Toyota GT86 review


What is?

The GT86 is a relatively unique sports car in its sector. Aside from the Subaru BRZ, it’s 99% identical, of course. There’s no turbocharging, very little chassis tech, and deliberately skinny rims. Its primary goal is not grip or luxury or wrap-around refinement. His main goal is pleasure.

His entire recipe is decidedly old school. There’s only one engine, a 197bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder, and it only drives the rear wheels, through a three-stage stability control system, but no complex rear-wheel steering or the like. while you may you have an automatic gearbox, you shouldn’t. The standard six-speed manual transmission is very good and much more in line with the philosophy of the car.

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You will work hard to drive this fast car, be careful. Peak torque, a rather skinny 151 lb-ft, only comes in at 6400 rpm, a few revs short of full power. But as long as you keep things above 4000 rpm, the GT86 feels usefully fast. And its modest power is matched by modest grip, so very often, especially when it’s dirty and wintry, you won’t want more muscle.

This is probably why the car has been on sale since 2012 without any power upgrades. Her midlife facelift brought a host of updates, though these were fairly minor. The suspension has been stiffened, aerodynamics tweaked, and stability control given an additional mode, while the headlights have become a bit livelier. The subtle kind of facelift that proved the car was quite prosperous in the first place.

While the GT86 is primarily a sports car, there are everyday tricks. It’s got two small rear seats – although they’ll happily accommodate smaller adults – and a decent-sized boot, while the warranty is huge and reliability must be a given. Those skinny, oversteer-inducing tires should also be pretty affordable to replace. Fortunately.

The GT86’s only real rival is the Mazda MX-5 (and its cousin the Fiat 124 Spider), and Toyota has developed a similar penchant for special editions. There have been TRD versions throughout the GT86’s life, with bigger wheels, stickier tires but still no more power, while more recently there have been special color editions, the recent Blue Edition adds a performance package with suspension and stronger brakes. And yes, always more power.

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Our choice of the range.

2.0 D-4S 2 doors

What’s the verdict?

The simplest and most exciting Toyota in years is also a real joy to drive.

Despite being relatively cheap, heavily guaranteed, and with bags of stock equipment, the GT86 might fail the showroom test, just not as shiny and handsome as a used Audi TT, VW Golf GTI, or Porsche. Cayman.

But that’s not really the point. There’s a wonderful depth to its engineering that’s well worth it if you love cars for the way they handle and the satisfaction they give you when you really explore their capabilities on a rough road.

It says a lot that Toyota took five years to update the GT86 and kept the changes so light when it did. It’s a fundamentally great car that may not look or feel particularly modern, but that’s the point. As the automotive world evolves towards plug-in East and autonomous thatit’s a line in the sand for good old fashioned fun.

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