Our own tcmaboy from PSTOC is in Japan, and has graced us with some of his own coverage of the Tokyon Auto Salon and the vehicles on display there.
WARNING: Do not expect too much information. Due to my language limitations this event was more of a photo scavenger hunt than serious research. I went out looking for things Toyota, things race car, and things just plain weird. What information I have comes from looking at the car, matching up logos, and tracking down company names. To kick things off I suppose I should start off with some Toyota-centric items. For those that follow the blog you have already seen the two IS F club racing concepts.
So, what hasn't appeared on the front page? What has Tom been up to all these years? Apparently making Lexus Parts. On display was a LS 460 with some very subtle body parts and an exhaust system.
Goodyear had a MK X on display all done up complete with booth girl (you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get pictures of the car when the girls are around). The MK X is the successor to the MK II, and shares a platform with the GS. The resemblance to a NASCARed Camry is a bit scary (must be the Goodyear effect).
Gazoo Racing was the primary Toyota representative, and they brought a few shiny toys to show off. Among them were race cars, mini vans, and even an iQ. Packing a giant shoe horn they some how they managed to squeeze an intercooled super charger under the hood of the already cramped iQ.
Continuing down the path of tiny cars was this EV sports concept. It is powered by twin DC motors and a lithium ion battery pack. In a rather interesting twist rather than using the differential to send power to the wheels, a diff was employed to send power from the twin motors to the transmission.
To top things off was this T Sports Concept. I am sure all were excited by the promise of the FT 86 as a return of the small rear drive sports car. This little guy looks equally exciting (though the snowball would have to survive hell first). Front engine, rear drive with a 108 HP engine backed by a 5 speed. While 108 HP doesn't sound like much it should be plenty of fun with a weight target just shy of 2000 lbs. For comparison the AE 86 was several hundred pounds heavier with the 4AG putting out similar HP. Over the years the gold has faded to beige for Toyota, and all I can say is please Toyota polish things up and bring back the golden years.
Toyota's FT-86 G Sports Concept
The FT-86, in case you’ve forgotten, was to be an affordable entry level sports car developed in a joint venture between Toyota and Subaru. The original concept was a front engine, rear drive coupe with a 200 horsepower boxer motor and a $20,000 price tag. Originally set to hit the market in 2011, the project has been hit by a seemingly endless string of delays, and the latest speculation on a launch date has it hitting dealer showrooms some time next year. Left Lane News tells us that the FT-86 will make an appearance at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show in December, but it isn’t clear whether or not a prototype or production car will be exhibited.
It looks like the FT-86 will now get the same engine used in Subaru’s WRX STI, which is a turbocharged 2.5 liter boxer 4 good for 305 horsepower. As you’d expect, more horsepower brings with it a steeper price tag, with the price of admission now rumored to be around $25,000. Somehow, I suspect that will be revised upward prior to launch, since $25k would make the FT-86 the performance bargain of the decade.
Subaru will get their own version of the FT-86, which will send power down to all four wheels. Expect the Subaru to be more up-market than the Toyota version, and expect it to start at a significantly higher price. The Toyota is scheduled to hit the market first, with the Subaru coupe scheduled for launch sometime in 2013. Unless, of course, the project gets delayed again.
Akio Toyoda may want to bring driving excitement back to Toyota, but he and his team have two major hurdles to overcome: The brands's limited enthusiast base and the fact that Japan's youth have very little interest in cars.
To combat both fronts, Toyota plans to launch a new line of budget-oriented vehicles that offer a modicum of sport. But so far, things don't look too promising.
Despite debuting an FT-86-based concept at this year's Tokyo Auto Salon, Toyota's G Sports line of products have mainly focused on the Voxy and Noah minivans, while a "sports" version of the Prius is apparently in the works.
More interestingly, the Mainichi Daily News reports that a version of the GRMN sports car concept has been given the greenlight, meaning a mid-engined hybrid successor to the MR2 is in the works.
All these developments come after Toyota established a sports vehicle management division in January, which now has a hand in the brand's overall product planning. We should get a look at the fruits of their labors during next year's auto show season and could see this new breed of budget sports vehicles on the market – at least in Japan – within the next few years.
According to Adam Zillin at 7tune, Toyota recently held at shindig in Japan for select scribes in order to get some things straight about its Toyota G's performance vehicles. Naturally, talk quickly turned to the FT-86 (or FR-S) Although it was reported two months ago that the much-anticipated sports coupe would be delayed until 2013 for design and powerplant reasons, the Toyota engineers at the event reportedly attested that "the car is on schedule" and still has a planned release date of November 2011.
Clarity on the lineup was offered as well: Three spec levels will be available with at least two engines, and the mid-range model is expected to run around 2.5 million yen ($28,500 USD). Further, it appears that a turbocharged variant will take the top slot. According to 7Tune, none of those engines will be a hybrid – that tech is being reserved for a different sporty product.
If there's any news from the event that makes us as excited as word that we might see the car next year, it's the head of the sports division saying that "because of Toyota's connection with Subaru, there was no way that the car wasn't going to be great." We hope he knows what he's talking about. Top tip, Adam!