Toyota has been historically known for producing fun, agile and swift rear-wheel drive cars.
Take the Toyota Supra for example. The Supra was first introduced in 1979. It was heavily based on the 2nd generation Celica to compete with Nissan’s Z lineup. The Supra evolved throughout the years into a ruthless, high performance yet affordable sports car. The Mark IV Supra (1993-2002) revolutionized the
sports car market. It featured a turbocharged V6 engine developing 320Hp; the car could go from a halt to 100Km/h in 4.9 seconds, figures only reachable by cars from companies like Ferrari and Lamborghini back then. The Supra soon developed its own cult, with fans from around the world hailing the car for its customizability. It is, to this day, still used in many drifting competitions and is considered one of the best “sideways” cars ever made. Other notable models are the AE86, a cheap rear wheel drive version of the 5th generation Corolla which was the perfect car for drifting amateurs; And the Sports 800, Toyota’s first tread in sports car territory.
In recent years, Toyota rose to the top as a brand capable of producing solid and unbreakable cars, but this came at a cost. Its fun image soon dwindled, leaving the company with no sports car in its lineup.
At the 2007 Detroit Motor Show, Toyota revealed the FT-HS, a sleek rear wheel drive hybrid sports car. The car made quite a stir, many believing that it was a possible 5th generation Supra, but the auto world received a huge blow when Toyota declared that this was no Supra heir. The Japanese company had something else in mind though. Later that year, Nissan presented their highly anticipated production-ready GT-R, a successor to the famous Skyline. Auto journalists from around the globe shortly fell in love with the car after they test drove it. It was literally a Porsche and Ferrari beater, setting extraordinary lap times around the Nurburgring. That left Toyota out of the picture. The Number 1 automaker then showcased an evolutionary version of the FT-HS, dubbed the FT-86, at the 2009 Detroit Motor Show. The car was co-developed with Subaru. Under the hood was a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine, ditching the hybrid powertrain from the FT-HS. Toyota confirmed that the FT-86 was indeed slated for production. At the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the FT-86 II was unveiled, an aesthetically updated version of the FT-86.
After many years of speculation, Toyota finally uncovered the GT-86 at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. The GT-86 stayed true to the concept’s original design with a few minor external changes. The 2.0L flat-4 engine, mounted to either a manual or automatic six-speed transmission, delivers a total output of 197hp. It doesn’t seem like much, but power isn’t everything. You see, Toyota managed to keep the car’s weight at 1,180 kilograms along with a near perfect 53:47 weight distribution which significantly improves the car’s handling characteristics making it a great choice for all the drifting fans out there.
In conclusion, The GT-86 has a lot pressure on its shoulders; it is the car that will save Toyota from its “dull” image and propel it back to being the company that came out with AE86; the fun Toyota. If the GT86 proves to be a successful car, which I personally think it will, Toyota will be very soon on track to developing a bigger, more powerful sister: The Legendary Toyota Supra.
By Joe Baaklini