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First look: Toyota presents all-new ‘86’ coupe

Toyota’s sleek new rear-drive 86 boxer coupe revealed in final production guise

Toyota logo27 Nov 2011

TOYOTA has laid bare its first sports car in more than five years, rolling out the final production version of its long-awaited new rear-drive ‘boxer’ coupe in Japan today.

The Japanese giant’s all-new compact two-door, which as expected will simply be known as the ‘86’ in its home market, was officially launched in front of an estimated 20,000 fans and media at Toyota’s own Fuji Speedway, ahead of its global public debut at this week’s Tokyo motor show.

As we reported exclusively in June, Toyota registered the 86 name - which is “hachi roku” in Japanese, or “eight six” in English - as an Australian trademark on March 17 this year.

The 86 goes on sale in Australia in mid-2012 with an expected sub-$35,000 starting price.

Touted as “the world’s only horizontally opposed engine and rear-wheel drive package”, in apparent ignorance of more than 50 years of Porsches, the 86 emerges almost entirely faithful to the most recent in a series of sleek, low-slung coupe concepts that have graced motor shows worldwide since the 2009 Tokyo show.

The road-ready 86 was presented by Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda - the man who inspired it and fast-tracked its gestation from concept to reality in just two years – despite Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami and Thailand’s devastating floods, which combined to dethrone Toyota as the world’s largest car-maker this year.

The final production version trades the previous FT-86 II concept’s angular headlights for semi-teardrop shapes, as well at its aggressive front bumper with boomerang-shaped LED daytime-running lights and F1-style front winglets.

It also eschews the wildly pumped-up front wheelarches, super-low roofline, ground-hugging side skirts and 20-inch alloys of the newer Scion FR-S concept from this year’s New York show, and also adds production-ready bonnet shut lines, conventional doorhandles and thicker A and B-pillars.

But the 86 is still an attractive, well-proportioned sports coupe that delivers the right mix of aggression and style, aided by muscular rear quarters and a squared-off rear-end that combines BMW Z4 with Nissan 370Z.

Revealed for the first time, the 86’s driver-focussed 2+2-seat interior features a large central white tacho, alloy-faced pedals, carbon-look dash highlights and red inserts on the leather steering wheel, fabric-clad sports seats, doorhandles, handbrake and gear shifter, plus red seat, centre stack and door trim stitching.

8 center imageThe first official production specifications show the 86 rides on the same 2570mm wheelbase as the concepts that previewed it and is about the same 4240mm length as the FT-86 II, making it more compact than a Volkswagen Golf.

However, the 86 production prototype is 20mm narrower and 15mm taller than the FT-86 II overall, at 1775mm wide and 1285mm high, let alone the significantly longer, wider and lower-slung FR-S concept.

Official data also shows the rear-drive 86 four-seater, which is based on a Subaru platform and powered by a 2.0-litre flat-four Subaru engine, features 1520mm front and 1540mm rear wheel tracks, MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear suspension, and 18-inch alloys with 215/40 front and 225/40 rear tyres.

Fitted with Toyota’s D-4S fuel-injection system, which features separate twin injectors for both direct injection and port injection, the 1998cc DOHC flat-four engine has square (86x86mm) cylinder dimensions and develops 147kW of power at 7000rpm and a modest 205Nm of torque at some 6600rpm.

Toyota says D-4S and a high 12.5:1 compression ratio produces high torque over a wide range of engine speeds and contributes to improved environmental performance, with fuel consumption similar to a standard 2.0-litre sedan.

No official weight, performance or efficiency figures have been revealed, but expect the 86 to weigh only about 1180kg and sprint to 100km/h in around 6.5 seconds, while being able to return combined fuel consumption of 8.0L/100km or less in both six-speed manual and automatic guises.

Toyota says the “front mid-ship” boxer engine results in an ultra-low centre of gravity and low inertia, while the 86 also has the lowest hip point and smallest steering wheel (365mm) of any Toyota-brand production vehicle, delivering a level of fun not seen in other sports cars.

On the practical side, its rear seatbacks fold down to liberate enough luggage space to accommodate four replacement ‘sports’ wheels for competition, or two golf bags.

Codenamed 086A and previously nicknamed ‘Toybaru’ and ‘Subota’, the 86 will be produced by Subaru, about one-sixth of which is owned by Toyota, at its Gunma factory from December.

In a joint-venture project announced in April 2008, it will be built alongside the smaller Japanese brand’s own BRZ coupe, which will also make its world public premiere in Tokyo on November 30 but may not be sold in Australia due to Toyota’s aggressive 86 pricing and marketing might.

Toyota hopes its first affordable sports car since the Celica was discontinued in 2006 – and its first rear-drive model since the MR2 was axed the same year – will inject more sex into the brand in the face of an aging customer base, damaging multi-million-vehicle global recalls and an array of popular small sporting rivals.

These include Subaru’s existing Impreza WRX, Volkswagen’s Golf GTI, the Mazda3 MPS, upcoming Focus and Cruze-based hot hatches from Ford and Holden respectively, and Hyundai’s all-new front-drive Veloster coupe.

It is not yet certain if Toyota Australia will adopt Japan’s 86 nameplate - which refers to the mid-1980s AE86 Corolla that was known among ‘drifting’ circles simply as the eight-six - or apply the ‘GT 86’ moniker to be used in some other markets.

Mr Toyoda, a certified car nut who has competed in the Nurburgring 24-hour race, said the 86 was the culmination of a 10-year quest for Toyota to rediscover its sporting past.

“I am very proud of this car,” said Mr Toyoda. “Thank you for the patience of car lovers. They are going to enjoy this car.”

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