Mazda MX-5 2019 review
Mazda has given its legendary MX-5 convertible fun box yet another face lift, with most of the effort this time going on making its 2.0-litre engine more powerful.
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Cast your mind back to 2012, Carly Rae Jepsen’s super-catchy Call Me Maybe single was at the top of the music charts, the first Avengers movie had just hit movie theatres and Toyota’s 86 sports car finally arrived in Australian showrooms after a lengthy teaser campaign.
Fast-forward eight years to 2020, and Carly Rae Jepsen is still releasing bangers, the Avengers have become the zeitgeist of 2010s popular culture and... the Toyota 86 is still available in local showrooms.
But the 86 now competes in a market that has moved ahead in leaps and bounds, and while direct competitors like the Mazda MX-5 are few and far between, it now has to fend off competition from some light-sized warm hatches.
Does the Toyota 86 manage to hold its own in 2020? Or is it better off relegated to the annals of history?
|Toyota 86 2020: GTS|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Toyota 86 kicks off at $31,440 before on-road costs for the base GT manual, while the GTS version starts at $36,640.
An automatic transmission adds $2300 to the asking price.
Our test car, a top-spec GTS with all the options, rings the till up to $39,590 thanks to the Dynamic Performance Pack and Apollo Blue paint adding $2950.
As standard, the 86 comes with dual exhaust tips and LED headlights with daytime running lamps, while the black spoiler and side mirrors are an option available to the GTS grade.
The 17-inch wheels finished in black are also exclusive to this spec of 86, and the Dynamic Performance Pack adds larger Brembo brakes and Sachs suspension (more on those later).
Inside, the 86 is fitted with a black leather interior, sports seats with Alcantara inserts, Alcantara touches on the dashboard and door trims, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, 4.2-inch multi-function driver display, push-button start, floor mats and three-spoke multifunction steering wheel.
The multimedia system is displayed on a 6.1-inch colour touchscreen, and includes features such as Bluetooth connectivity, USB input and satellite navigation.
No doubt this version of the 86 wears a sizeable pricetag, one that puts it right in contention amongst faster and more practical hot hatches like the Hyundai i30 N, though how much value you put in a coupe body-style and rear-drive dynamics is up to you.
Compared to something like the 2.0-litre MX-5 though, which starts at $43,820, the 86 looks much more attractive, but again, this is not taking into consideration the Mazda’s convertible party piece.
There’s no denying Toyota’s 86 boasts classic sports car proportions thanks to a long bonnet, short overhangs and a sleek coupe body-style.
Though some things have changed since the model first came to market in 2012, such as revised bumpers and lights, the 86 is just as recognisable today as it was back then.
From the front, the 86 gives off a purposeful and aggressive stance thanks to its angled headlights, gaping intake and bulging arches.
Move to the side and you will see the wheelbase stretches nearly to the edges of the car, while a strong shoulder- and roofline join at the rear haunches to emphasise the 86’s rear-drive character.
The rear end is probable the least favourable angle for the 86, but the wide tail-lights, large diffuser and dual-exhaust outlets add to its sporting character.
Our test car was fitted in the eye-catching Apollo Blue colour, as well as 17-inch wheels, mirror caps and a rear spoiler finished in black.
After eight years on the market, we still think the 86 is one of the better-looking sports cars on the market, largely thanks to its purposeful and no-frills approach to styling.
It’s not quite as over-the-top as something like a Honda Civic Type R, but you still know it means business if it showed up to a track day.
Step inside though, and the cabin has not aged as well as the exterior.
The centre stack houses a 6.1-inch multimedia touchscreen that looks like it was picked out at a Repco sale, while you can practically see the pixels on the digital clock and temperature readout screens.
It’s not all bad though, as the chunky switchgear and large push-button starter add a little character to the interior.
We also like the instrumentation, which puts the tachometer front and centre for the driver while also incorporating a 4.2-inch display to add a bit of modernity.
Measuring 4240mm long, 1775mm wide, 1320mm tall and with a 2570mm wheelbase, the 86 coupe is dimensionally smaller in every measure to its Corolla hatchback sibling.
Despite this, Toyota says there is enough seating for four, but the 86 is much closer to a 2+2 than it is to a proper four-seater.
Front occupant space is ample enough, with plenty of adjustable in the seat and steering column for drivers to get into the perfect position.
There’s cupholders in the centre console, storage and the door pockets will even take a water bottle.
Front occupants also have access to a very, very small tray just in front of the shifter, though what it could accommodate is unknown.
