Toyota exited the sports car game in the United States when the Celica coupe was discontinued in 2006. Although the automaker has given the green light to its FT-86 coupe, a new, less expensive, rear-wheel-drive car may beat it to the market.
According to Motor Trend, the late Toyota chief test driver Hiromu Naruse dreamed of a low-cost, rear-wheel-drive car aimed at young drivers. Since Naruse's untimely death earlier this year, Toyota began development on such a car: a hatchback based on the chassis of the Toyota Aygo city car, with an engine from Daihatsu. Toyota will reportedly source the 1.5-liter I-4 powerplant from Daihatsu, and may also have its Japanese subsidiary produce the vehicle.
Toyota hopes the rear-wheel-drive setup will be attractive to youthful consumers, and the vehicle is expected to tip the scales at a sub-Mazda Miata weight of 2200 pounds. Should it arrive in North America, it's poised to be the least expensive rear-wheel-drive offering.
Unlike the FT-86's price, which has steadily crept up to as high as $27,000, the new Toyota hatchback will likely retail closer to $16,000, and could beat the FT-86 to the market. Utilizing existing technologies and components, the hatch has the potential to be ready within two years, just before the FT-86.
In addition to the forthcoming FT-86 and new rear-drive hatchback, Toyota also confirmed it has started development a new iteration of its famed Supra. Should all three models become a reality, Toyota will be able to regain some credibility among enthusiasts. Would you consider a sub-$15,000 rear-drive sports car?
Source: Motor Trend