To pay tribute to Hiromu Naruse (the chief test driver who recently died in a road accident near the Nurburgring while testing a Lexus LFA), Toyota is creating a front-engined, rear-drive model - Naruse's pet project. For this new model, Toyota will transform a hot hatch concept into a low-cost, rear-wheel-drive coupe.
Based on the GRMN Hot Hatch Concept, this new model was unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon at the start of 2010. It is engineered to have less expensive performance and appeal than the FT-86, which has been delayed and has had its price inflated ever since it was approved for production.
In an interview, Hiromu Naruse was asked what his young engineers sought to build. He replied, "A car that is a blast to drive and rear-wheel drive. And priced low enough to get younger buyers into it."
To keep the costs low, they developed the Hot Hatch Concept on existing platforms and engines. The model is based on the Aygo and it is powered by a Daihatsu-sourced 1.5-litre engine that drives the rear wheels.
Measuring less than 1000kg, this vehicle has a relatively sophisticated double wishbone rear suspension. However, it is expected to sell for less than 1.4 million yen (£10,250).
Toyota has decided to position a model based on these principles into its range under the FT-86. The GRMN team has been given the brief of "fun to drive and cheap" for the car, which is likely to be produced at the same factory in Osaka that builds the 660cc Daihatsu Copen.
Some predict that this model will do better than the FT-86 in the market. Insiders reveal that this model will start selling in 2012.