Toyko 2009 Preview: Toyota FT-86 Concept brings back the Hachi-Roku

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“Toyota’s President Akio Toyoda has said the automaker is in desperate need of an excitement injection, and here’s the first dose: the Toyota FT-86 Concept.

Inspired by the Corolla-based AE86 sports coupe of the ’80s, the FT-86 concept was designed by the automaker’s ED2 styling studio in France and bears a remarkable resemblance to the FT-HS concept shown at the Detroit Auto Show several years back.

Since it’s a “concept,” Toyota hasn’t divulged much about the FT-86 yet, but we do know it’s powered by a Subaru-derived 2.0-liter boxer four sending power to the rear wheels. Toyota focused on keeping the weight down to improve handling and, according to one source, the platform is unique to the concept. The engine sits lower in the engine bay to aid aerodynamics while keeping the center of gravity in check, and the overall dimensions of Toyota’s new 2+2 are 163.78 inches long and 69.29 inches wide, with a wheelbase of 101.18 inches.

After the FT-86 bows in concept form at the Tokyo Motor Show next month, the production model will be shown sometime next year with sales beginning sometime in late 2011 carrying a sticker price somewhere north of $20,000.”

-Damon Lavrinc at www.autoblog.com

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Tokyo Preview: Subaru WRX STI Carbon doesn’t make sense

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“Subaru has announced a new version of the WRX STI that will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show. We’ve looked at this one six ways ’til Sunday (maybe seven) and we still can’t make sense of it. But, hear us out. One of the main knocks against the STI has long been that it’s a little too porky. But, when you base a performance car on a plebeian chassis, that’s the price you pay. Another knock is that the STI – while potent – is just not as hardcore as the Mitsubishi EVO, even though the EVO X is a little, well, less hardcore than the EVO IX. So obviously Subaru’s going to address these concerns with a special, lightweight edition STI, right? Well…

Meet the WRX STI Carbon. It has a carbon fiber roof. And a five-speed automatic transmission borrowed from the Legacy – no manual. And… suede seats. Yup, that’s it. Now, we like the roof, don’t get us wrong. Removing weight and lowering the center of gravity is exactly what the STI needs. But, a slushbox? For reals? Subaru says the five-speed auto is there to offer, “distinctive driving pleasure to a wider range of customers.” Ah, the old dumbing it down so you can sell more trick. Hey, it worked for Porsche (see: Cayenne).

Let’s see here, the last time Subaru tried this maneuver was in 2008 with the GE/GH third generation WRX. That went so well that Subaru was forced to relaunch the car twelve months later and rename to the 2008 WRX as the auto-only 2.5 GT. In other words, we just don’t get the STI Carbon. Maybe in a year’s time, Subaru will be forced to rename it the Carbon GT. That would at least make some sense. Right?”

-Jonny Lieberman at www.autoblog.com

PRESS RELEASE

IMPREZA WRX STI CARBON (Display model)

Based on the Subaru Impreza WRX STI A-Line model with 5 speed automatic transmission that offers distinctive driving performance to a wider range of customers, the Subaru Impreza WRX CARBON features the use of carbon material in the roof to achieve both a significant weight reduction and a lower center of gravity. In addition, the suede fabric used in the interior enhances driving excitement and pride of ownership.

RallySport Direct’s 2009 Kartboy Sale!

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