2012 Toyota 86 GT review

There's precious little difference between Toyota's 86 and the Sooby BRZ except for the two model range offered by Toyota - 86 GT and GTS. The latter has pretty much identical spec' to BRZ.

The 86 GT is thousands less at an incredible $29,990 and offers the same drive feel. You'd be happy with the GT unless one-upmanship is your bag. Besides, wouldn't you want a 'raw' driving experience in a car such as this - less is more.

PASSIONS

It's a great looking four seater sports coupe with rear drive that has almost instantly ignited the passions of a large buyer group, underlined by a recent alleged weekend sales tally of 70 units at one metro' Toyota dealer.

The styling has an air of Lexus LFA about it as do the lights at both ends. Even if it had a dunger engine under the bonnet, you'd probably be taken by the car's sleek lines.

ENGINE

86 runs a 2.0-litre, four pot, naturally aspirated, boxer petrol engine courtesy of Subaru with a six-speed manual or optional six-speed auto. A high-tech dual sequential fuel injection system with two nozzles per cylinder feeds mixture into the inlet port and also directly into the combustion chamber.

Atkinson Cycle phasing (late closing valves), 12.5:1 compression, variable valve timing and other technology contribute to the 86's 147kW/205Nm output on 98 octane. Both occur high in the engine rev range up near 6500rpm. It will spin to 7450.

CHEAPER

Though the "cheapy" of the two, the GT comes with plenty of kit like seven air bags, stability control with multiple modes, aircon, cruise, Bluetooth sound and phone with voice recognition, multi info display analogue speedo, daytime running lamps and a limited slip Torsen diff'.

But the wheels are only 16-inch alloys with a steel full size spare. Inside is quite spartan in the GT but that's OK - the seats have large side bolsters and the instrument cluster conveys as much info as is relevant. The wheel is chunky, audio is good and the driving position adjustable.

DRIVING

On the road the 86 feels pretty impressive if a tad lacking low down in the rev range. Turn up the wick and that's taken care of. The feel of a rear drive sports car cannot be overstated - simply, they are more fun than front drivers or all wheel drive models.

That's because you are being pushed rather than pulled along the road and the ultimate response to fast cornering is tail out oversteer - like a race car or a drift car. And the 86 copes easily in this situation. With a small flick of the wheel, everything snaps back into line.

The brakes are strong, the steering response super sharp and the chassis is solid as a rock. It has a firm ride as befits a sports car that could wear thin in day to day use on a rough road commute. It has decent performance particularly up above 6000rpm and makes a reasonable fist of the 0-100kmh sprint in about 7.5 seconds.

Something a bit sharper under the bonnet would be handy. Fuel economy hovers in the 7.0s. The engine sound is pleasing, amplified by a sound generator hooked up to the intake and connected to the car body.

VERDICT

We could easily find space in the garage for one of these and would relish early Sunday mornings - on our favourite stretch of winding road. We would probably eventually have it boosted either by turbo or supercharging. A car like this would be the better for it. Toyota or Sooby probably has one under development.

Toyota 86

Price: from $29,990
Engine: 2.0-litre boxer four-cylinder, 147kW/205Nm
Transmission: six-speed manual, six-speed auto, RWD
Fuel economy:  7.8L/100km (7.1L auto) 98RON
0-100km/h: 7.6 secs (8.2 auto)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price N/A

WHAT TO READ NEXT