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Friday
Mar082013

Topless in Geneva

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Drop Top Scion…

Toyota’s FT-86 Open, while claiming to be a concept meant to test desire for a convertible version of the company’s GT-86 (Scion FR-S) sport coupe, is nothing less than a thinly disguised version of what we’ll see on the road next year. With external dimensions that match those of the coupe, a weight of 2,771 lb, and a fabric top with glass rear window, the 2+2 is the strongest competitor Mazda’s two-seat Miata has seen since its inception, even though the Toyota has room for four.

The multi-layer roof folds down behind the fixed rear seats, and Toyota claims it has minimal impact on luggage space. Moreover, though the company says it is evaluating areas that may need further work, the GT-86/FR-S was planned from the start for a convertible sibling. Thus, the work necessary to ready a drop top variant should be minimal.

One thing that won’t be making the move to production is the color scheme. Developed by Toyota Boshku Milan Design, the bright white/navy blue color palette was chosen to “capture the spirit and atmosphere of Milan [Italy], one of the world’s leading centers for fashion and design.” The perforated white leather upholstery is laid over a blue backing, and highlighted by golden yellow accent stitching that matches the carpets. Considering the GT-86/FR-S’s positioning as an entry-level sports car, this level of luxury is a bit more than one should expect from the production version.

… and (eventually) Buick

Insiders say it will be once the Opel/Vauxhall Cascada makes its way to the U.S next year. Buick has been looking for an affordable halo car for its lineup, and the Buick Verano/Chevy Cruze-based Cascada is it. Unlike the European model, which comes with a choice of a 1.4- and 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline or 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel, Buick’s version of the luxury four-seat convertible will drop these engines in favor of the Verano’s current powertrain lineup. That means a 180-hp naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four cylinder or a 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter under the hood. Six-speed manual transmissions will be offered, but only the turbo motor will offer the option of a manual gearbox.

For a car built on such a humble platform, the Cascada is aimed at Audi’s A5 Cabrio. The soon to be Buick is 185 inches long and 72.4 inches wide, making the four-seater slightly longer and wider than the Audi. Like that car, it has a fabric roof — available in three colors, to go with the 10 body colors — instead of a folding hardtop of some competitors. It also features optional heated and cooled Nappa-leather seats, a 12.4 ft3 trunk (9.9 ft3 with the top down), and rear seats split 50:50 that can be electrically folded.

GM uses its HiPer (high performance) MacPherson front strut setup, rack-mounted electric power steering system, and computer-controlled dampers on the Cascada. Tires range in size from 18 to 20 inches, and the maximum brake disc sizes are 12.83 (front) and 12.80 inches (rear). But despite these performance upgrades and a lot of technology (adaptive front lighting, front-facing camera, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, etc.), GM’s premium convertible does not offer the option of all-wheel drive or engines with more than four cylinders, though its turbo motor does have 39 more horsepower than the A5’s base engine.

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