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Toyota 86 GT manual 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.9
Rear-drive, manual, two doors and a Toyota for around $30k. Every car nut on the planet should be grateful the HiLux you borrow from Bunnings isn't the only vehicle that fits this description.

Rear-wheel drive, manual, two doors and a Toyota for around $30k. Every proper car nut on the face of the planet should be pretty grateful the HiLux you borrow from Bunnings isn't the only vehicle that fits this description.

Even close to half a decade after its Australian arrival, we should thank our lucky stars Toyota has given us the 86, and not just another Camry or Corolla-based coupe called Celica.

2017 Toyota 86 GTS manual. 2017 Toyota 86 GTS manual.

Plenty of front-drive hot hatches have pipped the base GT's thrifty price since it first arrived, and even the topless MX-5 is now pretty close, but only the 86's Subaru BRZ twin comes close to matching the cheapest 86 for ultra-budget rear-drive thrills.

The fine balance behind the 86 formula means every update raises the eyebrows of purists, and November 2016 brought the most comprehensive revisions yet. Have they built a better 86 or have they jumped the shark?

Toyota 86 2017: GT
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.1L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$26,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

To the casual observer, the 86's latest update, particularly in base GT guise, looks like a simple head and tail-light job with a few extra kilowatts tickled from its 2.0-litre boxer engine.

Anyone longing for a turbocharged version or a stripped-out track special should probably stop holding their breath now, because they'll need oxygen to comprehend the surprisingly comprehensive list of tweaks that have been made.

There are indeed new head and tail-lights, with the former getting the same tinted treatment as the GTS so it no longer looks like the poor cousin in the 86 range. Both front and rear lights are now all-LED with a more high-tech look that should help stem the fitment of eBay alternatives.

  • The 86's latest update, particularly in base GT guise, looks like a simple head and tail-light job. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn) The 86's latest update, particularly in base GT guise, looks like a simple head and tail-light job. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn)
  • The 86's latest update, particularly in base GT guise, looks like a simple head and tail-light job. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn) The 86's latest update, particularly in base GT guise, looks like a simple head and tail-light job. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

The front and rear bumpers are also new, with a slightly more organic look to align the 86 with Toyota's more recent designs, but it's a shame to see the GT make do with the same bland 16-inch alloys it's worn since 2012.

It's a shame to see the GT make do with the same bland 16-inch alloys it's worn since 2012. It's a shame to see the GT make do with the same bland 16-inch alloys it's worn since 2012.

One rim that has changed on both versions is the steering wheel, with a smaller 362mm unit boasting the smallest diameter ever used in a Toyota. The GTS finally gets steering wheel controls for the audio and trip computer, but the GT unfortunately still does without.

The tachometer on both versions has been twisted anti-clockwise for glancing legibility so that the 7000rpm power peak is now at the 12 o'clock position, with 0rpm at six o'clock.

Under the skin, the rear of the 86's structure has been reinforced with extra spot welds, and a thicker rear swaybar is paired with revised spring and damper tuning all round.

  • The latest 86 comes with a space saver spare wheel to keep the boot floor flat. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn) The latest 86 comes with a space saver spare wheel to keep the boot floor flat. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn)
  • The latest 86 comes with a space saver spare wheel to keep the boot floor flat. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn) The latest 86 comes with a space saver spare wheel to keep the boot floor flat. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn)
  • The latest 86 comes with a space saver spare wheel to keep the boot floor flat. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn) The latest 86 comes with a space saver spare wheel to keep the boot floor flat. (Image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Nothing new here, with the same surprisingly liveable front quarters that house two removable cup holders in the centre console and bottle holders in the doors. If you can contort yourself while lifting a baby, there are two ISOFIX child seat mounts in the rear.

The very limited back seat space means any rearward-facing baby seat or passenger requiring foot room will require the front seat/s to be moved forward, which, unless you ride thoroughbred racehorses for a living will result in compromise.

The very limited back seat space means any rearward-facing baby seat or passenger requiring foot room will require the front seat/s to be moved forward. The very limited back seat space means any rearward-facing baby seat or passenger requiring foot room will require the front seat/s to be moved forward.

The latest 86 comes with a space saver spare wheel to keep the boot floor flat and optimise the tight 237-litre space.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

Toyota Australia had clung to the GT's headline-grabbing - and profit-eroding - $29,990 entry price for the first four and a half years of the 86's life, but has now relented with an $800 price rise to $30,790.

Given it now comes with extra swag like the limited-slip diff, multimedia touchscreen and reversing camera, we reckon the extra cost is more than forgivable. It still sneaks under the $32,990 BRZ and $33,340 MX-5 1.5 after all.

Far from a stripped-out special, the 86 GT continues to tick the big modern convenience boxes with leather steering wheel trim, single-zone air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio and the somewhat dated double-DIN 6.1-inch touchscreen multimedia system.

The GTS finally gets steering wheel controls for the audio and trip computer, but the GT unfortunately still does without. The GTS finally gets steering wheel controls for the audio and trip computer, but the GT unfortunately still does without.

Key reasons to step up to the $36,490 GTS are the GT's lack of dual-zone climate control, leather and Alcantara trim, proximity unlocking and the newer sat nav-equipped multimedia system.

The GTS also continues to get slightly bigger brakes, 17-inch wheels and a rear wing that we feel detracts from the 86's clean shape.

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

For 2017, the 86's 2.0-litre boxer petrol engine has been treated to revised intake and exhaust systems, modified pistons, a strengthened block with extra ribs at the rear and the now-aluminium inlet manifold is coated in a sexy red crinkle-finish paint instead of the old plastic Subaru/Toyota-labelled cover.

