I gave you an idea in the first post about how the car drives on track and dont get me wrong its a go anywhere car; can still enjoy it even when driving on the roads. Doing some 80 km/h feels almost like 120-140 km/h. With all honesty the driving experience was so engaging that the only things I was paying attention to were the track and the RPMs.
Arriving to Yas Marina Circuit to test and experience the Toyota 86 was one outstanding event. The day started with some introductions by Toyota’s Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada and Al Futtaim Motors Managing Director Simon Firth; along with an striking 3d mapping presentation about the car’s engineering and origins. We all nodded with appreciation and anticipation believing that after all these years something big awaits behind the wheel of the 86 and the result was what we have imagined.
The rest of the evening, right after the test drive, was made up of endless conversations about how impressive the 86 actually is with experienced race drivers (including UAE Drift star Ahmed Al-Amri), car enthusiasts and reporters with various driving & racing experiences discussing the matter with almost fanaticism.
We are talking about the one and only Nissan Figaro in the UAE and it is converted to Left Hand Drive.
The current owner kept the car for seven years so far but regrets the fact he neglected the car. Regardless we are looking at limited production car (some 20000 units) and this is perhaps one of the rare few that got their steering converted to the left side.
The Nissan Figaro was really something exotic back in the days; resembling a classic roadster design reborn on the modern platform of the Nissan Micra of that time. The car is not really powerful and would need a that 1.0 engine and 3 speed automatic gearbox replaced to get it going fast. The owner is ambitious about a drive-train swap; finding body, cosmetic and special mechanical parts would be a nightmare but this is not an everyday car.
I was hoping to shoot the car in daylight with a proper camera but I had no choice but to settle for the phone camera at night.
The Barrel Sprint competition really did gain a significant interest among local and regional petrolheads. This is the 2nd run (the first run took place during last Friday’s Final UAE Drift round) and things seem to have gone quite well being the first and only barrel sprint event in the GCC.
The race course is quite straight forward, just spin around three barrels and come to a full stop at a gate on the other end. There is merely a chance to go beyond the 1st gear and a really fast or powerful car apparently won’t do you any justice but fortune favoured smaller cars with a short wheel base like the Renault Clios and a couple of Fiat 500. Regardless, it’s all about the drivers’ skill and how they manage to go through the course in the fastest time possible and this is what made Barrel Sprint really interesting.
The Mazda MX-5, being the best selling 2 seat roadster ever made, is a good example of the classic roadster perfectly reborn into modern times. The car is not a popular choice here in the UAE compared to other places especially due to the distressing price-tag at the Mazda dealer.
Currently, Mazda is working on developing a new lighter more advanced MX-5 but that is not the only big news; Mazda & Fiat are working on settling an alliance which could yield to the creation of an Alpha Romeo roadster based on the new MX-5 platform.
Such move is justified as Alpha Romeo desperately needs a rear wheel drive roadster. It somehow is the essence of the brand especially after settling mostly with front wheel drive for some couple of decades so far.
The Toyota 86 is officially here in the UAE; specifically, being unloaded as we speak, at the Yas Marina Paddock. These cars seem to be the production model, unlike the preproduction vehicle we saw earlier at Motoring Middle East. I picked this photo from Toyota UAE’s facebook page.
The car will be officially launched on the 29th of May at Yas Marina with the attendance of Toyota’s cheif engineer, Tetsuya Tada.
We will be one of the lucky few, on that day, to test drive the car on track.
This is coming to focus especially because of the rumours that Chevrolet might kill its Rear Wheel Drive saloon line-up by 2020. Ford has the Mustang as their only RWD saloon once the Crown Victoria is completely out of production. GM’s Holden is still ambitious about maintaining the RWD V8 tradition but there are uncertain plans of whether their mainstream commodore (aka the Chevy Lumina) RWD is to be scrapped for a FWD.
This is a whole story about how car manufacturers are finding ways to keep costs down and fuel economy up. Front wheel drive domination will never stop as it is cheaper to build a FWD vehicle along with the added bonus of space, traction & safety since the whole drive-train is sitting in the front.