We will also mention that when in odd-numbered gears, it can get tricky to use the climate controls, though it wouldn’t be a problem in auto-equipped cars.
Flick the front seats forward, contort yourself into the rear and, well, its more akin to a medieval torture device than passenger-friendly seating.
Headroom is especially limited, though we were surprised with the better-than-expected legroom due to the bucket-shape of the rear seats.
Don’t expect any mod-cons in the rear though, as the only thing to keep yourself entertained back there is the seat belt.
The boot accommodates just 237 litres of volume, which is just about enough to fit a large suitcase, though because of the short space, it will have to go in sideways leaving not a lot of room for much else.
Boot floor is also quite high, meaning tall objects will struggle to fit, but the rear seats can be folded flat to accommodate longer items.
While early versions of the 86 came with a spare wheel, in 2020, all new cars come with a puncture-repair kit.
Automatic transmission versions are downgraded to 147kW/205Nm.
Peak power comes in at a heady 7000rpm, while maximum torque is available from 6400-6600rpm for both manual and automatic versions.
Tipping the scales at around 1258kg means the manual 86 can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds, while the automatic version is 0.6s slower to the landmark time.
Official fuel-consumption figures for the 86 is 8.4 litres per 100km with the six-speed manual.
However, we managed an 8.3L/100km figure after a week’s worth of driving, which is especially impressive given most of our time was spent in Melbourne’s inner-city.
Of note, the 86 requires 98 RON petrol.
The Toyota 86 carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating and was crash-tested in 2012.
It scored 34.4 points out of a maximum of 37, with excellent 94 and 96 per cent results in the frontal offset and side impact tests respectively.
However, ANCAP standards have since moved on, and mandates the standard inclusion of driving assistance technologies such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) for a five-star result.
The Toyota 86 is not fitted with AEB as standard, nor is it available as an option, but does come fitted with cruise control, reversing camera, hill-start assist and seven airbags.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Like all new Toyota vehicles, the 86 comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is also accompanied by a seven-year anti-corrosion assurance.
The first service is due in the first month of ownership and is free, while scheduled servicing is usually every 15,000km/nine months, which every comes first.
Each of the next four services covering up to 36 months/60,000km is capped at $200 per servicing, while the next service rises to $391, $1860 and $391
Therefore, the first 63 months/105,000km of ownership will set buyers back $3051 in servicing.
Front engine, rear-wheel drive, it’s a tried-and-true formula for an engaging driving experience and the Toyota 86 certainly doesn’t disappoint its spiritual predecessors in this regard.
Sure, the engine is a little underpowered, but the free-revving 2.0-litre will happily be wrung out until the 7600pm cut off.
The slick six-speed shifter is also an absolute joy to move, offering satisfying ‘snicks’ with every gear change, and a positive and natural throw that makes it hard to mis-shift.
Pedal placement, a crucial element in a manual car, is equally excellent, with just the right amount of spacing between the clutch, brake and throttle.
Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t heel-and-toe devotees, but it's nice they are positioned well, and offer the right amount of feedback and engagement.
From the driver’s position, looking out over the long bonnet can be a bit daunting, but with the bulging front wheelarches, you can actually tell exactly where the front wheels are, making apex-clipping a breeze.
The fantastic steering response helps with that too, as does the communicative chassis that conveys exactly what the rear axle is wanting to do.
Balanced, neutral handling is the name of the game here, with MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone rear.
Our test car was also fitted with the up-rated Brembo brakes and Sachs-branded dampers that are designed to improve stopping power and handling respectively.
However, without driving this car and an 86 without the Dynamic Performance Pack fitted, it’s hard to make comment on how much the handling characteristics have changed.
We can say that the Brembo brakes are excellent at scrubbing speed from the perky Toyota coupe, thanks to larger callipers and rotors.
The Toyota 86 might be a bit of a blast from the past in 2020, especially considering there is a new-generation version just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad car.
In fact, it serves up a fun and visceral driving experience seldom seen in anything other than the most focussed of sports cars, but packaged up with an attainable price.
If you value practicality and straight-line pace, a hot hatch will be the easy choice, but if the driving experience is the most important aspect of a car to you, it’s hard to pass up the Toyota 86.
|GT||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO||$24,200 – 32,890||2020 Toyota 86 2020 GT Pricing and Specs|
|GTS||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO||$28,600 – 37,950||2020 Toyota 86 2020 GTS Pricing and Specs|
|GTS Performance (apollo Blue)||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO||$31,100 – 40,700||2020 Toyota 86 2020 GTS Performance (apollo Blue) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|