Whether the Toyota GT 86 has the long-lasting popularity that the Mazda MX-5 currently enjoys is still debatable at this point. After all, the former’s only been alive for a little over a year, while the latter has been around almost 25 years now.
But the early returns on the GT 86 have been very promising, a testament to the kind of popularity Toyota’s sports coupe has enjoyed in its short lifespan. It’s become such a hit that the clamoring for a convertible version has been deafening for a while now.
Well, Toyota listened, fellas. The 2013 Geneva Motor Show will see the debut of the concept version of a convertible GT 86, which Toyota is internally calling the FT-86 Open Top Concept. It’s called the FT 86 Open Top Concept and Toyota has gone on record suggesting that the model "previews a possible future development of the award-winning FT 86 sports coupe" with the intention of gauging the public’s reaction on how an open-top GT 86 will be received.
Incidentally, Toyota also said that a prototype for the convertible FT 86 is already being tested so we’re not entirely sure what Toyota meant about "gauging the public’s reaction." With tests in progress, that appears to be a rhetorical statement.
This review has been updated with new details and official photos of the FT 86 Open Top Concept
The problem with a convertible, especially when you’re dealing with a coupe that’s been designed to the hilt like the GT 86, is that it’s difficult to retain the overall shape of what made the coupe version sexy. To their credit, Toyota seems to have accomplished making the FT 86 Open Top Concept look similar to its coupe sibling. It does look more compact than what we initially expected, but overall, you can really tell that the dynamic styling of the GT 86 is also present in the convertible concept.
Toyota also said that the FT 86 Open Concept’s soft top of the is electronically operated, which could indicate a more flexible look that people can play around with when they’re driving it out on the road.
All that being said; the FT 86 Open Concept is a very suitable interpretation of what we can expect from the production model. Make some minor tweaks here and there - maybe some streamlined creases on the doors - and the convertible version should be good to go.
The FT 86 Open Top Concept’s interior looks a lot fresher and more aesthetically pleasing than that of the coupe version. Whether Toyota will use the same design on the production remains to be seen, but we have to say, the smart of use of white and navy blue colors with the yellow-gold carpeting adds a touch of class to the cabin that you won’t be able to get in the coupe version.
Most of the design, though, is similar to the coupe, including the alloy pedals and metallic accents. The only notable exception being the removal of the infotainment system in favor of a small audio head unit and some instrumentation dials. We get the point of Toyota wanting to make the overall look of the cabin more aesthetically balanced, but not at the risk of removing some functionality and entertainment.
We certainly hope that Toyota remedies this when the production version of the FT 86 Convertible is released.
No details have been given on the powertrain, but don’t be surprised if the FT 86 Open Concept is powered by the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine that the production GT 86 comes with. That one develops 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The numbers for the FT 86 Open Concept are likely going to be the same, which means a 0-to-60 mph sprint in the 7-second range.
Since it’s still in concept guise, don’t expect a price yet for the convertible FT 86. Having said that, we don’t think that it’ll be too far off from the $20,000-plus price set on the coupe variant.
Affordable sports cars has always been dominated by the Mazda MX-5 Miata. With the unveiling of the FT 86 Open Top Concept, Toyota is sending a message to Mazda that it’s ready to take the battle to its Japanese rival.
Needless to say, the FT 86 has a long way to go before it can reach the level of popularity the MX-5 has, but the initial returns, including the more modern design and the stout performance figures, seems to point to Toyota being on the right track.
Here’s the thing: when you have a coupe that’s universally lauded for boasting of a full package of looks, performance and affordability, a convertible version is an easy sell. Toyota probably won’t have any problems convincing people to buy the FT 86, even if it looks inferior to the coupe model. But it didn’t take a lot of shortcuts, which is a credit to the automaker.
They designed the convertible with plenty of touches attributed to the coupe coupled with a few modifications that we may or may not see in the production version. In the end, Toyota did a pretty good job on a car that has been as highly anticipated as the convertible GT 86.
- Kept the spirit of the coupe alive
- Aesthetically pleasing interior
- Looks like it’s fun to ride
- Less functional interior
- No price yet
- When’s the production model coming?
WORLD DEBUT FOR TOYOTA FT-86 OPEN CONCEPT
- Toyota to unveil new FT-86 Open at Geneva motor show
- Concept created to gauge reaction to possible development of a cabriolet version of the GT86 sports coupe
- Soft-top design allows 2+2 seating format to be retained, with minimal impact on boot space
- Unique colour scheme created in Milan to reflect the city’s world-leading design status
Toyota will present its new FT-86 Open concept for the first time at the Geneva motor show, a car created to test the water for the possible introduction of a convertible version of its globally acclaimed GT86 sports coupe.
The concept has been designed to deliver the lively, highly engaging and accessible performance and dynamic abilities of the GT86 with the added appeal of top-down motoring.
Its external dimensions match those of the coupe (length 4,240mm, width 1,750mm, height 1,270mm), with the fixed hard-top replaced by a multi-layered fabric roof with a glass rear screen. Inside it has the same 2+2 seating format, with the roof folding down behind the fixed rear seats, with minimal impact on the space available for luggage.
The show car has a special pure bright white and navy blue colour scheme designed by Toyota Boshoku Milan Design (TBMD) to capture the spirit and atmosphere of Milan, one of the world’s leading centres for fashion and design. The bodywork is finished in white, contrasting with the blue of the roof. Inside, the perforated white leather upholstery is layered over a navy blue backing, with golden yellow accent stitching and carpets.
The FT-86 Open uses the same platform and powertrain as the GT86. At its heart is the naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed 1,998cc four cylinder “boxer” engine. Equipped with Toyota’s D-4S direct injection technology, this compact unit is set low, helping lower the car’s overall centre of gravity, and is capable of producing 100bhp per litre. It drives the rear wheels through a short-throw, six-speed manual gear shift or a six-speed automatic – the latter with the world’s fastest paddle shift speed, just two tenths of a second.
As with the production GT86, it features MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear suspension to give a direct handling feel, instant response and a high level of control. The electric power steering has a quick 13.1:1 ratio that’s on a par with racing models, while large ventilated disc brakes fore and aft deliver excellent pedal feel for car control finesse.
Toyota has pinpointed numerous areas that will need further engineering evaluation to assess the impact of the cabriolet design on performance, vehicle rigidity, balance, weight and aerodynamics. However, with features such as frameless doors, the GT86 was designed with the development of a cabriolet in mind, which means the impact on structural rigidity by converting to an open-top design should not be great. Efficient measures to preserve rigidity are being analysed, such as the use of door lock reinforcements.
GT86 has a near-perfect 53:47 front-to-rear weight distribution, helping deliver ideal response to even subtle steering, throttle and brake inputs, and a low, 460mm centre of gravity. While introducing a fabric roof is likely to bring the centre of gravity even lower, further engineering analysis will be needed to match the balance of the coupe.
GT86 tips the scales at only 1257kg, thanks to comprehensive weight-saving measures, giving the car a power-to-weight ratio of around 160bhp per tonne This is crucial to performance, given the car uses an engine with a relatively small capacity. Engineering the cabriolet to be “weight-neutral” relative to the coupe will be a key area of study should Toyota decided to progress with the project.