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Toyota 86 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.6
Toyota's given its 86 sports car a shot in the arm for 2018, with new equipment across the entire range, and an enticing option pack. It should be sporty, fun-to-drive, chuckable, and affordable.

If I told you the Toyota 86 has been around for more than five years, you’d probably think I was lying. But it has, having launched in Australia way back in late 2012, and it looks like it’ll be around in its current form for a little while yet.

So, unsurprisingly, Toyota has given the 86 sports car a shot in the arm for 2018, with the company offering new standard equipment and an enticing optional equipment pack across the entire range. 

It’s fair to say the sort of person who is considering a Toyota 86 - or Subaru BRZ or Mazda MX-5 - has specific expectations. It should be sporty, fun to drive, chuckable, and affordable. Let’s see if the update 2018 Toyota 86 nails that brief.

Toyota 86 2018: LIMITED EDITION (SOLAR ORANGE)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.4L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$30,910

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The new 2018 Toyota 86 GTS with the optional Dynamic Performance Pack, that adds $2200 to the price, certainly looks a little fresher than the original versions of the sports coupe. 

You hardly see a single hachi-roku on the road that hasn’t had some mods applied to it, but straight off the showroom floor this looks pretty eye-catching - the rear spoiler isn’t to all tastes, but it is a good quality metal unit rather than a fibreglass faker. 

In late 2016 Toyota updated the look of the 86 with a revised front bumper as well as standard LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. It looks pretty good to my eye - perhaps not quite as hardcore as some might like it to be.

In late 2016 Toyota updated the look of the 86 with a revised front bumper as well as standard LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. (image credit: Matt Campbell) In late 2016 Toyota updated the look of the 86 with a revised front bumper as well as standard LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

The wheels of the performance kit pack are a distinct look compared with the other models - they’re a smoked grey finish, where the GT (on 16-inch alloys with Prius-spec tyres) and GTS (17s with Michelin Primacy HP rubber) have polished metal look rims. The wheels look particularly good because there are red Brembo calipers poking through the gaps.

The 'Dynamic Performance Pack' adds different 17-inch alloys. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The 'Dynamic Performance Pack' adds different 17-inch alloys. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

You can also now option the 'Moon Slate' paint option pack, in addition to the Dynamic Performance Pack, which has the stunning matt grey paint finish as well as black wheels, a black spoiler, black exterior mirrors and red leather-accented front seats with Alcantara inserts.

I’ll tell you more about that in the next section.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

It’s more practical than a two-seater, that’s for sure. Yes, the 2+2 layout of the 86 is really only going to allow you to use the rear two seats as a last resort, but I did that during my time with the car, when a friend slotted herself into the back seat behind my partner.

Now, the fact of the matter is that they’re both small-ish females, and I’m a not-so-smallish male - and there is literally no space for anyone to sit behind my 182cm frame in my driving position. Safe to say, they went tandem, yet neither of them were overly comfortable - headroom is very limited in the back, and legroom is tight unless whoever is up front is willing to get up close and personal with the dashboard.

Head and legroom is very limited in the back. (image credit: Matt Campbell) Head and legroom is very limited in the back. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

There are bottle holders in the doors, a pair of cupholders between the seats, but no covered centre storage (good, because you don’t want to bang your elbows when you’re smashing it down a twisty road). And if you have kids, the back seat even includes ISOFIX child-seat anchors, though loading the littlies in and out might be hard work.

And going back to what I said before, it is much more practical than a two-seater. During my time with the 86 I wanted to take home the Mazda MX-5 we also had in the garage, but I needed more space than it offered. It makes it seem even more advantageous considering all I needed to take with me was a framed artwork, which wasn’t very big at all, but there was bugger-all boot space and no fold-down amenities in the MX-5. It didn’t fit in the cabin, either. 

In the 86 you can fold the rear seats (in one fell swoop - no split-fold shenanigans here) to liberate quite a bit of load-through space, though the boot capacity when the rear seat-back is in place remains pretty tight, at 223 litres. There’s no spare wheel anymore.

The boot capacity with the rear seats are up is 223 litres. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The boot capacity with the rear seats are up is 223 litres. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

As part of the update for 2018, all Toyota 86 models now come with a better media system that comprises a 6.1-inch screen, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, sat nav, and 'Toyota Link' extended smartphone apps (including fuel finder, local search, weather updates and more - you need to use your phone’s data to use these bits). 

There’s still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, though, which sees the 86 - and all Toyota and Lexus products - lagging behind their competition. But at least - unlike some other Toyota models - there’s a volume knob and tuning knob rather than buttons on the touchscreen, which makes it a lot easier to make adjustments on the move.

All Toyota 86 models now come with a better media system that comprises a 6.1-inch screen. (image credit: Matt Campbell) All Toyota 86 models now come with a better media system that comprises a 6.1-inch screen. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

The inclusion of that new system saw the manufacturer’s list prices (excluding on-road costs) of all models go up a bit.

The entry-level GT manual version now lists at $31,440, a $650 hike over the existing model. The automatic transmission adds $2300, for an ask for the GT auto of $33,740.

Standard on GT models you’ll find 16-inch alloys, those new LED headlights and daytime running lights, dual exhausts, a reversing camera, hill-start assist, and that new media system. It also has ventilated front brake discs and solid rear discs.

The GTS you see in these images is the manual model, which lists at $36,640. The auto adds $2300, totalling $38,940. That represents a $150 jump, because the GTS already had sat nav, but the new system is still an upgrade.

The GTS model gets some additional kit, including 17s, a ‘Granluxe’ fake suede trimmed dash, black leather-accented seats with Alcantara inserts, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and push-button start, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a 4.2-inch digital display for the driver (with electronic speedo), upgraded front and rear ventilated discs, and rear privacy glass. 

