2009 Tokyo Show: Toyota FT 86 Concept

Toyota introduced its FT-86 concept Wednesday, unofficially announcing its return to the mainstream sports car market.

“The FT-86 Concept was developed to give form to the intrinsic joy automobiles provide – things like the accelerator and steering exactly matching the driver’s intentions,” said Toyota president Akio Toyoda.

The rear-wheel-drive, four-seat FT-86 (“86” is pronounced “hachi roku”) is the result of Toyota’s collaboration with Subaru. Propulsion comes from a 2.0-liter boxer engine paired to a manual transmission.

Toyota has not provided any power or weight specs, but promises “racecar-like handling.” Its compact body – about eight inches shorter than a Porsche Cayman – bears strong resemblance to the Lexus LF-A, especially in its nose, but also has some similarity to the Nissan 370Z.

Although there’s no official word yet on the concept’s future, its interior and exterior styling does not appear far from production. Toyoda made clear his feeling that the company needs a modern successor to its Supra, Altezza and MR-S models.

“The fact that none of these vehicles is still being produced makes me, a serious car fan, really sad,” he said.