Toyota Motor Corp. has started developing its next 86 sports car model with Subaru Corp., aiming to launch the compact rear-wheel-drive sports vehicle around 2021 with improved performance, according to sources.

The 86 (Hachi-roku) sports car will be produced at Subaru's plant in Gunma Prefecture. Toyota hopes the new model will attract new customers and raise its corporate image, the sources said Monday.

The new 86 model is likely to have an engine size of 2,400 cc, up from the current 2,000 cc, and will provide a lower center of gravity for greater stability in curves.

Subaru will sell a model of the newly developed car under the BRZ name that will be equipped with safety gears, including automatic brakes and could also adopt its Eye Sight driver assistance system.

The original 86, jointly planned and designed by Toyota and Subaru, was first rolled out in 2012. The car was named after the AE86 chassis code of the Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno coupes that gained popularity in the 1980s.

Compared with Toyota's popular Prius hybrid cars and C-HR small crossover sport utility vehicles that both sell over 100,000 units annually, only around 7,200 units of the 86 sports car were sold in 2017. The sports car has attracted core fans, however, due to its reasonable price and solid performance, with owners often exchanging information on the internet and getting together on weekends for drives.