TETSUYA Tada smiles a lot as he artfully evades questions about the next-generation Toyota 86.
The project leader and ambassador for the much admired sports coupe, Tada (left) is a practised diplomat. But he isn’t about to let slip anything that might be frowned upon back in head office.
Push the right buttons and touch the right topic, though, and Tada-san will open up. Twin-clutch or direct-shift transmissions, for starters. He’s no fan.
DSGs won’t be considered for the next-generation 86, he declares unequivocally. DSG gearboxes are “in the past”, he adds. Yes, he agrees, DSGs are faster and more fuel efficient than manual gearboxes, but they are not the latest technology.
“There will be better automatic transmissions – faster, more economical and very sporty. Better than DSG.”
With paddles, of course.
Tada, visiting Australia for his third ‘Festival of the 86’ gathering, has already managed the nearimpossible by bringing a dash of passion and excitement to Toyota, a brand sometimes considered the automotive equivalent of whitegoods on wheels.
The 86 has been a stellar success globally, and Australia is the single largest market per capita, with more than 16,000 coupes sold in just four years (plus another 3500 Subaru BRZs).
Tada is a hero to loyal and fanatical owners, and probably to the beancounters back in Nagoya.
His ambition is to expand the 86 range beyond the present coupe.
A convertible concept has been around since 2013 and now the world has seen a Shooting Brake (wagon) model penned by Toyota’s Australian design team (pictured, below) and hand-built by the giant’s sports car division in Japan.
Four years after the launch of the 86 coupe, we’re still waiting for the family to propagate.
Tada hasn’t lost the faith. He points to the modern Mini family as his ideal template for an expanded Toyota 86 range. What kind of different models? “No particular ideas at the moment.”