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Auto blogWed, 20 Nov 2013 16:39:00 EST
When last we checked in on our topless would-be hero, the Toyota FT-86 convertible had been reportedly placed on "indefinite hold." That was back in early October, not long after Toyota had trotted out the rear-wheel-drive canvasback to Scion dealers as a possible future product carrot if they decided not to turn in their franchises. And yet, we're here at the Tokyo Motor Show, where Toyota has taken the time to at least repaint the FT-86 Open Concept in "Flash Red," if not build a whole other car (the original Geneva showcar was white). It's enough to make our heads spin like a teenager on the verge of a breakup. Will they? Won't they?
At this point, we still don't know any more than you do - the last word we heard out of Toyota was not encouraging, although the story was that the program could still be fast-tracked if management had a change of heart. As the car has never been seen before in Japan, perhaps Toyota is merely extending its domestic audience a courtesy view before it lines this showcar in mothballs, or maybe they're still trying to make a decision on its fate and gauging public reaction on the homefront.
Interestingly, in a new story published today, Automotive News quotes Subaru brand boss Yasuyuki Yoshinaga downplaying the likelihood of a production model, saying flatly "We make the car, so if we don't make it, it can't happen." The executive went on to note, "Our engineering department told me that losing the entire roof requires a complete redesign of the structure. It would need a big change." Given that such a car would probably trade in rather small volumes, that sounds like a significant hurtle.
The performances of some Toyotas in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) regimen of crash tests leave something to be desired. Consider the small overlap frontal crash test: only six Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles have undergone the new test, yet all but one of them received a poor rating. Osama Nagata, CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc., says midcycle vehicle updates are in the works to address the safety issues brought to light by the IIHS test, Automotive News reports. He confirmed that the RAV4 is getting safety updates following its crash test performance last month, but he didn't name any other models.
All three Toyotas that were tested - 2013 RAV4, 2012-2013 Prius V, 2012-2013 Camry - received poor ratings. The 2007-2012 Lexus ES 350 and 2006-2013 IS 250/350 also received poor ratings. The only other Toyota Motor Corp. vehicle to score better than poor is the 2014 Scion TC. It received an acceptable rating in the small overlap frontal crash test and is the only recent vehicle in Toyota's line-up to get the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating.
The small overlap front crash test measures the safety of a car when its front left corner is strikes an object during an accident, bypassing traditional crumple zones, which deform in a way to protect passengers. In 2009, automakers were alerted to the forthcoming addition of the test, which was first implemented last year, IIHS spokesman Russ Rader says. They responded with differing intensity, he says, pointing out that Subaru and Honda started incorporating design changes early on so their cars would perform well in the tests.
It almost made it, but images of the redesigned Toyota Aygo have leaked ahead of its official debut at tomorrow's Geneva Motor Show. The new Aygo sports an aggressive look overall with a, um, mark on its face.
That distinguishing design feature aside, we quite like the angular headlights and muscular overall look of this little city car. The gaping trapezoidal air intake make the Aygo look more substantial, while swollen rear wheel arches hint at something sportier than your standard commuter device.
Sportiness, though, isn't likely to be a big part of the Aygo. As it's built on the same platform as the Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108, we should expect the same pair of gas-powered engines, which means at best, the Toyota will come to market with 82 horsepower under hood.