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Future models - Toyota - Celica

Toyobaru turbo, too

Sports renaissance: Toyota's FT-86 is a "better than even chance" of arriving in Australia, most likely as a new-age Celica.

Toyota’s new compact coupe should grow to include turbo and convertible versions

Toyota logo27 Oct 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

EXPECT Toyota’s FT-86 Concept to evolve into a compact two-door sportscar range that comprises turbocharged and convertible models, if comments by its chief engineer are any guide.

Speaking at last week’s Tokyo motor show after the reveal of the ‘Toyobaru’ showcar, which was jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru, Tetsuya Tada indicated that both naturally-aspirated and turbocharged versions of the boxer-engined coupe could emerge over time.

“It's not the end (of development) when we launch this vehicle,” he said. “It has to evolve each and every year. Within that environment, there are many possibilities.” Asked if a performance version in the vein of models from Subaru’s STI brand or Toyota’s TRD division, which is now defunct in Australia, was on the cards, Mr Tada said: “Those sort of customised version, we have something of their sort in our mind. So please raise your expectations.” When quizzed on the likelihood of a convertible derivative, Mr Tada said: “Yes, within our evolution that is also an idea, depending on your support.”

8 center imageUnofficially confirmed for production in 2011, the rear-drive FT-86 four-seater is powered by a 2.0-litre horizontally opposed Subaru engine that Mr Tada said was developed from scratch employing “the latest technology from both brands”.

Possibly based on Subaru’s next-generation boxer engine, it is understood to feature direct-injection cylinder-head hardware from Toyota, which he said also set the performance benchmarks for what will be badged as the Celica in Australia.

“I won't say the possibility is nil, but nothing is decided at the moment,” said Mr Tada on the subject of the all-new model’s nameplate, which could take a number of forms depending on the market in which it is sold.

A Toyota Australia executive told GoAuto the FT-86 has a better than even chance of becoming a production model for Australia, which would be the brand’s first rear-drive model since the MR2 disappeared from local showrooms more than five years ago.

Though it will be built by Subaru, which is 16.5 per cent owned by Toyota, the new-age Celica will be the first all-new model to emerge from Toyota under the leadership of newly appointed president Akio Toyoda, who used the Tokyo show to promise more exiting models from the Japanese automotive giant.

“TMC launched many sports cars in the past including the Levin and Trueno ‘hachi roku’ models, the Supra, the Altezza, and the MR-S,” said Mr Toyoda. “The fact that none of these vehicles is still being produced makes me, a serious car fan, really sad.

“It is often said that young people today have drifted away from cars, but I feel that it may not be the customers who have drifted from cars, but us, the manufacturers.

“For this reason, I believe it is the mission of automakers to provide the fundamental excitement of automobiles to customers, regardless of the era. Doing so will attract people and serve as a driving force in cooperation with customers for the further development of the motorised society.

“The FT-86 Concept was developed to give form to the intrinsic joy automobiles provide - things like the accelerator and steering exactly matching the driver's intentions and the feeling of wanting to drive more – and to provide it to customers as soon as possible.

“To have automobiles remain integral to people and society for the next 100 years, TMC will continue to pursue optimal automobiles that embody the dreams and desires of people and that people will come to want.”

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