What's it like to drive?
I’ll put my hand up here and confess that I absolutely loved the 86 when it launched in 2012, and I wouldn’t hear a word said against it. I loved its steering feel, the way it rode bumps and the way it made the most of a modest power input.
The changes made to the 2017 version of the car should only have made those attributes even more acute… but they haven’t.
Springs and shocks have been tweaked, the front anti-roll bar is different, there’s extra steel in the bodyshell, additional spot welds throughout the body, and the traction control system has been retuned for more fun. So what’s happened to my 86?
In two words? Too soft. The precision of the first car has been chased out by Toyota’s desire to remove the stiffer ride of the first generation tune – a desire that’s backed by the fact that a whole different group of people have been attracted to the car.
Instead of young and young-at-heart enthusiasts, the 86 is seen as a new Celica – a small, easy to drive Toyota that’s a bit more interesting than a Corolla or a Camry. Those customers don’t care about polar moments of inertia – they want a comfortable ride.
They’ve got it; the second gen 86 is a lot softer in the rear, and despite stiffer front springs, it feels more compliant there as well. The edge has gone from the steering, too, which really shouldn’t happen in a rear driver.
Using a more sporting tyre than the Michelin Premacy HPs fitted to the car could cure some of the ills - but it won’t be enough.
As well, the changes made to the engine have made it sound awful in the cabin. Seriously, it’s just a racket of induction whine and off-kilter drone made 10 times worse by an inexplicably poor auto transmission, which lacks any kind of precision and slurs its shifts even in manual mode.
What happened to my 86?