Toyota is already hard at work evaluating a high performance version of the new Toyota GT 86 sporting coupe. Chief engineer Tetsuo Tada revealed at the Tokyo Auto Show that not only is a supercharged GT 86 envisaged, test cars have already been made and are being evaluated by Toyota Racing Developments, the Japanese giant's in-house tuning division.
Tada favors the supercharger approach because it is simpler to achieve than increasing engine size and doesn't wreck throttle response as turbocharging might. Toyota says that turbocharging along with four-wheel drive and wide tires are what make sports cars boring to drive. Supercharging is also a key competence for TRD, which has been offering this kind of forced induction as an aftermarket kit for Toyotas since 1998.
Tada would not be drawn on what kind of power a supercharged GT 86 might develop but Toyota is known to consider the car's chassis could easily handle an additional 50hp to go with the 197hp already generated by its Subaru 2-liter flat-four motor, a view with which, having driven the car, we wholly concur. However, he says the TRD is also looking at ways of modifying the suspension to cope with the extra power, raising the possibility of a still more substantial power hike.
TRD's most popular supercharger conversion is applied to the Tacoma pickup, boosting its 4-liter V6 engine from 233hp to 301hp – suggesting that a 280hp GT 86 with, critically, a massive boost in the low down torque the car currently lacks would be easily achieved. Even if all the modifications added 220lbs to the weight of the car, its power to weight ratio would still at least equal that of the 326hp Nissan 370Z, a car capable of hitting 62mph from rest in 5.3sec and recording a top speed of 155mph. The standard GT 86 needs around 6.8sec and does 143mph. It is not yet known whether, if approved, the supercharged GT 86 would be offered as an aftermarket pack or as a model in its own right.
Tada also confirmed that it was so important to his team that even the standard GT 86 drifted properly that special tests were incorporated into the car's development program specifically for this purpose, "the first time this has ever been done on any Toyota."