A spiritual successor to the vaunted AE86 Corollas of the mid-1980’s, the new Toyota FT-86 (shown above in concept form) will share those cars’ winning attributes of rear-wheel drive and a good-power-to-weight ratio. The FT-86 will improve upon the AE86 however, with the adoption of Subaru’s flat-four engine. The flat four will sit lower in the engine bay, lowering the car’s center of gravity and thus improving its willingness to change directions quickly.
In other words, the FT-86 will be responsive, and it will be a handler.
It couldn’t come a moment too soon for a company whose high performance successes are all in its past. The company that brought us the 2000GT, Supra, MR2, Celica, and the aforementioned AE86 Corollas, has, of late, suffered from the interesting malady of being perceived as delivering good—but rather boring—cars. Added to the recent troubles Toyota has had with the unintended acceleration flap, it will be good for the company to offer a sporting car with, well, highly intendedacceleration.
Details about the FT-86 are still somewhat sketchy, however we do know the car will go into production during the first quarter of 2012. It will be available with many performance-oriented options and will possibly be involved in a single-make racing series like VW does with the Jetta TDI.
According to Toyota engineers close to the project, the FT-86 is being calibrated to provide driving pleasure, but not at the expense of everyday usability. The steering is characterized as remarkably responsive and body roll in corners is said to be negligible. The engine will be Subaru’s 2.0-liter 16-valve flat four. It is speculated the powerplant will be configured to generate around 200 horsepower, though final output has yet to be settled upon. Buyers will have a choice of a six-speed manual, or a six-speed paddle shift automatic transmission to feed the rear wheels.
It is expected the FT-86 will be a seven-second car to 60 and top at 140.
Shortly after its introduction, Subaru will badge a version of the FT-86 as well. Additionally, Subie and Toyota have a deal allowing the new 8-6 to be built in Subaru’s factory in the United States. Further, this is to be the first of a number of cars the two companies will partner on.