A Toyota executive has reiterated the company’s commitment to building a replacement for its Toyota 86 sports car.
The affordable compact, rear-wheel-drive coupe has been a transformational model for the Japanese brand, putting it back on the map with keen drivers.
Toyota 86 sales have slowed predictably more recently, but Toyota Europe boss Karl Schlicht told UK’s Autocar that the model known as the GT86 in Britain “will carry on”.
“The car serves a big purpose,” Schlicht told the magazine.
“We are not getting out of that business. Sporty cars go through their phases.
It’s our intention to continue with that car.”
Toyota’s partnership with Subaru, which produces the twin Subaru BRZ, is highly likely to continue, even though Schlicht said he was unable to confirm.
Subaru provided the fundamental architecture and 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine – the latter a significant contributor to the sports car’s excellent dynamics thanks to its low centre of gravity.
Both cars have just received an update, and Schlicht said Toyota was only now focusing on the next 86.
That’s likely to mean a release date sometime in 2019.
“The GT86 is at the stage where it’s being decided on the next one. Then a chief engineer will be assigned and away we go.”
The 86’s ‘father’, Tetsuya Tada, this year suggested the follow-up model could be slightly smaller, though key influencers from both Toyota and Subaru have cautioned against customer demand for more power than the current 152kW.
The car makers continue to stress that balance of power is vital for the sports car.
In mid-2016, Toyota Australia created a hatchback-style Sportbrake concept version of the 86 – showcasing the potential for a spin-off variant.
Toyota, however, is unlikely to revisit the convertible 86 it had planned for the original before deciding the business case didn’t work.
Toyota’s next sports car will be a revival of the Supra as part of another joint development – this time with BMW, which is producing the Z4 roadster replacement.