The Toyota 86 coupe that returns the Japanese car maker to the sports car fold has been officially revealed in production form after months of spy photos and concept previews.
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The anticipated 86 nameplate is a nod to the company's sporty AE86 Corolla of the mid 1980s and is one half of the joint venture rear-wheel-drive sports car shared with Subaru and dubbed the 'Toyobaru'.

The Toyota 86 production car stays faithful to the FT-86 concept cars the company has show, with some detail differences that include the headlights changing from a triangular to teardrop shape. There are also hints of the Nissan 370Z in the muscular rear quarters of the Toyota 86.

Subaru, which will also reveal its BRZ twin at the 2011 Tokyo motor show this week, is responsible for providing the majority of mechanicals for the sports car, though Toyota contributes a number of its own parts such as direct fuel injection technology that creates a more modern take on Subaru's trademark horizontally opposed "boxer" engine.

In the Toyota 86 the 2.0-litre four-cylinder produces 147kW of power at 7000rpm, with a relatively low torque figure of 205Nm arriving at 6600rpm - suggesting drivers should expect an engine that will thrive on high revs rather than mid-range grunt. Toyota, though, says a high compression ratio of 12.5:1 "provides high output and high torque over a wide range of engine speeds and contributes to improved environmental performance".

A modest 0-100km/h acceleration time of seven seconds has been estimated by some members of the European motoring media who have driven prototypes of the Toyota 86, though while straight-line performance doesn't look set to much of a selling point, ultra-compact dimensions (at 4240mm it's only fractionally longer than a VW Golf), a low centre of gravity, 18-inch wheels and a sub-1200kg kerb weight promise greater thrills on winding roads when the car goes on sale in Australia in mid 2012.

Sources with knowledge of both cars have told CarAdvice the 86 and BRZ are virtually identical under the skin and essentially differentiated only by their exterior styling, so will drive exactly the same.

Inside the Toyota 86 there are four seats - with the two rear seatbacks folding down to expand luggage space - and the smallest steering wheel in the Toyota vehicle line-up. The official interior picture released by Toyota reveals a predominantly black cabin offset by sporty red touches for the bucket seats, door grips, handbrake lever, gearstick and steering wheel.

The Toyota 86 is the company's attempt to re-engage with driving enthusiasts after discontinuing the likes of the Celica and MR2 a few years back. Pricing is expected to start below $40,000. Subaru Australia is still deciding whether to import the BRZ.

Main Specifications of Toyota 86 (Production Prototype)

Length4,240 mm
Width1,775 mm
Height1,300 mm
Wheelbase2,570 mm
TrackFront1,520 mm
Rear1,540 mm
Seating capacity4
EngineTotal displacement1,998 cc

Horizontally opposed four-cylinder, direct-injection DOHC

Bore × stroke86 × 86
Maximum output147 kW / 7,000 rpm
Maximum torque205 Nm / 6,600 rpm
Transmission6-speed manual; six-speed automatic
DrivelineRear-wheel drive
RearDouble wishbone
BrakesFrontV disk
RearV disk
Fuel tank50 litres

UPDATE: Follow this link for the Toyota 86 image gallery.