Toyota Australia has unveiled a global first – a dramatic new “Shooting Brake” concept version of the 86 sports car, the product of what originally started as a secret “passion project” for the Australian design team.
The one-off prototype was conceived and developed by Toyota Australia’s Product Design team and hand-built in Japan under the direction of the global sports car division.
The Toyota 86 Shooting Brake concept, which adds a more practical hatch styling to the rear of the 2+2 coupe, has been revealed to the world in Sydney by Toyota 86 global chief engineer Tetsuya Tada.
Toyota Australia divisional manager national marketing Brad Cramb said the unusual “shooting brake” name referred to a stunning design that gives the four-seat sports car a unique flavour with more rear head room and luggage space.
“The Toyota 86 lends itself perfectly to a concept that expands its appeal with added versatility while retaining its sleek and sporty coupe styling and sharp, responsive driving character,” Mr Cramb said.
“The Shooting Brake concept is a classy option for active couples or a second car for families who want something different. Equally suited to weekends away as well as the track, it’s a car you could buy with your head and your heart.”
Tada-san said he was inspired to support the project when shown a one-quarter scale clay model during a visit to Australia in November 2014.
“I was totally surprised – and I liked it so much I arranged for my expert takumi prototype craftsmen to hand-build the Shooting Brake concept based on the Australian design,” Tada-san said.
“The concept car is a fully functional, driveable vehicle that has been put through its paces on Toyota test tracks.
“The nicely weighted and direct steering of the 86 ensures the car retains the involving drive experience of the coupe with a slightly more neutral feel in tight corners on a driver’s favourite road.”
Tada-san said Toyota wanted to gauge reaction to the concept, although it was conceived as an internal design study and there were no plans for production.
“While we never say never, and I would love this concept to become a production reality, it is very much a concept that demonstrates the passion within Toyota for cars that are fun to drive.”
Toyota Australia’s design chief Nicolas Hogios said his Australian design team engaged in enthusiastic debate about the extent to which they should make changes to the 86 coupe, eventually remodelling only the rear quarter and roof.
“Like kids in a lolly shop, we thought about restyling more of the car; however, like a good parent saying ‘no’ to too many sweets, we made the conscious decision to keep as much of the original 86 as possible, only changing what was absolutely necessary.
“The silhouette is still sporty, taut and energetic, but it’s more practical as it allows the roof to be used to carry surfboards, bikes or storage pods for a weekend away while the larger opening of the new boot enables much easier loading.
“As a result, we have expanded the appeal of the coupe while intentionally retaining the purity of the now-iconic 86 style,” he said.
Hogios said his designers relished the opportunity to work with the 86 due to their love of cars, especially sports cars.
“Designers are always thinking beyond their current project – our creative minds are always wandering,” Mr Hogios said.
“Many of us drive the 86, including myself, and we wanted to explore ways to expand its appeal while retaining the purity of the coupe,” he said.
Development began with a series of thumbnail sketches and some “photo-chopping” created by the team in their own time.
“Very quickly, we realised the car’s silhouette lends itself very well to a Shooting Brake theme.
“The standard car has quite a good-sized boot, so the Shooting Brake idea with a larger opening at the back makes it quite practical indeed.
“As well as having more rear head room and cargo space, it also enables an owner to use roof racks to carry surfboards, bikes and storage pods.”
The local team developed computer-generated imagery and a one-quarter scale clay model of the Shooting Brake concept. They presented these to Tada-san, who was keen to see what the Australian design team could do with the 86, when he visited Australia in November 2014.
“Tada-san was impressed, not only with the design execution but also with the way we intentionally maintained the purity of the now-iconic 86 style by limiting our changes to the rear quarter and roof. We simply broadened the window of its appeal – sharing the love with a wider audience, so to speak.”
The Australian team fine-tuned its design and sent a fresh scale model to the global company’s Sports Car Division in Japan.
Tada-san involved his expert “takumi” craftsman to hand-build a functioning prototype using a manual high-grade car taken from the production line.
“In a normal design process, it could take years from when a design is approved to when you can get behind the wheel. Not so here. In a matter of months, we were able to assess the visibility and useability of a real car and see it being driven on a test track.
“The collaboration between our team, Tada-san, his craftsmen and the Sports Car Division was brilliant.
“The result is a Shooting Brake concept that would appeal to active couples or families, perhaps as their second car.
“For a driver who is keen to enjoy the 86 sporting potential, the added practicality could make it easier to negotiate permission from their loved ones to buy one!”