Toyota revs up its ‘cool’ car image by launching 86 coupe

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toyota 86 sports coupe
Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., right, poses with the company's 86 sports coupe. Photo - Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Toyota introduced a new 86 coupe model sports car as part of reinventing itself beyond its best-selling Camry sedan and Prius hybrid.?The Japanese carmaker has been under intense pressure to maintain its top position in the world, especially after the company has suffered several setbacks including recalls, production interruption due to earthquake and tsunami and flooding in Thailand.

The 86 derives its name from the AE86 Corolla Levin sports car and aims to be a car that ?evolves with its owner?. The 200 horsepower?model is co-developed with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. – the owners of Subaru brand.

The model features Toyota?s smallest steering wheel at 365 millimetres in diameter, a front design that evokes a ?predator about to pounce? feel and fuel?efficiency to match that of a 2-litre-engine sedan.

Toyota has been pushing to re-brand itself by focusing more on sports and trendy cars?ever since Akio Toyoda took over the helms of the worlds biggest carmaker. The 55-year-old President and CEO?drove a production prototype at a preview and said: ?The 86 is a great car that?s fit for driving on any kind of road. It?s compact and easy to?handle.?

?To keep cars exciting and fun, it?s necessary to have sports cars in our lineup. I want this car to create more driving fans,? the experienced Toyota executive added who has been with the company since 1984.

Though sports models contribute less sales volume and profit, Toyota is hoping its 86 model?will appeal different types of customers, including?young drivers, sports car enthusiasts and men in their 50s for whom AE86 Corolla was a passion.

Source: Bloomberg

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