Toyota Plans Model Under The GT86
Toyota is currently considering a new compact sports car that could slot below the Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S twins. Internally designated 69DZ, the proposed new car would have rear-wheel drive and be powered by a 1.5-liter engine producing around 130 horsepower. While it won’t be winning many drag races, a curb weight below 2,200 pounds should keep things lively. Starting cost could be as low as $17,000, about seven grand cheaper than the GT86.
"Designers have a final prototype that could very well go into production as is," a source within Toyota told Motoring, suggesting the program is already pretty far along. The source went on to explain that both the tiny Toyota Sports 800 from 1965 and the limited-run, Japan-only GT86 Style Cb inspired the new car’s styling. “That’s why you will see roundish headlights and a large, signature grille on the new coupe," said Motoring’s source. "The finished product looks like a brother to the Cb.”
Unlike the GT86, the 69DZ will have an inline-four under the hood instead of a horizontally opposed boxer-four. The taller engine requires what is described as an accommodating “lump” in the hood, but the overall shape is said to be very sleek and incorporates flared wheel arches. Inside, is a 2+2 cabin, but the rear seats will likely be even more useless than the ones in the GT86. Transmission options will include a six-speed manual and six-speed auto.
Interestingly, Toyota has reportedly tapped four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen to sign off on the coupe’s handling. Despite driving for both Subaru and Mitsubishi during his career, Mäkinen has been lending a hand at Toyota’s Gazoo racing division.
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Why it matters
A featherweight, rear-wheel-drive car for around $17,000 sounds pretty great, but weather or not it will land on North American shores is still a pretty big question mark. If it does make it over, expect it to wear a Scion badge on its nose.
I found it interesting that Toyota is considering a car like the 69DZ. FR-S (and Subaru BRZ) sales have declined significantly in the U.S. in the past year or so, largely because of its perceived lack of power. Though the 10-horsepower bump and mid-cycle refresh we recently reported on could help stymie declining FR-S sales, introducing a less-powerful and less-expensive model seems like a risky proposition.
Monetary and corporate considerations aside, the 69DZ has the potential to be an extremely fun car, and I applaud Toyota for even exploring the possibility of a lightweight, low-power sports car that’s more about back-road fun than 0-60 times.
Read our full review here.