This is very, very good news.
Understand this reality: Toyota sold three times as many RAV4 crossovers on average in just one week than the total number of GR 86 coupes last year. Normally, that would mean the end of a model like the 86. The business case simply isn't there. What about the 86's twin, the Subaru BRZ? The situation is the same. Subaru, on average, sold one and a half times as many Foresters a week than it sold BRZs all year.
Both coupes may be very low sellers but they bring something to each brand neither the RAV4 nor the Forester can do: excitement and passion. Automotive News learned from Toyota's vice president for marketing and communications, Mike Tripp, that "the reality is there is still a good-size market for individuals who love the joy of driving."
The carmaker is "taking what's been inspired by our motorsports and track experience and bringing that into a vehicle that's not only fun to drive but also at an attainable price point."
Sure, the market is getting smaller, but passion is still important. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda fully understands this not only because it's his job but also because he's an experienced race car driver. He's the one who made the decision to expand the company's Gazoo Racing division. He was personally involved with the development of the GR Supra. Overseas, there's the GR Yaris hot hatchback. As the industry begins its shift towards electrified vehicles, gas-powered vehicle driving enthusiasts still remain. Toyota fully intends to be there for them, and it's not alone.
A new Nissan Z just debuted and like the "Toyabaru" twins, it's rear-wheel-drive only and offers a manual gearbox. Toyota predicts at least 30 percent of 86 buyers will go for the manual while Subaru puts that figure at 70 percent. Toyota 86 buyers will also have access to a growing catalog of GR accessories. Both styling and performance-enhancing components are on offer.
The bottom line is that Toyota remains committed to purist sports cars, and gasoline-powered ones at that. Neither are hot sellers but they do provide something else no crossover nor sedan is capable of: sheer fun behind the wheel. For that reason alone, the program and production costs are worth every penny.