Taking on the world
Toyota sees a bigger future for its youth car, writes Peter Lyon
THERE is more to Toyota’s youth-driven FT-86 project than first thought. The born-again Sprinter is definitely a coupe and now there will be a four-door sedan.
Even though sedans are not popular in Japan — except the Lexus IS200 and the Toyota Altezza — Toyota can see serious potential in a global car based on the FT-86.
Loyal Altezza customers are one reason the sedan has been given the go-ahead, according to a source close to Toyota. It also helps that the basics are easy to tweak for four-door work.
In truth, using the FT-86 platform for a sports sedan is insurance to cover any shortfall in FT86 sales. At the same time, it makes the most of the rear-drive platform.
One Japanese commentator goes as far as to say the sports sedan project is there in case the FT-86 fails so Toyota does not have to cancel the project altogether.
The sedan will not only incorporate the FT86’s Subaru Liberty-based mechanical pack- age, but it will also get the 150kW boxer engine and six-speed manual transmission (or CVT) from the Impreza.
The car is expected to fall into a segment between the BMW 1-Series and 3-Series, including the Audi A3 and the Golf GTI, so the Japanese sticker price should be close to $30,000.
Because more power might be required down the line, Toyota can bring the Subaru Outback’s 3.6-litre H6 engine into the equation. But by the time the new sports sedan — not to mention the FT-86 coupe— makes it to showrooms in 2013, Subaru will have its own in-house hybrid boxer engine.
This will create yet another powertrain opportunity for Toyota and a package that should be more exciting to drive than Toyota’s current hybrids.