GUEST POST: The Low Down on the FT-86 Toyota Concept

By Olivia Kane
Based on the bestselling Toyota GT86 sports coupe, the FT86 concept so far appears to be a convertible version of the coupe, and one that will return Toyota to its first convertible since the MR2 in 2006; given the popularity of the GT86 since its launch last year, and the productive relationship that Toyota currently involve with co designer Subaru, a convertible model could strengthen the GT86 brand. Based on what we’ve seen so far, though, what can we expect from the FT86 concept?

The success of the GT86, which was voted as Top Gear’s Car of the Year for 2012, can be  linked to its lightweight frame and precision designed 2.0 litre boxer engine, which shares a platform with the Subaru Impreza - the engine is capable of 197 bhp, and comes as part of an overall aerodynamic chassis that can hit 0-60 mph in just 7.4 seconds, while also features highly responsive brakes and a sports suspension. Praise for the GT86 has focused on its excellent handling and efficient economy.  
From what we’ve already seen of the FT86, the concept will use the same 2.0 litre engine, and will slightly increase the GT86’s wheelbase to 101.2 inches - the convertible design will also feature elements from GT Sports editions, as well as a four door design to compensate for the current two door coupe size - so far, though, most of the details around the FT86 have been somewhat hazy, albeit with an acceptance that the concept won’t depart too much from the performance specs of the GT86. 
It’s likely that the FT86 concept could be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show, after having being spotted and photographed in South Africa in a white model - in terms of what’s probably going to be included with the model, the weight of the car will have to be increased by about 100 kg to handle the retractable roof and the extra suspension strength required for a convertible model. 
In the meantime, Toyota are also working on the final launch of a TRD edition of the GT86, which will allow drivers to upgrade to sports kit features and modifications - set to be released on March 1st, the GRD will include a six speed manual or automatic transmission, as well as new alloy wheels and sports performance trims for the interior of the car - the boxer engine will stay unchanged, as far as we can tell at the moment.
For the FT86, we’ll probably have to wait for the Geneva Motor Show to get a closer look at the convertible, with the actual car possibly arriving by the end of 2013 - the convertible does seem to have picked up the code name ‘Open’, according to the most recent rumours. What is perhaps clear, though, is that the FT86 can’t really go wrong if it doesn’t change too much about what makes the GT86 so popular at the moment - any major changes will presumably be cosmetic and practical to handle the switch to a convertible, and performance specs should stay relatively the same.
Olivia is a passionate motor sports writer who spends most of her time on the road in or around Derby or in front of the keyboard writing. You’re likely to find her in or around one of the many used car dealers in the region, like Toyota.