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Auto blogWed, 13 Feb 2013 14:29:00 EST
Because the Toyota GT86, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ coupes are now a reality, it's almost hard to imagine the struggle that had to happen within the large, conservative corporate structures at both automakers for the joint project to even get off of the ground.
Speaking to those struggles on Toyota UK's Toyota Blog, GT86 Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada enlightens us with a recap of the sports car's earliest origins. For Tada, the first stages of the project must have seemed almost as dreamlike as the final product is to drive.
Said the Chief, "I had been working in the minivan department engineering new product, but a month after the meeting I was summoned. 'Forget about minivans,' they said, 'you are now working on the sports-car project.'"
Okay, folks - it appears we've got a problem. The Toyota GT86, Europe's counterpart to our own beloved Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S coupes, is apparently not selling too well. This, according to Toyota's European Vice President of Research and Development, Gerald Killman, is what's limiting plans for additional variants of the rear-drive coupe.
"A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people's wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify a business case to push either model into production based on the current sales," Killman told AutoExpress. "Personally, I think that engine could use a little bit more," he added.
More troubling is that slow sales aren't limited to the Euro-spec car, with Killman claiming that the GT86 have been missing sales targets in major markets around the globe. It may not be that the US is one of those major markets, though. Scion's Vice President, Doug Murtha, tells Autoblog that his brand is happy with the sales of its version of the GT86, the FR-S. 18,000 units were sold last year, which Murtha says is "generally in line with original expectations for the car."
The people at Toyota Motorsport GmbH have been responsible for the Japanese automaker's motorsports efforts since the 1970s, but since Toyota pulled out of Formula One after the 2009 season, the tuning shop has been developing a super sedan based on the Lexus LS called the Sports 650. Details on TMG's first road car have been scarce, but XCAR was recently invited to drive the 641-horsepower Lexus on track.
Here's what we know: the Sports 650 has enough power to sprint to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds, tops out at 199 mph, weighs over two tons and utilizes LFA brakes. Oh, and its twin-turbo V8 bellows like an AMG V8. That last part isn't surprising when considering TMG could become Toyota's in-house tuning arm - like AMG is to Mercedes-Benz. As for the bespoke body kit, fender flares and stacked exhaust pipes? They fit the car well and even remind us a bit of Lexus' other high-performance sedan, the IS F. Currently there are no plans for the Sports 650 to be made into a production car, but we doubt TMG is devoting this much effort developing the LS into a road-rocket for nothing.
Check out XCAR's video below to see the AMG-fighter wrung out on track, and then ponder what could be if TMG were let loose to fiddle with other cars in Lexus' lineup. Now that's something we could get used to!