Believe what you will.If you've recently read a story or two about the delay, or even the demise, of the compact sport coupe that Toyota and Subaru are jointly working on, don't believe it. That's the message from knowledgeable PR sources in Japan, who tell Inside Line that this intriguing sports car program is still very much on track.
Both representatives from Toyota and Subaru's press offices in Tokyo have recently denied the story. "The project is still on track, according to the info I have on hand," says a Toyota spokesperson.
What has changed is the production site. The original idea was for Subaru to build a completely new factory in Oizumi, in Japan's Gunma prefecture, to build the car. But the economic crisis has now prompted Subaru to can that project, so the Toyobaru, when it is built, will be made inside Subaru's long-serving Gunma main plant, which is now due to be refurbished.
The last report about the on again/off again sports car being developed jointly by Toyota and Subaru was that it's on again. Today comes word from L'Automobile in France that not only is the rear-wheel-drive Toyubaru going to happen, but it will arrive bearing the Celica name sometime in 2010. If Wikipedia is to be believed, this would be the eighth generation of the Celica, which traces its roots all the way back to 1970 when it debuted in Japan as an inexpensive rear-wheel-drive sports car. Through the years it switched to front- and all-wheel drive, with the final seventh generation Celica sold from 2000 - 2005 being a strict cart puller. L'Automobile claims that Thierry Dombreval, Toyota's VP of sales and marketing in France, spilled the beans on reviving the Celica name, so we won't consider this news solid until a second source comes forward or Toyota officially confirms it, neither of which is likely to happen. So for now all you Celica fans should just sit tight and light a few candles for your cause.
Another highlight of the Toyota stand will be the reveal of a project rumored to have been put on hold — the Toyota-Subaru jointly developed rear-wheel-drive coupe that employs an Impreza platform and drivetrain. To improve mileage and emissions of the current normally aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine, Toyota has developed a unique head unit for the boxer power plant, said to generate around 220 horsepower. Toyota will also display a full range of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as the latest EV and battery technology.
No new info about the car, with the exception of this new rendering.If this future car truly is a reincarnation of the AE86, Toyota and Subaru will have a big hit on their hands.
In fact, most of the engineering seems to be coming from the company known for its all-wheel-drive rally cars. Powering the future coupe will be Subaru's 2.0-liter flat-4 equipped with a new direct-injection system, tuned to produce an impressive 200 bhp and 145 lb.-ft. of torque. We predict the car will weigh about 2700 lb., so expect fairly quick acceleration times, probably around 6.0 sec. to 60 mph. The suspension will consist of MacPherson struts up front and a multilink setup at the rear, with the chassis based on that of the Subaru Impreza and Legacy.
Toyota will mainly be in charge of the car's styling. Although both Toyota and Subaru versions will be offered, the two models won't look much different, apart from badging — think Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe.