Many Toyota fans have been up in arms since the Supra and Celica models have gone out of production, but the new FT-86 aims to fill this niche. With rather modest specifications, the FT-86 may indeed turn out to be a potent powerhouse when it hits the streets this April; a tall order for a car made to fill the shoes of earlier models. One of Toyota’s past achievements includes the AE86, which the FT-86 pays much homage to.
Some fans may argue that the homage is lost because of Toyota’s collaboration with Subaru for this project. Indeed, the base and engine were both engineered by Subaru, who were initially apprehensive about creating a rear-wheel drive car before development started. However, they were able to surpass even their own expectations when the FT-86 hit the test track, and will hopefully sway the minds of naysayers once it appears in dealerships worldwide.
Under The Hood
In development since 2008, the FT-86 is a landmark in innovation for both Toyota and Subaru. Working in close collaboration to create this monster machine, the car is now weeks away from release, marking the end of Toyota’s lack of a flagship sports coupe. The car itself will pay homage to older Toyota sports cars, like the AE86, 2000GT, and even the fan-favorite Supra.
The engine makes the car in most cases, so the FT-86 will need to deliver. Subaru is behind the innovative boxer engine technology which powers the car itself, helping the Toyota 86 deliver nearly 200 horsepower on the road and track. Such a boxer engine was first seen on Toyota’s Publica Sports car in the early 1960’s, along with a newer variant on Subaru’s very own Forester.
The 2.0-litre D-4S engine has separate twin injectors to provide maximum fuel efficiency and great power output at the same time. Both port and direct injection are possible with Subaru’s engineering. A compression rate of 12.5:1 is also within the D-4S’s capabilities, along with plenty of torque for any road you can think of driving on. The redline is stated to be at about 7400rpm.
Having a unique, horizontally-opposed boxer engine will also help the car achieve much in the way of handling. It is also designed to provide the car with a lower center of gravity, helping the FT-86 achieve swift and easy cornering around even the sharpest turns. It will also negate the need for stiffer suspension, making hard turns a little more comfortable for drivers.
The Toyota 86 will be available with automatic and manual six-speed transmission systems, sourced from Toyota’s very own subsidiary, Aisin Seki Co. The automatic option will come with an ergonomic paddle shifter for easy handling, as well as unique transmission modes designed for different kinds of weather and road conditions.
Being a performance car, the manual transmission might end up a more popular pick for enthusiasts. Subaru states that 80% of the manual transmission’s inner workings are unique to the FT-86, ensuring the car shifts gears just as smooth as the car itself looks on the outside.
The FT-86 will also have an optional LSD, or Limited Slip Differential; a move sure to please higher-octane car enthusiasts who attend track meets. Upon closer inspection, the LSD in the FT-86 is housed in a very familiar sub-frame. Subaru’s end in the collaboration includes the very foundation the car sits on: A frame modified from the popular Impreza. The double-wishbone rear end of the car also has many similarities to Subaru’s prestigious rally car.
Loyal Toyota fans shouldn’t be put off by the many Subaru-made performance additions; the FT-86 will feel uniquely Toyota, still being a rear-wheel drive and all. The power steering system serves as the backbone to the Subaru-designed rack-and-pinion setup, allowing the car to achieve a 13:1 rack ratio. This also makes the car a loose and easy handler, as the steering was also designed around the proprietary, low-mounted boxer engine.
The large 17-inch alloy wheels also make a good a statement as the overall exterior of the car does. Sleek styling gives the FT-86 a remarkable presence on the road or track, with large curves that echo past Toyota fastbacks.
Step Inside: The Interior
The first thing an avid motorist may notice is the way the seats ride low inside the interior. The low seating position is integral keeping a low center of gravity for the FT-86. As a Subaru representative eloquently puts it: “A low seating position will minimize unnecessary body and eye movement caused by lateral g-forces when cornering, allowing precise vehicle control.”
Speed freaks might also admire the little touches made on the heads-up displays under the dashboard. Part of the FT-86’s measuring instruments include a large, white-faced tachometer placed right in front of the driver, along with an integrated digital speedometer that is modest in size, yet easily readable by anybody.
Of course, you may not be zipping past corners 24/7. Comfort is key to the driving experience, and Toyota’s recent experience with larger luxury sedans shows: Automated climate controls, heated front seats, and touch-screen navigation systems make Sunday driving a breeze. Connectivity for your USB, Bluetooth and SD card devices is also part of the Toyota 86’s entertainment interface.
Sleek and comfortable inside and out, the many specifications behind Toyota’s new FT-86 might make it a new company staple, and a worthy successor to their previous sporting coupes.