Toyota FT-86 (2012): the latest spy photos

Published: 16 May 2011

Toyota continues to test the new FT-86 sports car - the spiritual successor to the Toyota Supra - and our spies have just papped the coupe in Germany.

Our latest spy shots reveal a car that's inching towards production. Compared with the sharp-edged FT-86 II we saw at the 2011 Genevav motor show, we're beginning to see the car in production trim.

So what's different on the Toyota FT-86 we'll actually be able to buy?

Forensic scrutiny of the spy photos versus the concept cars reveals a few stylistic differences. The rear number plate is mounted higher up on the bootlid, switched from the back bumper; the jutting, ice-scraper front spoiler is toned down; and that LED necklace making up the front lights looks to be diluted for showroom versions.

The FT-86 is a joint project between Toyota and Subaru (hence the Toyobaru nickname that so infuriates the suits). The Toyota is designed to be a lightweight, rear-wheel drive coupe to put the company back on the sports car map and has been trailed by two concept cars so far.

What's under the bonnet of the FT-86?

A revvy, naturally aspirated version of a Subaru flat four boxer engine. No firm figures are available yet, but CAR understands that around 200bhp is likely, enough to endow the 1200kg FT-86 with a decent turn of speed. The boxer engine is usefully shorter and sits 110mm lower than a conventional straight four, lowering the centre of gravity.

And what has had to change from the FT-86 concept? 'The challenge has been maintaining the integrity of the concept,' European product planning and marketing manager Duncan McMath told CAR. 'The silhouette is the same, but we've had to make a few changes for production. The lights are slightly different and the bonnet is raised a little to meet predestrian impact legislation, but really, you'll struggle to see the changes.'

When will we see the FT-86 in UK showrooms?

Toyota's new coupe was scheduled to launch at the 2011 Tokyo auto salon this autumn, earthquake disruption notwithstanding. But European sales aren't due until the first half of 2012, carrying the '86' part of the badge, but not the 'FT' bit according to our sources.

Toyota boss Akio Toyoda is desperate to recover the company's sporting prowess, an area it deserted since the loss of the Supra, Celica and hot hatches. Hence the FT-86 will have rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission - in a calculated move designed to mimic the success of drifting king the 1980s AE86.

How hardcore will the Toyota FT-86 be? Are we talking Lotus or TT?

This is Toyota we're talking about, so expect the FT-86 to be aimed resolutely at the mainstream. Two trim levels will be offered at launch, but CAR hears that engineers have been playing with stripped-out versions, Scion-esque styling menus and potentially turbocharged models for high-performance niches.

McMath said: 'I think the high-performance Subaru DNA is about grunt, about four-wheel drive  and electronic systems, which means they tend to be quite heavy. This is a purer car and will feel quite different.'

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet