FT-86 II Concept - Toyota's Passion for Sports Car Driving Reborn
Toyota has given the clearest indication yet of the final design for its next sports car with the unveiling of the FT-86 II concept at the Geneva Motor Show.
The FT-86 II pays homage to Toyota's illustrious sports car history through its compact proportions which feature a long, low bonnet, high wings and rear-set cabin.
The FT-86 II is an entirely driver-oriented concept - designed to give form to the intrinsic joy of driving through precise, instantaneous responses to even the smallest throttle or steering input - for those who regard driving as a passion rather than a necessity.
Under a design concept that Toyota's European Design Development centre, ED2, has dubbed 'Functional Beauty', its bold, sweeping form has been generated entirely through the constraints of function and aerodynamics developed from F1 technology.
With its low, highly aerodynamic body shell stretched tight over the engineering hard points, the FT-86 II concept's muscular body work has been made as compact as possible.
Featuring a long, 2,570mm wheelbase, the concept is 4,235mm in length, 1,795mm wide and just 1,270mm high.
Rather than relying on a heavy, large displacement powertrain for its performance, the FT-86 II returns to Toyota's sporting roots by combining a free-revving boxer petrol engine and a six-speed manual transmission with compact dimensions, light weight and a low centre of gravity for the best possible power-to-weight ratio.
Both powertrain and driving position have been set as low and as far back as possible to optimise balance for maximum poise, high-speed stability and dynamic agility.
Allied to a front engine, rear-wheel drive format, this affords the FT-86 II lively, accessible performance, highly engaging, readily-exploitable dynamic abilities and maximum driving pleasure.
The FT-86 II concept is the result of an August 2009 announcement that Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries would launch a jointly developed compact rear-wheel drive sports car. European sales of Toyota's new sports car will begin in 2012.
"When the Toyota 2000 GT was built I was 11 years old - and I loved it. I said: 'I want to drive something like this when I grow up.' My dream came true when I drove a 2000 GT in a vintage car rally. That was a really great experience. I want young people to feel those same desires when they see a new Toyota sports car. I want to transfer the thrill of the race track to our vehicles, and make driving fun and exciting for our customers." - Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation.
Since Toyota began the development of its two-cylinder boxer-engined Sports 800 in 1962, the company has maintained a long history of creating exciting, driver-focused sports cars that have proved as popular with the public as they have been successful in competition.
The beautiful 2000 GT, first displayed at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, helped establish the company's global reputation as a sports car manufacturer. This 2.0-litre straight-six powered coupe finished third in the 1966 Japanese GP and went on to establish three world endurance records, including the fastest average speed continuously over 16,000 kilometres - 207 km/h.
A convertible 2000 GT appeared in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. Sadly - created as a movie one-off because the film's star, Sean Connery, could not fit comfortably in the standard coupe - it was never made commercially available.
In the US, former Le Mans winner Carroll Shelby entered the 2000 GT in the 1968 Sports Car Club of America's C-Production category. Despite little development, the lead car notched up four wins against the then-dominant Porsche 911.
In response to the focus of the annual Japanese Grand Prix on sports racing cars with larger engines, Toyota launched its first purpose-built racer in 1968, the Toyota 7, which featured a mid-mounted, 3.0-litre V8 subsequently upgraded to 5.0 litres. The 1970 Toyota 7 Turbo was the world's first turbo-engined racing car.
Before its launch in 1984, Toyota appointed legendary US racing driver Dan Gurney to the testing and development of the MR2. Toyota has always understood the value of motorsport and a racing driver's analytical skills for improving its road-going models. The MR2 gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the best-handling sports cars of all time.
Seven generations of the Celica were sold throughout the world for 36 years between 1970 and 2006. The first Celicas incorporated rear-wheel-drive powertrains and were praised by sports car enthusiasts for their agility. The Celica GT, introduced in Europe in 1974, featured a five-speed transmission and wider tyres.
Appealing strongly to the European market, the redesigned Celica of 1985 featured front-wheel drive and the powerful 2.0-litre 3S-GE engine.
The Celica also achieved considerable success in competition. The Celica Twin-Cam Turbo achieved three consecutive Safari Rally wins between 1984 and 1986.
Taking its first World Rally Championship win in Australia in 1989, the all-wheel drive Celica GT-Four went on to record back-to-back WRC driver's and manufacturer's titles in 1993 and 1994. The GT-Four was the first Japanese car to win both driver's and manufacturer's WRC titles.
Toyota's Supra was launched in 1979. The first two generations were based on the Celica; the Supra only becoming a model in its own right with the third-generation car of 1986. Its roots may be traced back to the 2000 GT, and all four generations boasted straight-six engines and rear-wheel drive.
Engine cubic capacity rose with each generation from 2.5 litres to 2.7 and then 3.0 litres, culminating in the 1993 Mk VI Supra's 320bhp engine with sequential turbocharging, which gave the car a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just 5.2 seconds, and a governed maximum speed of 250 km/h.
With its reputation for delivering pure excitement and embodying the fundamental joy of driving, the Corolla Levin AE86 is the inspiration behind Toyota's latest sports car concept, the FT-86 II.
The Corolla Levin AE86's front engine, rear-wheel drive powertrain, compact dimensions, light weight, impeccable balance and superior power-to-weight ratio made it the must-have choice for rallying and circuit driving throughout its 1983-1987 production life. Even today, the AE86 is still a popular choice with private rallying teams.
Sharing its predecessor's front-engine, rear-wheel drive credentials, the FT-86 II concept introduces a new generation of sports car which perfectly recaptures the exhilarating spirit of the last Corolla Levin AE 86.