A drop-top 86 is com­ing to fight the next gen­er­a­tion MX-5

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­

A con­vert­ible ver­sion of Toy­ota’s sell-out new 86 coupe will ri­val Mazda’s MX-5, also due for a re­vamp in two years

THIS is the car that has to hap­pen. It’s the Toy­ota 86 con­vert­ible and it’s most likely for the road in 2014.

No one at Toy­ota is deny­ing a drop-top ex­ten­sion of the sell-out new coupe, which went on sale in Aus­tralia lit­tle more than six weeks ago and has wait­ing lists of up to 18 months. Yet there is still no of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion from Ja­pan.

‘‘ Please, ask me an­other ques­tion,’’ head of the 86 pro­gram Tet­suya Tada laughs when Cars­guide quizzes him.

Carparazzi has done the job for Tada with its im­pres­sion of how the red-hot coupe will look with­out a roof.

The choice of a Ger­man num­ber plate is a re­flec­tion of the car’s suc­cess in Europe and Toy­ota’s re­cent de­ci­sion to set up an AMG-style hot rod division for Lexus at its one-time For­mula One head­quar­ters in Cologne.

The drop-top was def­i­nitely not part of the orig­i­nal 86 brief — a joint de­vel­op­ment with Subaru— but it has firmed with the in­cred­i­ble ini­tial suc­cess of the 86.

Coupes gen­er­ally hit their sales peak inside the first two years and Toy­ota knows it needs the con­vert­ible to stretch the ap­peal of the 86.

Pro­duc­tion was orig­i­nally pegged at 60,000 cars a year but bur­geon­ing wait­ing lists around the world could force Toy­ota to spend on an up­grade to take the to­tal be­yond 75,000 in 2013.

Toy­ota Aus­tralia is cur­rently quot­ing a min­i­mum wait of three months and a worst-case de­lay nearer 18 months.

‘‘ For the GT au­to­matic, it is three or four months. For the GTS man­ual, which is the most pop­u­lar model, it’s out to about 14 months,’’ says Toy­ota spokesman Mike Breen.

Aus­tralia is push­ing hard for ex­tra cars and is wait­ing for news from Ja­pan but ‘‘ be­cause of the global de­mand, we’re still wait­ing for an­swers’’.

Mean­while, the 86 con­vert­ible’s tough­est ri­val— Mazda’s MX-5, the world’s favourite drop-top— is set for re­newal in 2014. An Alfa Romeo ver­sion of the all-new MX-5 is part of the plan, though Alfa aims to use its own engine and body­work.

‘‘ It’s great news. It helps us share de­vel­op­ment costs and in­crease pro­duc­tion,’’ says Mazda Aus­tralia manag­ing di­rec­tor Doug Dick­son.

He says it will more punch and greater re­fine­ment than the cur­rent car.

Red-hot: Carparazzi’s take on the Toy­ota 86 con­vert­ible, tipped for 2014

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