We’ve been eagerly awaiting the next Toyota sports car ever since we saw the FT-86 concept, and we know you have too. The original concept was unveiled towards the end of 2009, and was followed by the mean-looking FT-86 II concept at the 2011 Geneva motor show.
The GT 86 has been conceived as an entirely driver-focused machine, designed to deliver the core qualities of the classic sports car experience. That means precise, instant response to the smallest throttle and steering inputs and the kind of performance that appeals to those for whom driving is a passion, not a necessity.
The GT 86 is built on a new platform, with a highly aerodynamic bodyshell stretched tight over the car’s mechanical elements. Rather than fitting a heavy, large capacity powertrain, Toyota has opted instead to go back to its sporting roots, installing a compact, front-mounted, free-revving petrol engine that drives the rear wheels.
The GT 86’s engine is the result of a joint Toyota and Subaru development programme that brings together their technical know-how and mutual passion for sports cars.
Toyota has added its D-4S injection technology to Subaru’s new, horizontally opposed, naturally aspirated 1,998cc four-cylinder boxer engine. This system features separate twin injectors for both direct and port injection, and a high 12.5:1 compression ratio, increasing power and torque across a wide range of engine speeds without sacrificing fuel efficiency and environmental performance.
This four-cylinder “boxer” unit generates 197bhp at 7,000rpm and maximum torque of 205Nm at 6,600rpm, giving engaging performance. The powertrain is matched to the world’s most compact four-seat design to create a car that benefits from light weight, low inertia and a low centre of gravity to achieve the best possible power-to-weight ratio. For the driver that means lively, accessible performance and dynamic character with minimal intrusion from electronic systems.
Power is distributed to the rear wheels via a limited slip differential to give the best possible grip in all driving conditions. The ABS and switchable vehicle stability control systems have been tuned specifically to deliver dynamic stability at the limit of the car’s performance envelope with minimal electronic intervention to help preserve the purity of the driving experience.
The design of the GT 86 successfully works within the technical constraints of achieving the most compact dimensions possible, a low centre of gravity and aerodynamic performance inspired by motorsport technology, while also displaying evocative, sweeping styling that hints at Toyota’s sports car heritage.
The lower grille’s “scorpion” look gives the GT 86 a more powerful appearance, with further sporting details including the model-specific 17-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, twin exhausts and the “86” piston logo that denotes the car’s special powertrain configuration.
On board, the ergonomics and function of every element the driver interacts with have been scrutinised to make driving the car as natural, instinctive and rewarding as possible. For example, the steering wheel has a 365mm diameter, making it the smallest ever fitted to a Toyota, and it is trimmed in buckskin, developed from exhaustive feedback from test drivers on how to achieve the best steering performance and grip.
The three-meter instrument cluster is arranged around a large tachometer, its design benefiting from close attention to the positioning of the displays, markings and typeface. The result is the best possible visibility and readability. The driver-focus of the cockpit is further reinforced by the carbon-effect trim, all-black roof lining, red stitching on the upholstery, aviation-style rocker switches and lightweight, aluminum pedals.
The compact 2+2 model, one of the most keenly awaited new cars of the coming year, will go on sale in the UK in June 2012. Until then, visit our new GT 86 Flickr gallery to see more images.
Update, 03 February 2012: The official UK start price for GT 86 has now been announced – click here to find out more.