Toyota 86 Wagon concept shown, but retro FJ Cruiser axed
A FESTIVAL, a dazzling concept car and the retirement of a retro icon: it's been quite a week for Toyota.
Saddest news is the departure of the FJ Cruiser off-road SUV, production ending this August after 11,000 Australian sales since its 2011 launch.
Declared one of the most iconic vehicles in Toyota's rich SUV history, the FJ Cruiser scored many fans thanks to its modern reworking of the classic FJ40 model with its retro design cues and distinctive round headlights.
Toyota said sales expectations in Australia have been exceeded, with an average of 180 FJ Cruisers shifted each month since launch.
The first few months of 2016 has seen that average drop closer to 100 however, and with Toyota's large SUV cup running over, not least thanks to 2015's new Fortuner model, dropping the funky FJ isn't entirely unexpected.
The FJ's rather thirsty 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine - the only powerplant available - also limits the SUV's appeal in these eco-aware times.
On a happier note, Toyota Australia unveiled a global first with a bonkers but intriguing Shooting Brake concept version of its 86 sports car.
It sounds like it shouldn't work, but pictures of the wagon back prototype from its Sydney reveal shows its an attractively styled thing, if not quite as practical as conventional wagons with just the three doors.
It 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 four-seater 86 is a more practical sportscar than most, but the Shooting Brake concept extends this with more head room for rear passengers plus greater luggage space. Not a bad choice for weekends away and track days alike.
The Australian design team apparently remodelled only an 86's rear quarter and roof to create the fully drivable prototype, meaning the sports car's distinctive looks are retained.
Toyota has said it's a case of never say never, but there are no plans for 86 Shooting Brake production, despite it looking showroom ready. Toyota will gauge public reaction to the concept, so get hassling your Toyota dealer if you want this to become a reality.
The 86 wagon was shown in the metal at the third Toyota Festival of 86 in Canberra on Saturday, where close to 450 owners and admirers of the bargain rear-drive sports car gathered to celebrate.
More than 150 86s hit the nation's capital for the Festival, which coincided with the launch of the Toyota 86 Racing Series, a national one-make category held over five rounds of this year's Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Pro racers Glenn Seton, Steve Johnson and Leanne Tander gave race car passenger rides, there were drift demonstrations and a display of classic Toyota race and rally cars.