Toyota 86

Review: The all-new Toyota 86 car launched

Technology

This might be the final dance for petrol-powered sports cars. Meet the GT86’s successor, equipped with expertise from Toyota’s motorsport-dominant Gazoo Racing division—hence the name change. The GR86 remains a front-engined, 2+2-seater coupe with a Subaru-derived flat-four boxer engine driving the rear wheels, aiming to entice younger consumers (and the young at heart) to forego a hot hatchback or a lifestyle crossover in favor of an entry-level sports car.

So, what will tempt me?

The GR86 uses the GT86 principle and improves each and every component. The engine’s displacement increases from 2.0 to 2.4 liters due to rebored cylinders, in an effort to fill the deep torque canyon that GT86 drivers plunge headlong into as they ascend through the engine’s mid-range. Toyota’s tried to make the shifting smoother (a six-speed automatic is an available, but if you’re medically able to drive a manual, the argument over which gearbox to pick for very much stops there).

What else has changed?

Mounts for the steering system are beefier. In fact, the entire chassis has been reinforced, increasing overall stiffness by 60% — yet engineers have also worked hard to ensure weight is conserved elsewhere so the GR86 doesn’t pile on the fat that would counteract its modest 231hp and 249Nm.

This is an increase over the GT86’s 197hp and 209Nm, providing the new GR important figures like 0-100kph in 6.3 seconds and a peak speed of 233kph. This is emphatically not a car about sheer speed. If you timed both down a straight or an entire racetrack, the GR Yaris would utterly destroy it. Toyota has not relented in its quest to create a vehicle that prioritizes ‘wow that’s fun’ handling above ‘wow that’s quick’ acceleration. And you’ll have to work hard to maintain your speed: rev the engine, row the gearbox, and maintain your hard-earned momentum around curves. Does this seem like your type of entertainment? This automobile will suit you perfectly.

On the road

We wouldn’t often begin here, but there’s an intriguing nugget to consider. Toyota made a great deal about fitting the same Michelin Primacy tires used on a Prius hybrid on the old GT86, in an effort to minimize overall grip and make this skinny-tired 200hp coupe lively. Sure enough, the vehicle would slide under power, but the weakness in this strategy was the eco-tires made hard braking a touch dicey and didn’t do the turn-in any favors, particularly in the rain. Owners who customized their GT86s more frequently than not began by picking a grippier type of 18-inch tire.

Toyota followed suit with the GR86 right from the start. In some places, a 17-inch rim can be covered with a low-friction tire. The GR86 has a less gawky posture than its predecessor, but we were concerned that it would have too much grip to unstick.

Just be wary of the cruise control stalk. The dated thing hangs from the steering wheel at 4 o’clock, and it boshes your fingers if you let the steering wheel fall back through your hands mid-skid.

What else is good?

This is a vehicle that is refreshingly straightforward. There is no Sport mode or Individual setting to control all of your preferred characteristics. The suspension cannot be adjusted for the commute or Copse Corner. It’s a one-setting passive damping set-up, and on first impression on some of Spain’s more British-feeling rural roads, it’s a well-judged compromise. Very abrupt over speed bumps and level crossings, but passable everywhere else, with a degree of roll when cracking to help gauge how much grip is remaining below you.

Overall, this is an automobile that exists solely to amuse. Will it irritate you? You might like a little more steering wheel reach adjustability, it’s a bit of a boomy cruiser, and it’s simply not that quick.

If they aren’t dealbreakers for you—and if you understand what Toyota’s doing with this car, they won’t be—you’ll find the GR to be a less-is-more tonic.

If you’re convinced on GR86 life so far, then hang tight: this is the piece you have to put up with, the sacrifice you must make in order to get an anachronistically analog sports vehicle into your driveway in 2022. The inside is OK, but it is not the GR’s strong suit.

Last thoughts

The GR86 is one of the top automobiles in 2022. It’s like a sanitized, weatherproof Caterham against powerful, overweight, overcomplicated so-called sports cars. Able to give real-world chuckles at a cheap price, but enhanced in crucial areas over the GT86—the torque, the appearance, the on-the-limit handling. Toyota 86 Price Philippines is ₱ 2,086,000 – 2,186,000.

It’s almost cruel that such a reachable hero should only be permitted to live for a few short years in some areas, but if you acquire one—wherever you reside—you’re getting a car that will become a classic in its own lifetime, and one of the greatest cars Toyota has ever created.

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