Toyota 86 due August in NZ
Already launched in Australia, Toyota's joint- venture sports car, the 86, will reach New Zealand showrooms in August, with the Subaru BRZ rendering of this front-engine, rear-drive project arriving a little bit later.
The very fact that our first batch will be of 100 units is good news, but even better is that the car's starting price is to be $41,986. Just think, for just under $5000 more than a Corolla, you opt for a flat-four front-engined rear-drive coupe.
Toyota's prices are usually rounded to $90, but with a whimsical touch, the 86's stickers all end in $86. A slightly better- equipped version called the GT86 will be offered from $46,986, with a sports aero kit adding another $1600.
You'll be able to buy a much more sports-oriented Toyota Racing Developments TRD86 version of the coupe for $63,486, but our bet is that the more sparsely equipped cars will sell more quickly, as it is definitely a car that owners will want to personalise, with some even becoming weekend track cars for those who have the sense to exploit their cars and driving skills at the circuit rather than on public roads.
It's all about balance, and Toyota should be congratulated for its willingness to co-operate with partner Subaru, as by donating the heart of the car to the 86/BRZ plan, in the form of the naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre flat- four, Subaru provides the hardware that keeps the centre of gravity of the plot down low. At just 460mm from the ground, this is more than 20mm lower than most sports in-line engined cars. It also helps the car's weight distribution. At 53:47 front-rear it's close to perfect for a rear-drive coupe, with 50:50 on the button.
Subaru also supplied some of the underpinnings while Toyota came up with the over all engineering and design, and the pleasing, but hardly outrageous body shape and interior.
In terms of power and torque, the naturally-aspirated square- dimensioned 86mm x 86mm flat- four engine delivers an elegant sufficiency of urge, with 147kW and 205Nm on tap, though enthusiasts have already pointed out that Subaru already has the plumbing in its parts bins to make a turbo version and the oily bits to introduce all-wheel-drive. However, both companies are keeping mum about such things and from driving impressions gleaned in Australia, the car already impresses in a Goldilocks sort of way; supplying just the right amount of power for the job, while the brakes are said to be right on the case too.
The car sports a six-speed manual with a six-speed automatic available for just $1000 more. All 86 models, except for the entry-point automatic, have a Torsen limited slip differential.
The 86's kerb weight starts at a surprisingly lean 1222kg, for a power-to-weight ratio of 120kW/ tonne. This means that despite being turbo-free, the car can still get to 100kmh in the mid-seven second bracket. This also has a good effect on economy and emissions.
The manual manages 7.8 litres/100km and 181g/km CO2 and the automatic just 7.1 litres/100km and 164 g/km.
Every 86 has seven airbags, sports mode stability control, traction control, ABS, alloy wheels, cruise, air conditioning, CD audio with Bluetooth and iPod compatibility, daytime running lights and information display.
GT86s have 17 inch instead of 16 inch alloy wheels, auto- levelling lights, LED daytime running lights, leather trim, red stitching, and Alcantara lined sports seats, alloy sports pedals and climate control.
The Toyota Racing Development (TRD) package will only be available on 20 cars, with a choice of colour and transmission for each car which will be built to order. TRD86s have a special front spoiler, side skirts, rear lower bumper spoiler and boot spoiler. Black finished forged 18 inch alloy wheels and a Brembo brake set-up are included along with a high response muffler, a four tip exhaust and a sports air filter. The 86 is available in seven exterior colours.
After the August batch is taken up, Toyota says additional 86s will be available in early 2013.
Eighty-six - various meanings
The use of 86 has various connections. In restaurant-speak, when something is "eighty-sixed" it means that they're out of something. In military circles in the US, it refers to the standard depth of a grave - 7' 2" or 86 inches - so to eighty-six something, is to bury it. In Toyota circles, the mid- 80s rear-drive AE86 Corolla Levin is the surest link to the new 86 model. It was famous for its balance, poise and precision, and this is just the image Toyota requires for its new coupe.
In Japanese, it's 'Hachi juu roku', and that's what I'd call mine.
- The Press