Toyota FT-86 concept harks back to affordable AE86
The iconic Toyota Sprinter Trueno, also known as the Corolla GT-S in some markets, was a 2-door hatchback that was first introduced in 1983. It had a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine with maybe 130 hp and, more importantly, a balanced rear-wheel-drive chassis. It became more commonly known as the AE86, nicknamed after its chassis designation, and is popular on the Japanese drift scene till today, even though production ended in 1986. It achieved worldwide popularity only during this past decade, as the hero car in the Japanese animated series Initial D. And now, Toyota is readying a successor in the form of the FT-86 concept at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show.
The FT-86, with the “86” pronounced as “hachi roku” in Japanese, is a compact rear-wheel-drive sports car, going back to the roots of the original. Toyota briefly says that it is intended to be light and compact, with a low ride height and a manual gearbox.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine, likely because Subaru will supply it, and will have its own version of the car. The actual FT-86, already confirmed for production, will be affordable and should cost under Dhs 100,000. After “budget” cars like the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Nissan Z have all become overpriced nowadays, it looks like Toyota is building a niche for itself in the lower end.
After the recession hit and Toyota suffered its first loss in decades, the company replaced its boss with a younger member of the founding Toyoda family. In all his honesty, he admitted that quality is suffering and exciting models are lacking, while also admiring Hyundai for their current rise in sales in the worst of times. It looks like he is taking the company in the right direction.