A decade ago the motoring world was a buzz with the talk of a new rear wheel drive sports car coming from Toyota. It was displayed at motor shows and drip fed to the media and public with photos of what is coming.
In 2012 Toyota released the 86GT and 86GTS which was designed in partnership with fellow Japanese company Fuji Heavy Industries (who supplied the engine and driveline) and also sold as a Subaru BRZ.
The Toyota 86 was designed as a modern-day version of the classic Toyota AE86 from the 1980s and seven years later it is still selling to a range of customers, however the focus still being on motoring enthusiasts.
The most recent upgrade for the 86 came in December 2016, which brought a mid-life restyle, retuned suspension, a minor power-boost and a shorter shift manual gearbox. So it was time to try this out.
Getting behind the wheel of the 2019 86GTS automatic, equipped with Dynamic Performance Pack consisting of Brembo Brakes, SACHS Suspension and unique black 17 inch alloy wheels, we thought there would be something serious that would grab our attention.
Unfortunately we were not falling in love straight away and it was going to take some time for this relationship to blossom.
The 86 comes standard with a 2.0L boxer engine with D-4S direct injection with 6-speed automatic transmission (manual available) and produces 152kW. Normally a car made for racers and is as light as it is, that kind of power would be exciting. Well paired with the auto box the excitement was nowhere to be found.
The engine feels well underpowered and to do anything where the blood starts to race relies on late braking and lots of intestinal fortitude.
One thing we couldn’t fault is the handling and stopping. Toyota have done an amazing job on the handling and this meant that corners were never any problem. From light to heavy turns, the 86GTS could not put a foot wrong.
Sitting really low in the 86 gives a well-balanced car and good centre of gravity. The steering is very direct and tight chassis and suspension with anti-roll bars combine superbly. The 17-inch wheels and tyres are a good combination and help the 86GTS stick to the road.
The bumps and holes and every little thing can be felt through your bum as you sit so low but the seats hug you and absorb some of the excessive jolting.
With the addition of the Dynamic Performance Pack (optional extra), the 86GTS has a solid brake package with the strong Brembos. These brakes are so good that in a way it makes up for the lack of engine power. You can really rely on them to stop you very late and this allows for more speed to be carried through a corner with the excellent handling.
The interior does feel like you have stepped into a race car with air-conditioning. The dashboard design is elegant but simple with a clear gauge display and switches intuitively placed for easy reach. The cruise control settings are on a stalk behind the steering wheel which feels as if it was an afterthought but is still practical.
If you are not a tall or large person, the seats with hug you well, the roof won’t impede your vision and the cup holders that are behind you won’t be a problem.
With such a small interior the need for dual-zone automatic climate control is a little bit more a show than practical. The steering wheel is nice and the paddle shifters that come with the auto are easy reach and work when wanted. Overall the interior is nice and suits the style Toyota are going for.
The fuel consumption rating from Toyota is mid 8s on RON 98 premium unleaded per 100kms, and this is achievable however having driving it in a spirited fashion will see this go well about 10.0 litres/100km.
The Toyota 86GTS looks good from the outside and in and will do what you want on a daily basis. It is however a little hard to live with on a day to day basis due to how low it is and the lack of room for friends and shopping etc.
The power is not there in the auto so it would be worth going for a manual if considering this model. Rear wheel drive is getting harder to get in the modern world so it is worth a look at for the weekend racer.
Cost: $45,075 drive away (check local dealers for current pricing)