Good news FT-86 fans. I was invited as one of the only foreign journalists to attend a press day on Wednesday where the JDM only Noah and Voxy Minivans were being showcased by G’s, the sports vehicle oriented arm of Toyota Japan. The FT-86 though, didn’t take long to come up in the conversation…
Most importantly, Toyota held the strictly invite only event not only to show off the G’s upgrades to their people movers but also to offer access to some of Toyota’s innermost engineers and sports department managers.
This presented an ideal opportunity to discuss Toyota’s involvement in the current market and inevitably, questions regarding the FT86 surfaced quickly.
A private 20 minute question and answer session I had with Dr. Shigeyuki Hori, Project General Manager for the Sports Vehicle Management division and Kazuo Okino, Group manager for the same division uncovered a number of promising pieces of news.
I can confirm that the cars development is on schedule and that the reports for the cars release in 2013 are erroneous. Toyota reiterated its intent to release the car by the previously appointed date, in November 2011. I can also confirm that the car is approximately 50% complete with the target price remaining steady for the mid level spec FT-86 at approximately 2.5 million yen ( approx. $29,000 USD ). One can only speculate at the moment what the base grade spec and price will be and no mention was made of the price for the top spec model but one can be led to guess this will involve a turbocharged motor.
While on the subject of turbocharging, Hori san and Okino san both confirmed that discussions were still being held and nothing had been decided yet. Both were hesitant to provide any confirmation on the radical Gazoo Racing model that wowed the world at last years Tokyo Auto Salon. It needs to be remembered that G’s is ostensibly a street car oriented arm of Toyota and as such the cars will be basically stock power wise with most of the modifications coming in the way of aesthetic changes and suspension, chassis and brake upgrades.
But take heart – the Voxy and Noah concepts at Wednesdays conference appeared in almost exactly the same configuration as the cars that were displayed at the TAS last year. This bodes well for the FT-86.
Another interesting fact about the cars development is that it will remain virtually unchanged, design wise. Okino san was clear in his remarks when he said that the FT86 will only be modified in regards to its aesthetic parts, namely items relating to the body but the overall shape will not change.
One last piece of news that is sure to bring some relief, was the comment made that a hybrid version was not being considered for the FT86. Hybrid technology is indeed being considered for the sport car segment but in another form of car. This car is most likely to be the new Toyota Hybrid sports concept.
Later in the day, the Chief Officer for Toyota’s Motor Sports Division, Tadashi Yamashina, held an exclusive round table conference for the assembled journalists of which 7tune was privy to.
One of the journalists at the conference reminded Yamashina san that there is a very high level of anxiety amongst the public over the FT-86, to which Mr Yamashina replied categorically that the cars development was on schedule and that because of Toyota’s connection with Subaru, there was no way that the car wasn’t going to be great. Read from that what you will but it is clear that Toyota is holding this hand very very close to its chest and is intent on releasing news and coverage on the car when it feels the time is right.
Who can blame them really? This is one of the most anticipated cars to come from Japan in over a decade, so Toyota and its members are quite within their right to be guarded with information.
I was very encouraged by the positive signals coming from within the organization and the general tone appears to be one of positivity in the changes taking place.
I would like to personally extend my thanks to the Corporate Communications Department personnel, and Toyota as a whole, for offering 7tune the opportunity to be a part of this important conference.
Words – Adam Zillin
Photos – Toyota