Toyota 86 GTS vs Ford Focus ST

17 October 2012

Toyota 86 GTS vs Ford Focus ST

Toyota 86 GTS and Ford Focus ST go head-to-head in this comparative review.

Value

Toyota 86 GTS

from $35,490

The four-seater gets plenty of kit -- satnav, touchscreen audio with voice commands, Bluetooth and USB connection, limited-slip diff function, 17-inch alloys, LED running lights, HID automatic headlights, leather/Alcantara heated sports seats, dual-zone climate control and fully adjustable sports steering wheel.

Ford Focus ST

from $38,290

The ST gets Recaros, 18-inch alloys, leather-wrapped sports wheel, auto headlights and rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, nine-speaker USB/Bluetooth Sony sound with voice activation, reversing camera and satnav. Plus variable-ratio sports steering.

Design

Toyota 86 GTS

The long, low look gets attention. Well-proportioned rump with twin exhaust pipes and a diffuser. When you sit behind the upright steering wheel the GTS has comfy leather/Alcantara sport buckets. The two rear seats are somewhat useful but the Focus has a real back seat.  

Ford Focus ST

You won't confuse this five-door with a mainstream Focus. The interior is more versatile than the 86's and gets the full sports seat treatment. The dashboard and chunky steering wheel are too busy but it's a comfortable passenger space front and rear.

Technology

Toyota 86 GTS

Subaru's flat-four with Toyota's dual fuel injection produces 147kW at a lofty 7000rpm and 205Nm not much earlier at 6400rpm yet it's flexible. The busy soundtrack is augmented by an intake sound generator and conducted by a sharp six-speed manual gearbox turning the rear axle. Dance anyone?

Ford Focus ST

With an uprated version of the 2.0-litre direct-injection turbo four from the Ford Falcon, the ST produces 184kW/360Nm with a claimed thirst of 7.4 litres/100km. The only transmission is a six-speed manual. Electronic assistants include three-stage stability control and torque vectoring.

Safety

Toyota 86 GTS

Five stars were awarded to the near-identical twin Subaru BRZ. The safety features list of the "Toyobaru'' includes seven airbags -- dual front, front-side, curtain and a driver's knee bag, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control (with a sport mode).

Ford Focus ST

The newest hot Focus has a five-star ANCAP rating, with dual front, front-side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assistance systems, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

Driving

Toyota 86 GTS

It's not a scorcher in a straight line but the 86 GTS is light on its wheels, with sharp steering, rifle-bolt gearshift and great balance. On the right road or track, the driver can lead the rear end a merry dance without real fear of being bitten.

Ford Focus ST

More civilised than the 86 in traffic; the Focus makes better noise when exploiting the bags of grip, enthusiastic well-weighted steering and considerable grunt. Still some torque steer with which to contend. The ST will cover long distances in better shape.

Verdict

Toyota 86 GTS

Ford Focus ST

Two new-age hot shots: one boasts more grunt but delivers it all through the front wheels, the other goes for light 'n' nimble without huge outputs. Both will delight the driver but the Ford is easier to live with day to day.  

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Published 17 October 2012

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We compare, head to head, two similar models of competing manufacturer cars. Which do we prefer? Why? Find out in CarsGuide's Head To Head showdowns.