• Oct 13, 2009
Toyobaru testing on the 'Ring – Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota's FT-86 concept, which will be officially unveiled at next week's Tokyo Motor Show, combines attractive, aggressive aesthetics, rear-wheel drive and a Subaru-sourced boxer engine with the hopes of injecting a bit of passion into the Japanese automaker's admittedly sterile lineup. And since the vehicle has reportedly been a collaboration between Toyota and Subaru all along, we've been anxiously awaiting the Subaru-branded coupe that is sure to follow.

Last week, we gave you an update regarding Subaru's progress with its half of the Toyobaru project, complete with a sketch-tastic rendering from the UK's Autocar. Fast forward to today, and although we can't be sure if this Nürburgring-circling, cobbled-together prototype is a Subaru effort or a Toyota joint, it appears to be a development of the FT-86 that we know is headed for production.

As shot here by our friends at KGP Photography, the little coupe is well disguised, but it looks like a Fuji Heavy project to us, as it shares some Subaru design hallmarks. Up front, the masked prototype takes on the basic shape of the WRX, with bold, bulging curves and a snub nose. There is no trademark Subaru hood scoop, but the big hood has a very aggressive appearance. Out back, the car's rump is also Impreza hatch-like, with a massive rear wing disguised by some heavy camo. It isn't at all clear that what's seen here is in any way, shape or form production bodywork, but we wouldn't be surprised to see the Scooby crew adopt a chunkier aesthetic than their compatriots at Toyota.

The basic layout of the vehicle also appears to favor motivation via the rear wheels, as the 2+2 cabin is pushed back over the rear axle. The Subaru will likely sport the same direct injection 2.0-liter boxer engine currently sitting under the hood of the Toyota concept. If the little boxer can indeed produce nearly 200 horsepower as has been rumored, we're thinking it will be solid punch for the Subaru, as the Toyota FT-86 is nearly a foot shorter than an Impreza and the spy photos show what appears to be a very small form factor. Add turbocharging down the line and we suspect you've got a tuner's delight capable of taking on the big boys.

Word on the street is that Subaru isn't quite sold on the idea of the Toyota-designed rear-wheel drive platform, which may or may not be able to accommodate Subaru's signature all-wheel drive setup. We're not sure that theory makes much sense if the two are collaborating on concept versions of the vehicle, and it would be difficult to understand how Subaru could enter such an agreement without first knowing whether it could add its trademark drivetrain, but we've heard this word ourselves from Subie folks as well, so perhaps Toyota is throwing some of its weight around.

Check out the high-res gallery below and our spy shooter's thoughts after the jump.



[Source: KGP Photography]

PRESS RELEASE:

We just caught Toyota engineers testing a prototype for the Toyota/Subaru joint-venture coupe on the Nürburgring, giving us a new real-world taste of the eagerly-awaited two-door. How much this prototype represents Toyota's production-intent coupe is a little cloudy at this point. It is definitely more advanced than the Subaru-themed coupe mules spied more than a year ago, and hints of Toyota's recently-released FT-86 concept can be imagined behind the camouflage. The headlights look like they could be merely functional placeholders for more sexy headlamps to be applied later, but they also seem to integrate quite well into the bodywork visible here. The same can be said for the tail-lights which fail to capture the svelte sexiness of the FT-86 concept.

It's rare for a car company to create two-stages of mules--it usually goes from the initial mule straight to a confirmation prototype--but it looks like this prototype may still have a little of the Island of Dr. Moreau treatment. At least we hope so. If the visible elements on this latest coupe prototype are indicative of the final design, Toyota will have raised the public's expectations with the FT-86 only to bring everyone crashing down to a more mundane reality.

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      IT IS A DEVELOPMENT MULE!!!!!

      The car won't look like this. This has hacked up bodywork and glass from other Subarus, plastic coverings, and everything else.

      DO NOT INTERPRET THE LOOKS FROM THIS MULE.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ^^Exactly what this man said. Further more, it is a joint project, why would Subaru test one mule and Toyota another?

        That is a completely retarded assumption autoblog. C'mon!

        Anyway, word is that even though the engine and basic platform are from Subaru, Toyota is doing the brunt of the engineering work. I think both versions will be great... I do agree however, that engineering an awd solution would indeed be beneficial to subaru, to help differentiate it's version more.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That thing better be a powertrain mule - if either car has those horrible proportions it should be canceled NOW. The greenhouse is like 1.5 scale! Nasty!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow.

      That is one chopped up Legacy and Impreza. and plastic bits... I hope those are the STI versions of those 10-spoke wheels... this car had better have STI's 5x114.3 bolt pattern. 5x100 wheels are too hard to come-by in the aftermarket, and dual-drilled wheels look bad.

      Forward front axle nixes AWD. Half-shafts can't magically reach AROUND the cylinder block, from the transaxle to forward-moved wheels, and Subaru doesn't currently have a divorced front differential arrangment, unless something has drastically changed.

      Plus a divorced front differential would interfere with their new implementation of front, low-mounted turbos in the Legacy GT, and the Boxer Diesel... which one would think they would spread to the rest of their line.
        • 5 Years Ago
        (Dear God, please use divine intervention so we can get a Mid-Engine/AWD out of this....

        Oh, and make the Yankees lose...)

        Amen.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That was exactly my thought as well, but you said it more eloquently than I ever could have. My post would have been something like "nose too short, can't be AWD..."

        I'm definitely interested in this as a RWD-only platform. Keep the weight down, keep it simple, and I'll get a set of snow tires for the winter. Done. Where do I sign up?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dig that low hoodline...

      Wouldn't put TOO much stock in this bodywork, but this whole concept is promising. Either the Toyota OR the Sube versions could be high on my short-list for my next new car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmm, I smell a Genesis 2.0T killer.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think the side profile kind of reminds me of the 1-series or even a little Z4ish.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was thinking a little Z3/M Roadster-ish in the design myself.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "toyota throwing its weight around..."
      well Subaru is owned by Fuji Heavy Industries as we know and Toyota owns as of April 10, 2008, Toyota increased its stake in FHI to 16.7% up from 8%...
      That is a big stake from one shareholder-
      but as far as it being a test mule, it is likely a drivetrain test a frame chop of a few cars cobbled together, they do it for all cars, this is in no way close to a production car shape.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Here's the latest impression of the Subaru 086a STi version

      http://www.ft86club.com/?p=25

      Pretty aggressive styling
      • 5 Years Ago
      wow i really hope the roofline looks nothing like that!
      • 5 Years Ago
      that is one super ugly test mule ! I hope the real car looks nothing like that test mule ! I cant see how the toyota could be so decent looking and this be so butt ugly as their the same car so i guess its just a mule hiding a decent car somewhere under that ugly mule of a beast!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Kill it quick! It's hideous!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Could not look more conventional. Not one new line anywhere if you ignore the thermoformed plastic camouflage. A real yawn.
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