Toyota finally shifts up
SURPRISE, surprise, the top is coming off the Toyota 86.
Actually, it’s no surprise at all, since there has been talk of an 86 roadster since the day Toyota confirmed it was finally getting serious about making a 21st century sports car. So the only surprise is that Subaru currently has no plan to do a fresh-air BRZ.
The coupe twins — which scooped last year’s Carsguide Car of the Year award — have been a joint venture from the first day of development right through to the Subaru factory that currently pumps out Toyota’s new-age hero.
But now Subaru says the open-air 86 is a Toyota-only project and not for the BRZ.
‘‘There is no BRZ convertible showing on our product planning portfolio. And that document goes out for several years,’’ the managing director of Subaru Australia, Nick Senior, tells Carsguide. ‘‘That’s not to say they are considering it, but we definitely have no knowledge. Obviously, we have insight and visibility for several years to help with the planning process, whether it’s technical, sales, marketing or logistics.’’
Senior admits that Toyota might be considering a production plan outside the existing assembly arrangements in Japan, perhaps with a third-party droptop specialist, but says the possibility of a BRZ ragtop is tiny.
‘‘It’s a very small chance. And it’s a chance as small as the volume would be likely to be,’’ he says.
Still, Toyota is pushing ahead with a droptop that’s likely for production in 2014. The car is being previewed next month at the Geneva Motor Show, where it will be badged as the FT86 Open Concept.
So, what’s it all about?
‘‘We cannot discuss future model plans,’’ says Mike Breen of Toyota Australia, confirming the show car is being fast-tracked to the road.
But then he backtracks on that statement.
‘‘It’s only a concept at this stage,’’ he says.
Even so, the roadster is a vital part of the 86 plan because all sports cars have a rapid rise to popularity followed by a quick fall once something newer arrives.
Toyota is moving ahead with plans for its 86 convertible, with the roadster likely to be produced in 2014