I’ll declare my love for the Toyota 86 straight up. It’s been one of my favourite cars since its release about four years ago.
So, to say I was excited to see what Toyota has done to it in its first major upgrade would be an understatement.
To do anything to the 86 was fraught with danger.
On release, most people were gobsmacked that this little driver focused car came from a company responsible for cars like the Camry.
While reliable and supremely functional, Toyota’s haven’t been noted for their excitement.
So to find a lightweight, rear wheel drive car with near perfect balance was nothing short of a revelation.
The steering in the 86 was sublime, offering feedback matched only by German sports cars worth more than $100k.
The most common criticism of the 86 was a lack of power, but those leveling that critique missed the point.
You don’t need buckets of power to have fun behind the wheel, and the 86 proved that – unequivocally.
So, what has Toyota done? Have they ruined it?
No. The improvements are minor, but they move the game forward.
The already brilliant handling is now even better thanks to a stiffer chassis and re-tuned suspension.
It doesn’t stand out in normal traffic as much different to the last car, but you notice the extra composure the closer to the limit you get.
The steering is still spectacularly good – Toyota have left it alone, it makes sense not to fix something that’s already close to perfect.
In manual form you get an extra 5kW, up to 152kW at a screaming 7000rpm, thanks to a revised intake and exhaust system. Torque remains unchanged at 212Nm.
The bolt-action gear change in the six-speed manual is still one of the most satisfying on the market.
The engine makes a rorty, raspy note that fills the cabin and adds an extra dynamic to the driving fun.
The power outputs in the automatic remain unchanged at 147kW and 205Nm, and while I’d never pick the auto box in a million years, it seems lots do with the auto accounting for 41% of all sales.
There’s a new Track Mode available in the manual variant allowing you to set the limits of the stability and traction control, and if you’re hitting the racetrack, you can turn off all the electronic nannies altogether.
While most won’t be heading to the track any time soon, there’s a swag of folks who use the 86 in drifting events.
Of course in 2016 there has been an entire series supporting the V8 Supercars with large fields of racers taking advantage of the low entry costs – those guys in particular will love the new Track Mode.
The new 86 looks a bit tougher than the car it replaces with new LED headlights and taillights, redesigned bumpers front and rear and new aero-stabilising fins on the side of the car.
The highest spec GTS car gets a new aluminum spoiler that Toyota assures us really does help the aerodynamics and handling stability.
The base GT car rides on skinny 205/55 Bridgestone tyres on carry over 16 inch wheels, the GTS gets 215/45’s on newly designed 17 inch alloy rims.
Inside you’ll find the smallest ever steering wheel that Toyota has ever used and it’s completely devoid of any buttons or switches – you just use it to…well steer!
It’s simple, feels great and looks the goods.
The rest of the interior in the base GT is pretty much unchanged from the old car apart from the tacho which now proudly presents the 7000 rpm line at the top of the dial.
The top of the line GTS, which accounts for 67% of all 86 sales, gets buttons on the steering wheel, a suede like material called Grandlux which helps eliminate glare around the instrument panel, and a new 4.2 inch colour central display.
All cars get a space saver spare, which considering the size of the boot, is probably a good thing.
Prices have gone up ever so slightly, between $300 and $800, making the Toyota 86 still brilliant value for money.
The 86 GT is priced from $30,790 plus on roads, with the only available option metallic paint at $450. The higher spec GTS costs $36,490 before on roads – add $2300 if you want either car in automatic.
So all in all Toyota have done a brilliant job upgrading a car that was already great.
If you like driving and don’t need huge amounts of space, go immediately to your Toyota dealer and drive an 86. I can guarantee an ear to ear grin along with a happy accountant.
And I bet you’ll fall head over heels in love with it too.’
Article Courtesy of: http://behindthewheel.com.au/2017-toyota-86-gt-review/