Toyota favours Supra convertible over drop-top 86

ANDREW MACLEAN
Last updated 06:10 25/06/2014
Toyota is looking to create a convertible version of its FT-One concept. This image has been digitally altered.
Fairfax Australia

DROP TOP: Toyota is looking to create a convertible version of its FT-One concept. This image has been digitally altered.

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Toyota is turning its attention to ripping the roof of its yet-to-be-revived Supra sports car rather than pushing forward a convertible version of its more affordable Toyota 86 coupe.

The chief engineer in charge of both vehicles, Tetsuya Tada, spoke to Fairfax Media at last weekend's Nurburgring 24-hour race, where he was overseeing a three car Gazoo Racing outfit that included the president of Japanese car maker, Akio Toyoda, driving an LFA to a class victory.

He says that while he hasn't "given up" on the prospect of a convertible 86, which is ready for production after it was first shown as a concept at last year's Geneva motor show and updated in right-hand drive for the Tokyo show, the economic downturn in Europe and slowing sales for the 86 in the US are making it difficult to justify the additional costs.

Instead, Tada says it may be easier to build a viable business case for a convertible variant of the more expensive sports car currently under development in partnership with BMW, which is expected to revive the Supra name plate.

"There are many business case study going on, [but] as we speak it is very hard to realise," he said.

"There are many articles regarding another sports model from Toyota up higher from 86. I'm thinking convertible model will be on higher model ... maybe."

"Our final goal [is that] we want to do three sports models from Toyota and at least one convertible model will be realistic."

Tada said the stunning FT-One the brand showed at the Detroit motor show  in January is just the first of a number of concept cars the company will use to gauge reaction from customers on the styling of the Supra.

He said the final production car will most likely adopt the front-engined layout of the concept - and past Supras - but also admitted a mid-engined supercar was also being considered.

Tada is, however, remaining tight lipped on what will power Toyota's new flagships and just what level of components will be shared with BMW, which is rumoured to be using the project to create a new roadster above the Z4.

"FT-One is the first of the design studies and there are no technical or mechanical requirements yet," he said.

"We will make this more clear in the future."

While Tada is reluctant to discuss details of the third sports car in Toyota's trio, except to say it will be the "entry" model, one concept he all but quashed is the much-rumoured four-door version of the 86.

"Of course, this is possible technically speaking," he said.

"I think this is okay from a philosophy point of view, but always the business case is the most difficult point to bring this to the market

"We are studying this, but [more likely] this is pure concept."

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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