Matt Greenop: Japanese giants' new take on old concept

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Toyota's little GT 86 sports coupe is something special. Photo / Ted Baghurst.
Toyota's little GT 86 sports coupe is something special. Photo / Ted Baghurst.

There have been many cars released over the years that have started off as cool and gradually packed on the pounds.

It's always nice to get an early drive of a yet-to-be-launched vehicle - particularly when it's something as special as Toyota's little GT 86 sports coupe.

This rear-drive, non-turbo beastie, which will also be released as a Subaru BRZ, harks back to the great old days of lightweight sports cars that were built to be enjoyed without all the frills and creature comforts that larger, heavier, and ultimately less engaging machines. Releasing a car without such bells and whistles as cruise control, Bluetooth and a full complement of airbags is just not a reality these days - but the two Japanese giants have cooked up something that retains the old style spirit without diluting the experience. Now, to see if it lasts.

There have been many cars released over the years that have started off as cool and gradually packed on the pounds until their sporty DNA is hardly recognisable.

The most glaring example of this, I think, is the Datsun 240Z.

It had personality in spades - that long bonnet, the two-plus-very,very short two configuration, a willing engine and timeless design. Then it was followed up with the porkier 260Z. Things weren't looking up.

Following that with the even fatter and drastically redesigned 280Z and the gene pool was sufficiently watered down to make it borderline unrecognisable. After that it got even worse for Nissan/Datsun's sports coupe - and it took until the release of the 300ZX many years later for the trend to start to reverse. It is continuing with the 350Z and current 370Z, respectively, which is an encouraging sign.

- NZ Herald

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