Toyota GT86 convertible to make its debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show

Article by Christian A., on December 2, 2012

Toyota will unveil a cabriolet version of the GT86 this March at the Geneva motor show, according to sources. Toyota hasn’t yet revealed the complete details but it’s believed that the GT86 cabriolet will use an electronically operated folding fabric roof instead of a heavier retractable hard-top to contain weight increases.

It hasn’t been announced yet how or if Toyota will package the two small rear seats of the GT86 coupé. It also didn’t say yet where the roof will be tucked away without affecting luggage capacity. The cabriolet, which is significant in the US market, will probably keep the coupé’s 197bhp normally aspirated 2.0-litre engine. The weight gains would be minimal, lessening the effect on performance.

It’s likely that suspension will be softened a bit to handle lower body stiffness. Toyota hasn’t given the official announcement yet about the cabriolet. But according to Tetsuya Tada, the chief engineer of Toyota’s sports cars, a performance version of the GT86 is being worked on. Instead of using forced induction, the honed GT86 will probably use hybrid drive to offer additional boost without affecting economy.

Tada said that a GT86 performance hybrid, which can generate about 250bhp, is being developed in Japan, and may start to sell in 2015. Tada hinted that the test mule uses a super-capacitor instead of batteries. This is the same principle that pushed Toyota to enter a prototype race car and win in the World Endurance Championship.

After motorsport engineering pioneer GPRM completed the first chassis, the first GT4 racing version of the Toyota GT86 will be heading to the track later this month. A 2.0-litre direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder 'Boxer' engine, which was developed along with Nicholson McLaren Engines, powers this new car.

At a UK circuit, the GT86 will be shaken down before a schedule of European tests and the pre-season 'balance of performance' sessions that GT4 series organiser SRO had set up. GPRM and its directors Gary Blackham and Roger King are confident that the new Toyota will be a formidable GT4 contender.

Blackham said that the new engine from Nicholson McLaren can deliver between 360 and 400 bhp but the definitive output figure will be determined by the balance of performance testing. GPRM's Toyota GT86 is an entry-level endurance car that’s very cost-efficient.

The automaker started the GT4 project right after last September’s Britcar24 where the new Toyota sports car had a successful race car debut in the UK. Even if it’s not a works effort, the GT4 project has the support of Toyota GB, which is offering technical support.

New Toyota GT 86 is definitely the most compact four-seater sports car in the world, as evidenced by its dimensions -- 4,240 mm in length, 1,775 mm in width and 1,285 mm in height with a wheelbase of 2,570 mm. Moreover, the Toyota GT 86 is also a lightweight wonder, with its weight of 1,200 kg achieved by taking an array of weight saving measures. In addition, the new GT 86 has the lowest driver hip-point (400 mm) among Toyota vehicles. This aspect, as well as the flat-four format of the car’s boxer engine, allows the new GT 86 to have an ultra-low center of gravity of only 460 mm.

To note, the ideal static weight distribution changes depending on the amount of power that its engine delivers. For instance, the ideal weight distribution for vehicles with around 150 hp of output is a front-biased 51:49. Meanwhile, those vehicles – underpinned by a similar chassis -- with 300 hp, has their ideal weight distribution pegged at 50:50.

As for the GT 86, Toyota’s engineers have determined that its most ideal weight distribution is a front-biased 53:47, as it results to perfect responses to steering, throttle and brake inputs. This means that the new GT 86 offers the best possible vehicle behavior, as controlled by the driver. As designed, the powertrain, as well as the car’s driving position, has been set as low and as far back as possible to achieve this ideal 53:47 weight distribution.

Likewise, Toyota fine-tuned the car’s suspension, brakes and steering in order to optimize the advantages brought by its lightweight nature, low center of gravity and seemingly lack of inertia. As a result, the new GT 86 has unprecedented levels of agility, handling and poise.

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