The Toyota 86 coupe (above) has gone the way of many two-door sports cars: after early demand, sales fall away, leaving only the real enthusiasts to tickle things along.
That’s why Toyota HQ is rethinking plans to make more variants, including a more powerful coupe and convertible. A senior Toyota executive says the 86 has failed to live up to sales expectations in major markets.
Toyota’s European projects director Gerald Killmann says the company now doubts there is a business case for more 86 models, including the go-faster example and the soft-top, which has already appeared as a prototype at motor shows.
“A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people’s wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify a business case to push either model into production, based on current sales,” Killmann told British reporters.
He said Toyota was not sure why sales were lagging, because the 86 had received glowing reviews. “Personally, I think that engine could use a little bit more,” he said.
The 86 was well received worldwide when it launched in 2011-12. It appeared in New Zealand – and other markets – many months before its sister car the Subaru BRZ. It was only on the road here for about four months before it won the 2012 AA/NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild car of the year award.
The 86/BRZ was a joint Toyota/Subaru development. Toyota owns 16.7 per cent of Subaru. There was much hype around both cars, that their sharp dynamics would generate more powerful variants, along with a soft-top to challenge Mazda’s new MX-5 (due to be unveiled later this year).
The 86 was intended to add some halo to the Toyota brand and spearhead global boss Akio Toyoda’s plan to banish boring from the stable.
Toyota NZ quickly put its marketing and pricing muscle behind the 86 to offer a choice of models from around $39,990 – including a cheaper, stripped-out race version – and before long had racked up 200-odd sales.
The Subaru BRZ was limited to two premium models in NZ, manual or automatic and up around $50,000. That was always how it was going to be.
The deal between the two Japanese carmakers to build the 86/BRZ made sure of that. The production ratio was based on their respective places in the motoring world: big league Toyota would make twelve 86s to little league Subaru’s one BRZ.
As of this week Toyota NZ has sold 417 examples of the 86 in about 18 months – roughly 23 cars a month. Subaru NZ has sold 31 BRZs in 14 months – roughly two cars a month. That’s one reason why the BRZ is a factory-order-only model.
While it might be agreed that Toyota NZ has done particularly well with the 86, slower sales in vital global markets might mean that the current 86/BRZ coupe range is the first and last.
• The 86/BRZ is powered by a 2.0-litre flat-four Subaru engine equipped with Toyota’s dual injection system to deliver 147kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm at 6600rpm. Both cars are identical in size, although their appearance is different.