This all sounds worthy of a montage until you realise it's netted just an extra 5kW and 7Nm to now total 152kW/212Nm.

Any extra grunt is welcome, but the 86 still needs a heady 7000rpm to make max power. Any extra grunt is welcome, but the 86 still needs a heady 7000rpm to make max power.

Any extra grunt is welcome, but the 86 still needs a heady 7000rpm to make max power, and while the max torque is now spread over 200 more rpm, it's still only generated over a peaky 6400-6800rpm. If you're used to lazy turbo power, these rev figures will seem stratospheric, but this need to rev is a core element of the 86's appeal.

Helping to make better use of the grunt on offer is a final drive ratio that has been shortened from 4.1:1 to 4.3, and the Torsen limited-slip diff continues to make the most of both rear tyres.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The 86 has never been about saving the planet, and the 2017 model reinforces this point by nudging its official combined fuel consumption figure from 7.8 to 8.4L/100km. There's no stop/start or fancy clutched alternators here, which possibly contributed to our own 8.5L/100km dash figure being within a tenth of the new claim.

The 86 has never been about saving the planet, and the 2017 model reinforces this point. The 86 has never been about saving the planet, and the 2017 model reinforces this point.

It's worth noting the 86 requires expensive 98RON, and should be able to manage around 595km between fills of the 50 litre tank.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Climbing aboard the 86, you're still greeted with a sense that everything has been placed for maximum driver control and minimum centre of gravity.

Your hot hatch may have fancy seats and a swish steering wheel, but you're probably still sitting about 10cm higher than in an 86, and missing out on the sense of sitting within the car like an open-wheel racer.

The seats grab you like a suction cap and the rake and reach adjustable steering column means everything can be brought within easy control, for my 171cm frame at least.

The 86 is still one of the best cars on the market to go chasing driver's roads with.

Twist the key and you're instantly reminded that it's a Subaru boxer engine under the bonnet. On start-up, it does sound a bit like someone's drained the oil, but this soon settles down.

It's never the quietest car on the road, but it's not supposed to be. On top of the classic boxer thrum there's also a tasty induction rort that varies according to throttle and revs, and encourages enthusiastic driving by sounding best with healthy doses of each.

Even at slow speeds, the sweet electric steering makes you acutely aware of every cat's eye and expansion joint you cross, and the taut suspension ensures your rear end is similarly informed.

The fatter sidewalls of the GT's 16-inch wheels have always made for a slightly more gentle ride than the GTS's 17s, and while still stiffer than most other cars on the market, the 2017 GT is still more compliant than you'd expect.

Combined with the tight and accurate manual gearshift, there's an overall sense of connection  that makes it clear you're driving something a bit special, even when navigating the shopping mall carpark, but not with the same grating harshness as a Lotus Elise.

It only gets better as speeds increase and the corners become more frequent, as the 86 is still one of the best cars on the market to go chasing driver's roads with.

There's next to no body roll as you approach its limits, which are relatively meagre due to its famously efficiency-focused Yokohama Decibel E70 205/55 R16 rubber.

As such, it's pretty easy to give the stability control a good workout, but it does a great job of keeping you pointed in the right direction.

Its dynamics and accessible limits are what make the 86 such an everyday joy.

The previous VSC Sport mode has been replaced by a new Track mode, which is intended to improve track performance rather than just loosen the stability control envelope. Either way, it permits a bit more fun when you're pushing its limits, while still keeping you on the straight and narrow.

Given the right surrounds, the 86 really shows its true colours with the stability control switched off completely. It will bite you if you're silly with it, but the combination of that limited slip diff, tight chassis, precise steering, limited traction and your seating position right near the rear axle is one of the most entertaining scenarios you'll find on four wheels.

We're talking controllable oversteer here, not big smoky drifts, and the 2017 model's slight output gains matter little to the overall 86 experience. You may eke out a couple of tenths on a racetrack, but its dynamics and accessible limits are what make the 86 such an everyday joy.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The 2017 model carries the maximum five star ANCAP safety rating that all 86s have worn since it was tested in April 2013. The GT comes with seven airbags, stability and traction control, but lacks advanced safety equipment like AEB, collision alerts, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warnings.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

The 86 is covered by Toyota's standard three year/100,000km warranty, with 12 month/15,000km service intervals capped at a relative bargain $180 per service for the first four years or 60,000km. All pretty sensible for such an entertaining car.

Verdict

The 86 GT may not deliver its thrills in the same practical shape as a hot hatch, or as easily as one with a turbo attached, but if you need four seats (at a pinch) and crave rear-drive dynamics there's only one option available for just over $30k.

The 2016 update is a pretty comprehensive trim and tidy to keep it fresh, and while it's far from the newest kid on the block, it is a better 86.

Would you pick an 86 over a hot hatch? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$31,990
Based on 80 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$25,880
Highest Price
$39,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $25,880 – 26,410 2017 TOYOTA 86 2017 GT Pricing and Specs
GTS 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $26,990 – 39,990 2017 TOYOTA 86 2017 GTS Pricing and Specs
GTS Blackline 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $25,740 – 31,790 2017 TOYOTA 86 2017 GTS Blackline Pricing and Specs
GTS+ 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $33,777 – 36,888 2017 TOYOTA 86 2017 GTS+ Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Design7
Practicality7
Price and features9
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving9
Safety8
Ownership8
Malcolm Flynn
CarsGuide Editor

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Pricing Guide

$24,500

Lowest price, based on 10 car listings in the last 6 months

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