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.


Related GalleryToyobaru Testing on the 'Ring

[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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