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Toyota To Show Green Sportscar With Subaru Engine

Besides showing off its well-known hybrids, Toyota will take a slightly different tack at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show to display a green sportscar with a special kind of gasoline engine.

The FT-86, inspired by a sporty Corolla model from the 1980s called AE86, has a Subaru engine from Toyota partner Fuji Heavy Industries, whose pistons are positioned horizontally, instead of vertically as in standard engines.

Subaru and Porsche SE are among the few automakers in the world making that type of engine, which allows for a quiet drive and a low-sitting mean look that's a trademark for sportscars.

Toyota chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said the ruby-red sportscar, debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, will appeal to car enthusiasts who remember the fun-to-drive "spirit of the 86."

It will be relatively affordable at about 3 million yen ($33,700), and it won't be a gas-guzzler, delivering the mileage of an equivalent standard car, he said.

"Technology has developed in sportscars so much they can be green," Tada said.

The Tokyo Motor Show opens for the media Oct. 21, ahead of its formal opening Oct. 23. Reporters got a preview of Toyota offerings, which also included a futuristic-looking electric car.

Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, is promising an electric vehicle by 2012.

It trails some other automakers, including Japanese rival Nissan Motor Co., which plans to start selling an electric car called Leaf next year.

Yasuo Kajino, a Toyota manager, said the FT-EV II electric vehicle, a concept model to be unveiled at the Tokyo show, isn't the 2012 model and won't be available for consumers for some years after that.

Toyota has led the world in hybrids with the Prius, now in its third-generation since its 1997 debut. The Prius is the top-selling gas-electric hybrid, racking up more than 1.4 million vehicles in global sales so far.

The automaker has long said it believes hybrids are a more practical green car solution because of costs and the lack of recharging stations for electric cars. But it has always had electric car technology. Hybrids are part electric vehicles.

Toyota has leased in small numbers to rental customers an electric version of the RAV-4 sport utility vehicle in the U.S. since 1997. It became available to regular consumers in 2003. Production was discontinued that same year, partly because only about 300 were sold.