Count­ing the cost

The price isn’t right for Toy­ota’s new coupe, writes Peter Lyon in Ja­pan

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

THE up­com­ing Toy­ota FT-86 has al­ready taken its first hit — more than 18 months be­fore it makes it to show­rooms.

The com­pact coupe is sup­posed to rein­vig­o­rate Brand T and draw new, younger buy­ers, but Toy­ota in­sid­ers say it has al­ready run into cost prob­lems.

Toy­ota was orig­i­nally aim­ing for a start­ing price in the low $20,000 range — at least in the US — but that has al­ready slipped by more than $5000 and the fully equipped car is now likely to be be­yond $30,000 in Amer­ica.

Costs for the car — called the Toy­o­baru be­cause it shares its chas­sis and driv­e­train with the Subaru Im­preza — have bal­looned from the ini­tial bud­get be­cause the re­search-and-devel­op­ment team is fo­cus­ing more work on min­imis­ing fuel-con­sump­tion fig­ures and pro­duc­ing the clean­est en­gine pos­si­ble.

Subaru’s boxer en­gines are tra­di­tion­ally not con­sid­ered to be that clean or fuel-ef­fi­cient, which is the rea­son for the ex­tra work.

FT-86 devel­op­ment group head Tet­suya Tada says mar­ket re­search led his team to lift the car’s tar­get buyer age by 10 years, up from thir­tysome­thing to fortysome­thing.

But for a bar­gain base­ment­priced con­cept sup­posed to in­ject in­ter­est back into Toy­ota’s low­erend sports car line-up, the price hike will be a slap in the face to the bean­coun­ters in Ja­pan.

Com­pact but costly: a price in­crease has damp­ened Toy­ota’s hopes of the FT-86 coupe (in­te­rior above) ap­peal­ing to younger buy­ers.

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