The man responsible for the Toyota 86 says the model's future is bright, with enough ideas and concepts under development to keep existing fans interested and potentially attract new fans to the already popular model.
In Australia for the country’s third Festival of 86 event, Toyota 86 global chief engineer Tetsuya Tada told CarAdvice he and his team have “plenty of ideas, but we’re always looking for the very best ideas”.
Tada-san highlighted a particular interest in ideas coming from Australia, most notably from Toyota Australia’s local design team – a team headed by design chief Nicolas Hogios, a key figure behind the just-revealed, locally-conceived and Japan-built Toyota 86 Shooting Brake.
Speaking through an interpreter, Tada-san said, “The thing I’m excited about, is that up until a few years ago, Toyota was proud of being the number one producer of cars, but all the criticism was saying, ‘They make a lot of cars but it’s all boring’".
“So, since the Toyota 86 has been produced, we wanted to make a car with passion and not for just targeting a number or profit. And then since then, people have been becoming more passionate and putting more effort into making better quality cars.
“And then 86 changed the trend of the thinking of the old workers in Toyota. Now they put more passion into making a car that they really want to produce. So it’s not perfect yet, but in the future I’m wishing that all the cars we produce at Toyota will be full of passion. These are the things I’m aiming for and am excited about.”
Admitting that fighting against aspects of the company’s ‘old school’ mentality is tough, Tada-san says, “[it’s] hard but very fun.”
Another area where Tada-san sought clarification was on why Toyota appears so vehemently set against turbocharging its sole sports car.
Powered by the same naturally aspirated 2.0-litre direct-injection horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine as when it first launched back in June 2012, the Toyota 86 has often been criticised for its seemingly tame outputs of 147kW of power and 205Nm of torque.
“Please don’t misunderstand me, because I don’t really have anything against using a turbocharger – turbo is really good,” Tada-san said.
“But the only problem is, if you put a turbocharger into the 86, it comes at the cost of more weight. And a heavier car is not as much fun as a lighter car.
“The current [1257kg minimum] 86 does not match well with a turbocharger because of the package size. But if you change the package itself, it works, and then the added weight becomes less of a concern.”
Revealing that he is most definitely considering turbocharging for other projects, the engineering chief says he is interested in finding the right application for the technology, “…But not particularly for 86 yet.”
Although the current 86/BRZ program has been a collaboration between the Toyota Motor Company (TMC) and Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), Tada-san says any future developments could just as easily incorporate other manufacturers the brand has relationships with, including BMW and Mazda.
“So we have lots of choice.”
Finally, giving fans of the Toyota FT-86 Open concept – first unveiled at the 2013 Geneva motor show – a glimmer of hope toward a production Toyota 86 convertible, the die-hard enthusiast executive says he is still determined to see it happen.
“I’ve never given up on producing the convertible 86 – someday, somehow.”
Back in 2013, Toyota Australia sales and marketing executive director Tony Cramb expressed his keenness to see a drop-top 86 on local roads, saying he believed an 86 Convertible would “add another dimension to the driving pleasure derived from the 86 platform”.
Cramb also pointed out, however, that any decision to produce an open-air variant of the 86 would remain the realm of Toyota Japan, with projected profitability of the model being a key factor in the process.
How would you like to see the Toyota 86 evolve? Would you buy a turbocharged or convertible 86? Let us know in the comments section below.