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There’s no denying that the Nissan GT-R is an incredible performance machine, and considering what it’s capable of, an even better bargain. Still, it’s been criticized by many for being overburdened by electronics, for replacing driving feel with technology. In fact it’s so technologically impressive that it can make even the most inexperienced driver look like a star on a race track.

The Toyota FT-86, on the other hand, will very much be the opposite of this says Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada. In a sit-down interview with Bertel Schmitt of The Truth About Cars, Tada describes the theory behind the upcoming FT-86 sports car and a return to grassroots motoring.

“Powerful sports cars use a lot of computer technology so that anyone can drive and handle them. We decided not to go down that road,” he says. “From the beginning, the concept was to put the driver back in the driver’s seat, and to eliminate computers as much as possible today.” As a result, it will have a traditional six-speed stick shift and not some high-tech dual-clutch transmission. This is also the best indication that it will use a traditional limited slip differential, and not an electronic one. Stability control will be standard (it’s government mandated), but look for a fully-defeatable setup.

Tada says his team canvassed the target audience. “We talked to owners, fanatics, real buyers of sports cars around the world,” he said. “They told us: Speed isn’t everything. What they want is a sports car that is small, compact, light, and that handles just the way they want it to handle”

Besides, says Tada, “The super-super-super fast cars are only for the super-rich. Even most super-rich don’t want to buy them.”

Tada wouldn’t speak to details like horsepower, price or weight distribution, but did give one revealing trait, claiming the FT-86 will have the lowest center of gravity of any production car on the market.

Beyond all this, the FT-86 (which will be sold in North America as the Scion FR-S) will be customizable and tunable. While Tada admits he often cringes at modified cars, he’s humble and knows the FT-86 is about more than him. “It is not made for the enjoyment of the engineer – it is made of the enjoyment of the owner.”
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