW M3-style front quarter vents with a chrome centre strip, a V-shaped roof graphic and a rising window line with sharper C-pillar treatment.

The FT-86 II’s far more in-your-face LFA-style front-end features a huge new front air-dam surrounded by a carbon-look feature that extends F1-style across the full width of the car, angrier Xenon headlights that now comprise a triangular lower edge and a pair of curved LED daytime running light strips that intersect the central air-intake.

8 center imageLeft, from top: 2011 Toyota FT-86 II concept, 2009 FT-86 concept, 2010 FT-86G concept, 2011 Subaru Boxer Sports Car Architecture.At the side there are more angular new door mirrors and sharp, protruding side skirts to match the carbon-look frontal feature, while the FT-86’s vastly chunkier rear-end is dominated by a massive carbon-look rear diffuser panel punctuated by three central fins and a huge chromed exhaust outlet on either side.

There’s also now a subtle but complex fixed rear wing, LED-look clear-lens headlights that echo the boomerang shape of the headlights, more complex alloy wheels with a contrasting double five-spoke design and flush-fitting door-handles.

Toyota has confirmed the compact FT-86 II coupe rides on a 2570mm wheelbase (35mm shorter than the Subaru Impreza’s) and measures 4235mm long, 1795mm wide and just 1270mm high.

There are no interior images and no other technical details were provided, but Toyota says it adapted aerodynamics for the FT-86 II, which it describes as a “driver-focused concept designed to capture the joy of driving”, from F1 technology.

“The FT-86 II is an entirely driver-oriented concept - designed to give form to the intrinsic joy of driving through precise, instantaneous responses to even the smallest throttle or steering input - for those who regard driving as a passion rather than a necessity,” said Toyota.

The company says the FT-86’s front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration will deliver “lively, accessible performance, highly engaging, readily-exploitable dynamic abilities and maximum driving pleasure”.

It also claims the car “returns to Toyota’s sporting roots by combining a free-revving boxer petrol engine and a six-speed manual transmission with compact dimensions, light weight and a low centre of gravity for the best possible power-to-weight ratio”.

Like the original FT-86, the FT-86 II concept is believed to be powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre horizontally opposed petrol engine from Subaru with direct-injection technology from Toyota.

However, there are conflicting reports as to whether the production version will run a 149kW naturally aspirated version of Subaru’s newest third-generation boxer four, a turbocharged 2.5-litre version delivering an Impreza WRX STI-like 220kW, or both.

For its part, Subaru fronted at Geneva with its ‘Boxer Sports Car Architecture’ concept, which exposed the jointly-developed coupe’s chassis, engine and suspension package beneath a transparent acrylic skin that provides vital clue to what Subaru’s version of the car – which has been dubbed both the ‘Toyobaru’ and ‘Subarota’ – will look like.

Just as significantly, apart from revealing its 2+2 ‘Boxer’ sports coupe will be 348mm shorter and 25mm narrower than the Impreza WRX sedan, Subaru confirmed its version of the FT-86 will enter production in the second quarter of 2012.

Production of Toyota’s born-again Celica had been expected to commence late this year at the same Subaru factory and now Toyota has confirmed it will go on sale in Europe – and likely the US as a 2013 model - in 2012.

Neither model has been formally confirmed for release in Australia and, although Subaru and Toyota are keen to spice up their local line-ups, it’s unlikely either version of the world’s only rear-drive front boxer-engined sportscar will be seen in local showrooms before 2013.

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