Toyota’s FT-86: When Will We Ever See It In Production?

By James Wong

Toyota once again had the FT-86 on its podium at the Frankfurt IAA 2011. Despite having numerous showings in many motor shows before, the car still attracted a fair bit of attention. But there is this lingering sense of everybody asking the same question: ‘When is Toyota going to build it?’

Personally I love the recipe. A compact rear wheel drive car, front-engined with a 200bhp flat-four that would probably allow the centre of gravity of the car to be lowered, and a six-speed manual. The ingredients are already all there for a great car. But it seems Toyota is shuffling its feet and the earliest launch date cited is 2012.

I think Toyota should build this as soon as possible, and here’s why: Toyota’s current line-up of cars do not cater, at all, to the enthusiastic driver. Its cars – hatchbacks, SUVs or trucks – appeal to the mass market but do not reach out to the heart of the driver. As a result, memories of Toyota’s once shining glories of the Supra, MR2 and even the Celica are fast fading. It needs to have a halo car to give people a reason to want to own a Toyota, besides the obvious attributes of reliability and functionality (the former of which has taken a hit in the United States due to recalls and bad publicity).

Also, what the Frankfurt Motor Show has shown is that every single car manufacturer – none excluded – are headed for lower emissions, lighter cars and more efficiency. The FT-86 might be the antidote to responsible sports car ownership, its compact size and likely low weight major advantages in increasingly heavier cars.

Sometimes car makers need to hear it from the drivers on what we really want in a car: simplicity, honesty and fun. Now, Toyota, we’re waiting.

Meanwhile, see our photos of the FT-86 II Concept in our Frankfurt Motor Show gallery.

Author: James Wong

The only writer to be based in Asia, James provides a refreshingly different perspective to the automotive industry with his unique experience of living in the Far East. He is a prolific journalist who has written for several leading automotive publications in Singapore, including Torque Singapore and REV Magazine Singapore. He believes in the thrill of driving and champions for an appreciation of driving pleasure above the horsepower race. In September 2010, James relocated to the United Kingdom, London, bringing him to a whole new environment from which to start a new chapter in automotive journalism.

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