The GTS model gets steering wheel-mounted audio controls. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The GTS model gets steering wheel-mounted audio controls. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

The big news for the 2018 update was the addition of the 'Dynamic Performance Pack', a $2200 tick-box that adds different 17-inch alloys, Brembo brakes and Sachs suspension. Our tester had that pack, and it influenced the drive experience notably.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

Under the bonnet of every 86 model, no matter whether it's the GT, GTS, or the Dynamic Performance version, is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder horizontally-opposed (boxer) four-cylinder with direct injection. Yep, the bottom half is all Subaru, and the top is Toyota’s work.

It pushes out a fairly modest 152kW of power at 7000rpm (the redline is 7400rpm, and it has a shift light to remind you in case the incessant racket of the engine isn’t enough to do so). Torque is meagre, at 212Nm, and it kicks in way up the top, too, at 6400-6800rpm.

The boxer four-cylinder produces 152kW/ 212Nm. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The boxer four-cylinder produces 152kW/ 212Nm. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

Of course it’s rear-wheel drive, but there’s the choice of a six-speed manual with a Torsen (torque-sensing) limited slip differential (LSD) and a performance final drive ratio (4.3:1), while the six-speed automatic model misses out on the LSD and is geared more towards economy in top cog. 

That Torsen LSD works to ensure there’s traction at the back by allocating power to the wheel with the most grip.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Toyota claims fuel consumption of 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres for the 86 GTS manual, which is a little more than you’ll see claimed by turbocharged compact hot hatches. But it’s an honest figure, and over a week of driving with some stop-start traffic and quite a bit of highway time, I saw exactly that: 8.4L/100km. 

That figure did rise a little when I went for a spirited drive, but not to a crazy level: you can bank on 10.0L/100km if you’re wringing its neck on a fun road, and more if you’re pounding it at the track. And while you may be tempted to add some rocket fuel to add some more grunt, the 86 actually needs premium 98 unleaded fuel.

If you just like the look of the 86 and don’t care so much about the performance, it may be worthwhile considering the automatic, which has much lower claimed consumption - 7.1L/100km.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

You’d have to be dead to not be able to get your pulse racing in a Toyota 86. 

There’s something about it that eggs you on, encourages you to try and take a sharper line through corners, one which might see the backside of the car slide out before you manage to catch it and keep progressing.

The balance of the 86 is brilliant - it’s super fun to drive, and while this Dynamic Performance version is a bit like the strict science lecturer rather than the goofy PE class teacher, because the Sachs dampers really sort out the body control to a nice degree. 

There’s less body-roll and more controllability when you’re on the go pedal, and the LSD really allows you to push hard in the twisty bits and hang on more than you might think you will.

The balance of the 86 is brilliant. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The balance of the 86 is brilliant. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

The best bit is that those dampers seem to help it iron out bumps in the road surface better than we recall when testing standard 86s in times gone by. It isn’t super plush, but it sure as hell isn’t unbearable.

The steering remains a highlight when you’re up it, with great feel and feedback to the driver’s hands, and a really nice weighting to it. At low speeds it can be a little cumbersome, with a biggish turning circle for its size, and parking it isn’t a cinch because it’s not the easiest to see out of.

My biggest gripe? The engine noise. It doesn’t sound as beefy as a boxer-engined WRX, and doesn’t have a pleasant raspiness to its induction or exhaust. It sounds tinny and mechanical, and not very nice. An aftermarket air intake and exhaust would go a long way to fixing that…

The engine requires you to rev it hard to get the most out of it, and while that may not be ideal in lower-speed traffic - it can feel bogged down below 3000rpm - the gearing is pretty generous. Our test car’s shift action was a little bit graunchy at times, but we picked it up with only about 100km on the odometer, and by the time we handed it back with 700-odd kays on the clock, it was a bit more forgiving.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

The Toyota 86 was tested by ANCAP way back in 2012 when the car was launched, and while it scored five stars then, the criteria has become stricter over time.

The 86 misses out on all the high-tech safety stuff you might desire: there’s no auto emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alert. 

What you do get across the entire range is seven airbags (dual front, front side, curtain and driver’s knee), a reversing camera, and hill-start assist.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Because it’s a Toyota, the 86 cops the same stock-standard three-year/100,000km warranty plan that has been part of its sales offering for aeons.

It’s backed by Toyota’s capped-price servicing campaign, too, with maintenance due every nine months or 15,000km. The cost per visit is $180, but in order to get those stamps in your logbook owner's manual, you'll need to set a nine-monthly calendar, which is a bit painful.

Verdict

The 2018 Toyota 86 with the Dynamic Performance pack is superb. The suspension is better tied down than the regular car, the brakes hold up better, and the new wheels - while not a game-changer - are pretty nice to look at. 

This could be up there with the best Toyota has managed for the 86 since its launch back in late 2012. But a little part of me still thinks if you get into a base model 86 GT manual and modify it to your tastes up to about the same money, you could be getting an even better buy - though perhaps not as plush.

Would you choose a more affordable 86 and modify it yourself? Or go with the more trusted option pack? Let us know in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$33,988
Based on 49 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$26,900
Highest Price
$38,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $29,913 – 31,999 2018 TOYOTA 86 2018 GT Pricing and Specs
GTS 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $30,880 – 36,888 2018 TOYOTA 86 2018 GTS Pricing and Specs
GTS PERFORMANCE (APOLLO BLUE) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $31,240 – 37,620 2018 TOYOTA 86 2018 GTS PERFORMANCE (APOLLO BLUE) Pricing and Specs
GTS+ 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $29,480 – 35,530 2018 TOYOTA 86 2018 GTS+ Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Design8
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving9
Safety6
Ownership7
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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Pricing Guide

$30,910

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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