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Tuned Toyota 86 prototype unveiled

Toyota has given Australian media the first sneak peak at a new range of performance tweaks for its 86 sports car.

Despite the 86 -- and its Subaru BRZ twin -- drawing worldwide acclaim since its global unveiling in early 2012, hardcore performance fans have been crying out for a performance boost to the already dynamic sports coupe. The aftermarket has been quick to answer this demand, with a huge variety of power-up, handling and aesthetic upgrades appearing around the globe.

The tuned 86 prototype shown to the media in Canberra this week sports larger 18 by 7.5 inch (up from the GT model’s 16x6.5 and GTS’s 17x7 standard specs) BBS forged alloy wheels with staggered width 215mm front and 225mm rear '86' branded Dunlop Direzza R-spec tyres (up from GT’s 205mm and GTS’ 215mm spec) , plus specifically tuned non-adjustable Sachs dampers on all corners.

The 86’s standard springs, swaybars, and suspension bushes are unchanged, and all are intended to leave Toyota’s factory warranty unaffected, and to be made available for both new and used 86 owners. The grippier tyres and more focused dampers are likely to improve the 86’s cornering stability, while the 18 inch wheels better fill the wheelarches for a subtle aesthetic gain.

Chief engineer of the 86 project Tetsuya Tada admits that the upgrades are the first of many under consideration, and are intended to maintain demand for the model once the existing order banks are cleared.

Toyota Australia’s sales and marketing boss Tony Cramb confirmed the existing local waiting list spreads from 3-6 months, depending on model, colour, and transmission choice, and he expects to satisfy pent-up demand by early 2014. 

This first upgrade follows Tada-san’s statement at the Australian launch of the 86 last year: “The dynamic potential of the 86 should not rely on high-performance tyres, but customers who opt to buy high-performance tyres will be pleasantly surprised at the net performance gain.”

Subaru Australia have already put a toe in this water with the largely aesthetic S pack for the BRZ earlier this year, and the “tuned by STi” BRZ  tS that appeared online this week looks to take enhancement a step further with a carbon fibre rear wing, Brembo brakes and Recaro seat upgrades. Subaru’s production plans for the  BRZ tS are yet to be confirmed however. 

The new enhancements for the 86 were developed in Japan by Tada’s engineering team, so should rival any aftermarket alternative in complementing the 86’s basic engineering. Asked when the new hot bits might be available for sale, Tada-san refused to suggest timing or possible pricing, but asserted that they may arrive simultaneously with new exterior and interior enhancement options, across several international markets. 

Tada did confirm that the wheel/tyre/damper package has already passed Toyota’s internal quality evaluation process, and their availability is now up to Toyota’s marketeers. Owners seeking a cohesive factory-approved boost to their 86’s performance should keep their fingers crossed.

This reporter is on Twitter: @Mal_Flynn

Malcolm Flynn
Back when all cars burned fuel and couldn't drive themselves, Mal was curing boredom by scanning every car his parents' VB Commodore drove past. His childhood appreciation for the car world exploded during a three-year stint in the US, and serious questions were asked when he spent a good chunk of his uni career perfecting lap times at Wakefield Park. Mal got his big break scooping the VE II Commodore, before a stint at Overlander magazine and kicking off his online career with The Motor Report in its heyday. These days he's exactly the same height as Michael Schumacher and uses his powers for good at the helm of CarsGuide's editorial team. Mal proudly shuns brand allegiance and counts three young kids, an EH Holden, NA MX-5, KE20 Corolla, W116 Mercedes-Benz and the world's most versatile Toyota Echo among his personal stable. He also craves a Subaru Vortex, so get in touch if you know where to find one.  
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