Toyota 86 update to raise stakes

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When Toyota's 86 coupe scores a mid-life makeover in 2016, it will bring dynamic improvements across the board, including tweaks to both the engine and chassis.

Although Toyota wo't say exactly what it's planning just yet, mild increases in power from the car's current 2.0-litre boxer engine (147kW/205Nm) are expected, along with updates to the suspension and body work – and possibly the brakes.

Tetsuya Tada, Toyota's chief engineer for sports cars and the man who oversaw the development of the 86 from day one, told motoring.com.au at this week's Tokyo motor show that changes to the car will cover "everything".

Specifically, he listed "engine, body, suspension" and also let slip that there will be a carbon-roofed version, which may or may not be offered in Australia.

Given the extent of the cosmetic, chassis and powertrain upgrades -- and a likely increase in standard equipment – and the 86's bargain-basement starting price of $29,990 could increase.

This, in turn, would give an all-new entry-level Toyota sports car – previewed by the compact S-FR coupe at Tokyo more wiggle room in terms of price in Australia, where it could be priced around just $25,000.

While next year's MY16 86 will bring the first significant upgrade since its launch in 2012, Tada-san said development never stops and planning is already underway for the next-generation coupe expected in another three years' time.

However, Tada again pooh-poohed the idea of employing a turbocharged WRX boxer engine.

"The WRX turbo is not a good solution for future fuel consumption and CO2," he said, before acknowledging the next 86 had to deliver more performance.

"I think turbo is a really easy solution. I always say we try to show something new, always something challenging," he said, adding that downsized turbo engines lack the ability to sound and rev like a sports car engine should.

"The biggest complaint about that kind of engine is the sound. High compression is almost the same as diesel, it makes a boring engine sound," he said.

However, Tada agreed the next 86 would have to have a smaller, high-revving engine – and admitted that electric augmentation had potential.

"It needs to be smaller, and much more high-compression," he said.

"Electric turbo? I think so, that's a really good solution with potential," he added.

Adding weight to expectations of an e-turbo powered 86, Subaru told us this week that a potential STI version of its sister model, the BRZ, could employ an electric turbo.

The godfather of Toyota's sports car renaissance said the next-gen 86 would also be a far more dextrous machine and that the chassis would also "be improved more".

It's not clear if the alliance with Subaru will continue into the second-generation 86, or where all this leaves reports that Toyota's next 86 could be based on the new MX-5 chassis as part of a technology sharing agreement with Mazda, and may be powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol four offering up to 140kW, aided by an F1-style kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).

Tested on local roads against the best sports cars from around the world, the Toyota 86 finished 11th out of 15h cars in motoring.com.au's Australia's Best Driver's Car (#ABDC) in 2015, beating more fancied opponents such as the Ford Falcon XR8 and Subaru WRX STI.

By Feann Torr
www.motoring.com.au

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