Toyota 86 RC: Making it personal
Toyota sports coupe fans create their own cars
Shopping online is a way of life for my teenage children (and because of this my credit card is often on life support) so the idea of buying a car from a website doesn't faze them.
For Generation X and older, the idea that you can't literally kick the tyres of a prospective vehicle is abhorrent, but Toyota New Zealand reckons there's a market for sports coupe fans who want to create their own individualised car.
Toyota has just launched an online 86 RC (Race Competition) based on the popular 86 and GT86 coupe and priced from $33,986. It gives buyers the chance to personalise the car, adding accessories from the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) including a front spoiler, side skirt rear bumper spoiler and a high response muffler.
Buyers head to www.the86.co.nz website and they can accessorise their 86 RC at the virtual showroom.
The base model comes with the standard 2-litre, flat boxer four cylinder petrol engine (147kW of power and 205Nm of torque) paired with a six-speed manual transmission.
Once you've added all the extras and put in your order, you have three working days to head to your Toyota dealership to sign a Vehicle Offer and Sale Agreement (VOSA). It then takes three to six weeks to build your personalised 86 RC.
And, unlike my kids' web purchases, don't expect your local courier to deliver the car. Instead when it's finished being revamped at Toyota NZ's Thames plant, it's trucked to your Toyota dealership who then rings you to collect your customised car.
Toyota NZ's general manager of product planning, Neeraj Lala, reckons the online process allows customers to "see all the options available, giving them the opportunity to create their own personal brand statement".
"While a lot of people still want to see, touch and feel the car in the showroom, a large group of 86 RC customers will do most of their research online before they even come into the dealership," says Lala.
"Our innovative website allows customers to build their perfect 86, add factory TRD performance parts and packages, choose a colour and Toyota NZ customised an 86 RC for us, with TRD 18in tyres, the TRD skirt, bumper, muffler system and sports metre in place of a stereo.
And, unlike my kids' web purchases, don't expect your local courier to deliver the car. Toyota 86 RC
design scheme or select the wheel and tyre combination that suits them best. At the dealership, more local customisation is available before taking delivery of their personalised 86 RC."
If needs be, potential buyers can go into a Toyota dealership and get help to design their vehicle.
"Sales teams will be equipped with comprehensive 86 product knowledge and touch-screen tablet technology to help guide customers through the 86 RC personalisation process if they prefer to follow the process in the comfort of the showroom," says Lala.
Toyota NZ let Driven test its first 86 RC but had customised it for us, replacing the standard 16in alloys with TRD 18in tyres, the TRD skirt, bumper, muffler system, sports metres on the dahs and the tight-fitting sports seats.
Added to it were attention-seeking 86 decals plastered across the body and to make extra sure the car turned heads, "media car" stickers on the side. For me, this extra attention meant no honking my horn at bad drivers or "gesturing" at fellow motorists.
The base online model does not have a stereo system (so I had to sing to myself), no air conditioning (hey it's winter time) and no spare tyre.
The six-speed manual takes a while to wake up in the morning - demanding you hit 4000rpm before letting you get to second gear and preferring to sit at fourth on the open road. But once into the groove, the car powers into fifth gear with sixth for over the 105km/h range.
Built to look like it belongs on the race track, I know from experience at the official 86 launch last year at Hampton Downs that the manual loves the revs and takes the back straight on the track in sixth gear with ease.
Toyota has also had some 86 owners' track days over the summer - so expect 86 RC to join them this summer to show off their wares.
That reminds me - I must hide my credit card from my kids, I don't want to them to get any ideas on the 86 website.