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Geneva show: Toyota shoots for 'low $30k' FT-86

Sharp pricing: FT-86 could land here as one of Australia's most affordable sports coupes if Toyota gets its way.

Bargain-basement thoroughbred on the cards as Toyota warms up FT-86 for Oz

Toyota logo2 Mar 2011

By RON HAMMERTON

TOYOTA Australia is hoping to price its all-new rear-drive FT-86 sports coupe at “low $30,000s” to attract a new generation of sportscar lover to the brand.

That price would make the coupe Australia's most affordable thoroughbred sports coupe, up to $20,000 cheaper than existing rear-drive two-door cars such as the Mercedes-Benz CLC at $51,600 and BMW 120i at $53,200.

Although the FT-86 could face fresh competition from Hyundai’s Veloster coupe, which was also unveiled at the Geneva motor show yesterday, it would also be around $10,000 cheaper than the most affordable variant of Mazda's iconic MX-5.

The ultra-sharp pricing target for the excitement machine that was unveiled in near-production form in Switzerland was revealed at the show by Toyota Australia public affairs manager Mike Breen.

While he cautioned it was too early for the company to set a price for the car that is expected to be launched globally in mid 2012 and arrive in Australian showrooms shortly after, he said the right price was critical to attract buyers up from other Toyota vehicles, such as the Corolla.

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“We would like it to be in the early $30,000s,” he said. “That's where we would like it to be doesn't mean it will be there. Eighteen months away, it is a little too far out to say it will be this or it will be that.

“We have to work out grades, we have to do come clinics, some research on what people will pay, if it is a club car or not a club car – those sorts of things.

“Nothing's locked in until it is locked in. Pricing negotiation is critical to any plan. If it comes in at the right rice and the right volume, then for sure.”

Mr Breen said the FT-86 – developed in conjunction with Subaru which will also launch a version of the car – said it would add sportscar excitement to the brand, something that had been missing since the demise of the Celica, MR2 and Supra in the 1990s.

“It is the sort of car that builds inspiration,” he said. “They (customers) maybe will buy the Corolla and then get into an FT-86 at some stage of their life.

“People always buy Corolla, but in the past they always aspired to have the Celica, and at some stage of their life they did.

“And if you can get the price right, you will bring them into the market sooner than otherwise. It will be a nice, easy step up.”

Mr Breen said Toyota Australia was still looking at potential motorsports applications for the FT-86, as a club car or some sort of production racer.

“We are looking a those sorts of things now,” he said. “I know one thing the chief engineer did when he designed it was that he made the boot area large enough to carry four spare wheels so that when you drive yourself to the race track you can take your road wheels off and put your racing wheels on,” he said.

At Geneva, Toyota showed what it called the FT-86 II concept. Although elements of the vehicle might change between now and production time next year, Toyota insiders say the latest version is getting close to the final design.

Subaru, which showed the 'Boxer' underpinnings of the jointly-developed vehicle under a transparent acrylic body on its Geneva show stand, is yet to confirm the car for its Australian line-up, where it would become the brand’s only model not to employ its trademark all-wheel drive system.

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