The Good Oil: Toyota designers reveal 86 shooting brake concept
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What is it about the shooting brake silhouette that gets car designers so fizzed up? It would seem that, given half a chance, every black turtle-neck sweater-wearing crayon-wielder is eager to add a hatchback to their otherwise perfectly acceptable coupe design.
Now it’s Toyota’s turn; or more precisely the Toyota Australia Product Design team’s turn.
The team has worked secretly with head office in Japan to create an 86 shooting brake concept, which dispenses with the donor model’s shallow boot-lid and raked C-pillar in favour of an elongated roof line and hatchback arrangement instead.
Toyota Australia has stated the concept was created because “the Toyota 86 lends itself perfectly to a concept that expands its appeal with added versatility while retaining its sleek and sporty coupe styling”.
The Good Oil also posits that it was created because, in the absence of vehicle manufacturing, there are a few departments within Toyota Australia that need to justify their continued existence.
While welcoming the concept, Toyota 86 global chief engineer Tetsuya Tada has said there are no plans to put the shooting brake version of the popular sports coupe into production.
Although perhaps Toyota Australia’s national marketing manager Brad Cramb didn’t receive that memo; the language he uses in the press release suggests he’s already had the brochures printed.
“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,” says Cramb.
Well, the show car is allegedly a fully working 86 that has been subjected to internal shakedown testing, so who knows.
Toyota took years to admit it has built a new Supra, so will we see an 86 Shooting Brake added to the range next year?
No worries if not; there’s already basically the same thing in existence anyway.
It’s called a Hyundai Veloster.
So long FJ
And, speaking of Toyota, while one bizarre creation arrives through the garage door, another is kicked out of the window.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, especially when you’re a retro-flavoured oversized Tonka toy with crazy doors, powered by a heavy-drinking 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine.
Yes, after coasting along on fumes since it was canned by Toyota of America a couple of years ago, it would appear the stupid-but-loveable FJ Cruiser has finally had its day.
Unusually for an SUV in the current climate, FJ Cruiser sales have been decreasing. Global sales are down by more than 20 per cent over the past 18 months and Toyota Japan has announced production will cease in August.
Designed in the mid-2000s as a nostalgia-themed throwback to the iconic Land Cruiser FJ40, the FJ Cruiser was immediately popular in the US (the market its oversized Hummer-ish looks were specifically tailored for).
Cruiser, ya big lug
Sales started in New Zealand in 2010 and, although always a niche option within Toyota’s expansive 4x4 line-up, the squat off-roader with more blind-spots than a post-box found favour with enthusiasts. Thanks to its oversized tyres and high ride height it boasted decent approach and departure angles, matched with Toyota’s usual reliable off-road engineering underneath.
But the lack of a diesel engine option was always going to hurt its chances of wider adoption. The Americans weren’t interested and neither was Japan. Its short wheelbase made it an uncomfortable tow vehicle and access to the rear seat through those reverse-hinged “lifestyle“ doors made the FJ an impractical proposition as a family SUV. Once all the radio stations had bought one and plastered it with their promotional livery, the market soon dwindled.
But we’ll miss the FJ Cruiser. No, we’d never buy one, but we liked that it existed. And with the price of classic Land Cruiser FJ40s skyrocketing, a used FJ Cruiser is looking more and more like an economical option for a distinct, recreational 4x4.
Homer Simpson vs. Jay Leno
Ever since The Simpsons writers created an episode (Marge Simpson in: Screaming Yellow Honkers if you must know) devoted to SUV-shaped road rage back in 1999, the show has proven relatively reliable in portraying vehicles realistically enough for car fans.
Okay sure, Homer and Marge’s family cars are cartoon-mobiles and the Canyonero featured in the above-referenced episode is an amalgamation of
Ford Explorer, Chevy Suburban and probably a few other SUVs besides.
But Homer’s Plymouth Road Runner seen in flashbacks, Very Tall Guy’s Volkswagen Beetle and Apu’s Pontiac Firebird — to name but three — all look accurate.
Aired last week in the US, the latest Simpsons episode could perhaps contain the mother lode of quirky — and realistically-penned — cars, however. Titled To Courier with Love, the episode starts with Homer discovering a diminutive Morgan 3-wheeler while cleaning out his garage.
A Homerific jaunt through Springfield in the Morgan ends with comedian and car collector Jay Leno hearing about the rare roadster and offering to buy it off Homer in order to take to his “secret underground car depository”.
Naturally Leno’s cartoon appearances are framed with suitably interesting autos, including a Citroen DS23 Pallas.
Search YouTube (“The Simpsons, Jay Leno”) for a short behind-the-scenes video in which the jovial jeans-wearer himself gives a bit of background on the Morgan 3-wheeler and reveals that the Simpsons writing staff clearly didn’t know much about their chosen vehicle.
“We made a few corrections; like the original script said it had a marble interior. I don’t even know what that means,” says Leno.
To create each episode of The Simpsons
850 THOUSAND DOLLARS
Each of the six main voice actors receive in fees per episode
The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones as longest-running animated series
Homer Simpson’s annoyed “D’oh!” added to the Oxford English Dictionary