Getting its groove back

by Dinzo Tabamo | Oct 26, 2009
If I were in Japan right now for the 41st Tokyo Motor Show, I’d probably be fawning over the FT-86, the spiritual successor to the iconic AE86 sports coupé. [gallery] Sure, the Lexus LF-A is supercar hot and it definitely heralds a new era of sporty performance for the Toyota group. But like the Bugatti Veyron, the Italian exotics, and the German track stars, you admire them at first and behold their blazingly fast performance figures. But after a while you drift towards the more realistic cars on display: the Imprezas, Type Rs, and Japanese roadsters. Because these cars are the ones designed for everyday driving (although supercars are supposedly becoming easier to drive), yet still give you enough spunk to thrash them at the stoplight. To understand all the excitement about the FT-86 (there are already forums and clubs on the internet for this unreleased car), you have to understand that it taps into what made the Subarus and Mazda MX-5s so successful, they’re aspirational cars that you can actually aspire to. Yes, you can aspire for a Ferrari 458 Italia (and you have every right to), but we know the reality. With a price expected to land in the $20,000 (P944,000 before taxes) region, the FT-86 checks all the right boxes necessary to create excitement: 2.0-liter boxer four cylinder engine, rear wheel drive (!), and a wicked design co-developed with Subaru (it’s good to see Toyota finally making use of their stake in Subaru). And of course there’s the car’s heritage. In Toyota the number 86 is as iconic as 300 in Mercedes, and 2002 in BMW. AE86 was the chassis designation of the Toyota Sprinter Trueno, the car whose legend grew in rally and circuit racing, and was immortalized in the Initial D animé and manga. The FT-86 is also a symbol of a new Toyota under the leadership of their president, Akio Toyoda (grandson of the founder), who is a fan of motorsport. The FT-86 and LF-A form the oasis in Toyota’s drought of fun, sporty cars that began when the MR-S, and Supra models were cancelled. The FT-86 is a concept for now, but so was the LF-A back in 2005. Let’s hope the finished version doesn’t look far from the concept, and that Toyota doesn’t make us wait too long. Now, who wants to bet on a black and white Panda two-tone color being released in the future?
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