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Toyota has launched its latest vehicle in a long line of exciting, driver-focused sports cars.
The new Toyota 86 captures the best elements of three key models from that rich heritage: the Sports 800, 2000GT and AE86. It also revives Toyota's passion for sports cars, not just on the racetrack, but on the road, with models such as the Supra, MR2 and Celica GT-Four. Like these classic Toyota sports cars, the 86 delivers pure driving pleasure and creates a strong emotional connection between the driver and their car.
Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Sales, Steve Prangnell said, "We've got a strong following for these cars in New Zealand, with the Supra, MR2 and Celica all sold new here. We're returning to the sports car market with the 86, with a model that brings together the best of Toyota's sports car heritage and the advances in technology from our halo models like the Lexus LFA."
While the 86 is being launched as the world's only car with a front-mounted horizontally opposed engine and rear-wheel drive package, it is not the first. That honour goes to the Sports 800, an inexpensive and easy-to-drive sports car that Toyota began developing in 1962 with a 790cc two-cylinder horizontally opposed (boxer) engine.
The combination of its boxer engine, lower centre of gravity, and front engine/ rear drive (FR) layout provided the Sports 800 with great handling and excellent fuel efficiency, enabling it to achieve success in endurance races. The 86 has adopted this classic architecture to provide maximum driving enjoyment.
The 2000GT, a 2.0 litre, straight six coupe was first displayed at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, and helped establish the company's global reputation. Considered Japan's first 'supercar', the 2000GT generated 112kW and could reach 200km/h on the track. Its elegant and flowing form was distinctive among car designs at the time, creating a sensation overseas, so much so that a specially customised 2000GT convertible appeared with Sean Connery in the James Bond movie, "You Only Live Twice" in 1967.
During development of the 86, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada placed a 2000GT in the studio next to the designers' clay model. The result is that the 86 is infused with the character of the 2000GT - notably the graceful side window shape, long bonnet and rear fender line.
Introduced in 1983, the Toyota Corolla Levin AE86's FR powertrain, responsive and high-revving engine, compact dimensions, light weight, good balance and power to weight ratio made it a popular choice for rallying and circuit driving - and more recently - drifting.
Known as the "Hachi-Roku" (or "86") in Japan, the AE86 has a cult following and has been cherished by many loyal fans over the years. The AE86 was not an extreme sports car; it was a moderately priced sports car with a mass produced engine. Its popularity was based on the ease with which customers could customise and improve their vehicle little by little.
The new 86 recaptures the spirit of the AE86 by delivering exhilarating driver involvement in an affordable compact car that can be enjoyed and refined by its owner.
The 86 also remains faithful to Toyota's long sports engine history with the boxer engine having a square bore and stroke set up of 86mm x 86mm. The legendary 3M engine of the 2000GT and the 1G engine of the Supra were both in line six cylinder configurations with a square bore and stroke of 75mm. The in line, four cylinder units in the Celica and MR2 had a square bore and stroke of 86mm.