Toyota goes back to its roots with the new FT-86
In the spirit of remaking popular car models of the past, Toyota is set to re-introduce a new model of the Corolla Levin/Sprinter Trueno. This kickback from the mid-1980s will be known as the FT-86.
It’s almost become a tradition for car manufacturers to go back to their roots, look at the public’s favourite model and remake it some 20-30 years later. Ford did this with the new GT40, the Mustang, the GT500 and has a Capri remake on its way.
Honda are trying to bring back the iconic CRX of the 1980s except the new CRZ will come with an electric power unit rather than a screaming VTEC engine, which still today knocks spots off the hot-hatches (the real world 0-62 time for the 1.6 VTEC 150bhp was under seven seconds).
Toyota has decided to get in on the action. The original car (Corolla Levin/Sprinter Trueno) was known by its chassis code, AE86, and the new car will be known as the FT-86. With a similar engine to the old CRX, the 1.6 Toyota 4AGE motor was rev-hungry and provided some great fun for the driver, particularly as it was rear-wheel drive.
The FT-86, is a joint venture with Suburu (never a bad thing considering their recent cars), with a two-litre boxer engine that will send up to 200bhp to the rear wheels. With a long wheelbase, a short front and rear overhangs, the new Toyota will no doubt be as fun as the old car, and with just as predictable handling.
Rivals are said to include the VW Scirocco as it will most likely match the 7.2 second sprint to 60mph and a 146mph top speed. In reality, although the VW handles very well, the FT-86 should handle far better as it has a rear-drive chassis.
The new car will have a six-speed gearbox, the same one which is mated to the Lotus Elise, which has Toyota derived engines. This should mean Lotus will shift onto the boxer engine in good time! As the Suburu engine is renowned for its turbos, 200bhp could just be the starting point for the FT-86. We could see a bhp figure double this if ‘enthusiasts’ get hold of them.
The UK will have to wait a little while for the FT-86 although recent spy-photos show the car being tested around the Nurburg Ring, which usually means it isn’t far off making a debut.
Toyota seems to be listening to the public and is bringing back true drivers' cars. It offset its goals by producing the unbeatable Prius hybrid car, the Lexus LS 600h and its collaboration with Tesla Motors, who only deal with electric engines. This has in essence allowed the company to focus on bringing out the sleek new FT-86 coupe, the MR-2 4x4 and a sporty version of the Avensis, which is destined for the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).