Subarus profile will get a much-needed boost when the BRZ is launched in June. The production version has changed very little from the STI Concept car that made its debut at the Los Angeles show.
The sporty, rear-wheel-drive coup has been co-developed alongside Toyotas FT-86 concept car. External styling differences between the two will probably be limited to bumpers, grilles and lights.
Under the skin, the two cars share most parts including the rear-wheel-drive chassis and the Subaru-developed 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine. Subaru hasnt released any technical details, but the Toyota FT-86 is rumoured to have an output of around 200bhp. The BRZ is likely to have similar figures, but a higher-performance version could also be on the cards.
Theres no word on prices, but wed expect the entry-level BRZ to be on a par with the Audi TT and VW Scirocco, which would mean around 25,000.
Toyota GT 86
What is it? Toyotas first driver-focused, rear-drive coup for years
Price from 25,000 (est)
On sale Summer
Toyota starts its push to create more emotionally appealing models with the GT 86.
The new coup is a joint venture between Toyota and Subaru: its version is called the BRZ.
The 86 in the cars name harks back to the Corolla AE86, a 1980s rear-drive hatchback with modest pace but terrific handling. The 2012 car follows the tradition with a non-turbo, flat-four petrol engine producing 197bhp at a heady 7000rpm, with peak torque at not far off those revs.
The power may be relatively modest, but the GT 86 is great fun to drive. We think it provides a level of driver interaction unknown in its class, courtesy of beautifully linear steering and excellent poise.
UK models will come to the UK in one spec only, with a disappointing automatic gearbox the only optional extra. Toyota hasn't finalised the specification, but says it will be fully loaded, with equipment including leather seats and satellite-navigation.
No number of goodies will stop you spotting that the GT 86s interior is sparse. The low slung driving position is sound, but if youre looking for an interior with the sense of occasion of an Audi TT, youll be out of luck.
Early hopes of a 20k starting price for the GT 86 have been dashed, but even at a starting price of 25,000, we think the GT 86 provides a lot of fun for the money.
Vauxhalls Astra is already one of the best-looking cars in the Golf class. The new three-door GTC variant is poised to take on the Scirocco, and the style wars will ramp up again in the summer when this neat drop-top arrives.
This fresh-air Astra loses the folding metal roof of the previous Twintop generation. Instead, Vauxhall is following the industry trend with a fabric roof; its lighter and easier to stow behind the rear seats, while maintaining a clean side profile.
Wed expect pricing to be slightly ahead of the GTCs, starting at around 21k.