Reports persist of secret plans for a hotted-up and turbocharged hero version of Toyota’s 86 Coupe, but, no surprise, the carmaker is keeping quiet on the topic.
Back in September, Japan’s Best Car mag claimed that a flagship 86 model was in the works, packing Subaru’s turbocharged 2.5 litre boxer and all-wheel-drive system.
But if new comments this week are to be believed, the magazine may be doing little more than selling headlines.
Speaking with US website Ward’s Auto this week, Doug Murtha, a senior vice president with Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand in North America, shot down rumours of any turbocharging plans.
Murtha would offer no specific details, confirming only that on the matter of a turbocharged 86, “that’s not something that’s coming.”
It is possible, of course, that Murtha is speaking only for the Scion brand. But, to offer a turbocharged 86 to other markets and not with the US-market ‘Scion FR-S’, would be an odd move - to say the least.
The executive also talked down the potential for a convertible version of the 86 based on ‘FT-86 Open’ concept revealed in March last year.
“On the convertible, we went down swinging,” Murtha told Ward’s Auto, adding that the company could not arrive at a business case that would make it a realistic project.
“[...] we looked at what we would have conceivably lost on the product and said, ‘We’re not going to even push it further.’ Nobody was more disappointed than we were,” he said.
Murtha also acknowledged that sales of the 86 (‘FR-S’ in the US) are beginning to drop off, down 23.2 percent in the US to 12,393 units year-to-date.
“You get 24 months out of those products and they tend to have a steep fall-off (and) we’re seeing a little bit of that,” he says.
He hinted, however, that some key updates could be on the way: “I think the challenge is back to us to do some interesting things that keep the vehicle fresh.”
It remains to be seen what those 'interesting things' will be, although a significantly modified and be-winged 86 has been spied testing in recent months.
Despite its huge popularity in Australia - the model’s third best-selling market in the world with more than 10,000 moved since June 2012 - local sales have also begun to taper off.
At the end of October, Toyota had registered 3607 year-to-date sales in Australia, compared to 5892 for the same period in 2013.
Toyota Australia launched an updated 86 range in July, bringing revised suspension but no changes to the engine or outputs.