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by Tim Beissmann

A near-production-ready prototype of the Toyota 86 Convertible has been spied in South Africa, giving us our first undisguised look at the highly anticipated open-air Japanese sports car.

A reader of South Africa’s CarMag snapped the soft-top Toyota 86 in Cape Town where it was locked up behind security gates and closely guarded.

The spy images suggest the sleek lines of the 86 coupe will translate well to the convertible version, with clean side panels, a tidy window line and a rear-end seemingly untarnished by its acquisition of the folding roof’s mechanicals.

Earlier this month, Toyota confirmed it would unveil an 86 Convertible concept at the Geneva motor show in March and gauge public reaction to the new variant, although these images suggest development of the production car is much more advanced than Toyota has been letting on.

Expected to reach production by 2014, the Toyota 86 Convertible will retain the coupe’s 147kW/205Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder Boxer engine that is shared with its sister car, the Subaru BRZ.

More details will be revealed at the world premiere of the Toyota 86 Convertible concept in Geneva on March 5.