A new Toyota 86 is under development, according to chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, who says it will be better to drive than the new GR Supra.
Speaking with MOTOR at the local launch of the Supra, Tada-san dropped the news that “We have a new 86 team”. While Toyota’s local PR representatives were keen to point out that having a development team doesn’t mean a new model will make production, it’s nevertheless encouraging news.
The future of the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ sports car has been cloudy as global sales haven’t been stunning – the models’ popularity in Australia is an outlier – and the sports car market is shrinking, forcing partnerships like the Toyota-BMW alliance that spawned the new Supra/Z4, the Mazda-FCA deal with the MX-5/124, and the Toyota-Subaru tie-up that revived the 86 in the first place.
Despite local PR assertions, Tada’s comment that “we have to make a new 86 that surpasses the Supra… that is what the customer expects,” suggests work is well underway. In fact, Japanese motoring outlet Best Car has recently reported that the new-generation ‘Toybaru’ is set to make a shock appearance at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show.
Tada explained to MOTOR that, thanks to lessons learned during the Supra’s development, the A90 has a stiffer bodyshell than the all-carbon Lexus LFA and a lower centre of gravity than the current 86/BRZ, despite using a conventional engine rather than Subaru’s boxer. Tada would not be drawn on whether those lessons meant the new 86 could be made with a regular internal combustion engine.
MOTOR review: GR Supra first Australian drive
While details regarding the new 86 are scarce, there are a number of options readily apparent. The first is to continue the relationship with Subaru, which would make sense as all Toybarus are built in Subaru’s Gunma factory.
It could use a heavily revised version of the current platform or may migrate to a rear-drive TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, which is expected to underpin the next-generation of Toyota and Lexus rear-wheel drive models.
Finally, and possibly related to the above, Japanese reports suggest Toyota and Lexus could share Mazda’s forthcoming rear-drive platform, a patent of which was discovered recently, showing a heavily braced double-wishbone front-end.
MOTOR’s take: If we were to speculate, the latter option makes the most sense, with Mazda perhaps even taking Subaru’s part in the development process. This would provide a platform for the next-generation Toyota Mark X and Lexus IS sedans, Lexus RC and Mazda ‘RX-9’ coupes, and Toyota 86 sports car. It could increase Mazda’s production and provide a key revenue source while preventing the need for Toyota to invest in development or production of models that are falling in popularity.