For the next generation though, 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada revealed to TMR at the unveiling of the 86 Shooting Brake Concept that the distinctive Boxer engine format isn’t a key part of the car’s DNA.
Other engine options are under investigation and the Subaru-sourced engine could be switched out for the second generation car, development of which is in its early stages.
“Boxer engine doesn’t have to be a necessary thing, and what I would like to develop for the second generation is better quality,” Mr Tada said.
“There are merits to using the Boxer engine, so therefore, there is a chance we will continue using the Boxer engine and make a better quality car, or change the engine itself… it’s very hard to decide.”
One of the reasons Toyota chose the Boxer engine originally was to keep the 86’s centre of gravity as low as possible. Moving away from a horizontally structured engine, to the vertical construction of an in-line four-cylinder engine would likely affect that balance.
One way Toyota could potentially offset that though is with a hybrid powertrain system, using the added weight of batteries and electric motors to restore a low centre of gravity.
“We are testing hybrid 86 already,” Tada revealed.
“It’s very hard to come up with a hybrid 86 and still satisfy the existing users, because the balance is very delicate. Because of a hybrid, we need a battery, and then the weight will get heavier and the balance would change.”
When asked if the systems being trialled by Toyota’s engineers were biased towards meeting ever-tightening emissions targets, or simply delivering more power, Tada’s answer was clear.
“It is a sports car hybrid - both of them. Although it is very hard, each year we are improving.” Tada said.
For now though, the early state of the second generation 86 program means there’s much to be decided. The first update to the original 86 was revealed in March, and is set to arrive in Australia before the end of this year.
According to Tada that means there’s quite a few years of the current model’s production run left.
He also hinted that Subaru may not necessarily be the collaborator for the next generation car, but wouldn’t be drawn on which manufacturers (if any) might share the development program.
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