Tony O'Kane | Oct 22, 2009

THE HEAD OF SUBARU AUSTRALIA has said it would be "unlikely" that the Subaru-branded version of Toyota's upcoming FT-86 budget RWD sports car (above) will ever come to Australia, citing the non-availability of an AWD variant as the car's biggest handicap.

The car, a joint project between Toyota and Subaru, has had a large amount of Subaru input in its design.

Based on a shortened Impreza chassis and powered by Subaru's naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre EJ20 flat four engine, the lightweight coupe differs from the rest of Subaru's local lineup by taking drive to the rear wheels only.

toyota-ft86-concept-02.jpg

The basic design of the car, with the engine placed far back in the engine bay, means an AWD version is unlikely to eventuate. This, according to Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior, means it won't fit in with the company's other Australian-market offerings.

"There are elements of that car (FT-86) that don't fit with our Subaru DNA in Australia," Senior said in an interview with Drive.com.au.

"The obvious issue is it is rear-wheel drive and quite plainly no-one is building an all-wheel-drive version at the moment so there is one key thing.

"We have hung our hats on all-wheel drive for nearly 12 years now, so why would we step away from something that has been ultra-successful for us and given us the highest share of any major Subaru distributorship in the world?"

While Toyota has already unveiled its version of the RWD coupe - the FT-86 - the debut for the Subaru-badged variant is still some distance away.

2010-subaru-entrylevelcoupe-11.jpgCamouflaged prototypes have been spotted undergoing testing in Europe, but pundits say much of the car's sheetmetal will be shared with the FT-86.

Powertrain and driveline specs will likely be similar to the Toyota too, however some speculate a high-performance turbocharged STi model may arrive later.

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