ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: Toyota GT86
The Toyota GT86 looks fantastic and is attractively priced, but what’s it like to drive? DAVID HOOPER has been finding out.
SINCE the demise of the MR2 and Celica models, the Toyota range has been lacking a proper sports car, but now, this superb Toyota GT86 sports coupe has changed all that.
Not only does it look fantastic, but with an asking price of less than £25,000 for the standard car, I believe it represents incredible value for money.
My road test car arrived with an extra £3,000-worth of optional extras, including the stunning metallic orange paintwork which I loved, Touch and Go, which is a 6.1in touchscreen incorporating sat nav, Bluetooth and a nice six-speaker audio system. The most expensive extra, but one which I think is definitely worth the £1,600, is the black leather and alcantara heated sports seats which really finish the car off beautifully and perhaps most importantly, are body-huggingly comfortable and supportive.
With its sportingly sleek coupe styling and contoured bodywork, the Toyota GT86 really looks the part – and that’s before you have a look around the back and find two large bean can exhausts, an aero-dynamic rear splitter and a boot-mounted spoiler.
For such a stylish car, I thought initially that the interior design was a something of a disappointment. It’s blacker than the New Zealand rugby team’s outfit, with little to catch your eye, and the orange illumination on the dials makes it look quite old-fashioned, but it’s all there. Climate control, cruise control, heated seats and so on.
After living with the car for a while though, I just accepted it for what it is – and it is a driver’s car.
Under the bonnet is 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, but in the Boxer, horizontally-opposed layout borrowed from its sister car, the Subaru BRZ which is almost its identical twin!
Producing just shy of 200bhp, the benchmark 0-62mph sprint is despatched in a reasonable 7.7 seconds and there’s a potential top speed of 140mph – and all without a turbocharger in sight.
Not the quickest sports car on the market off the line maybe, but it’s no slouch, and once it’s up and running it’s hugely involving to drive. The noise it makes is superb, but I do wish manufacturers would stop creating artificial engine noises in the cabin. Yes, it makes it sound sportier, but who are you kidding – I’d much prefer to hear the real engine note, but Toyota is not alone in this, VW and Ford are two other culprits in their Golf GTI and Focus ST models.
With the maximum torque of 205Nm being found above 6,400rpm, and the maximum power coming on stream at 7,000rpm, the GT86 is quite lazy and sedate at low speeds and it needs to be revved hard to tap into its true performance potential, but do this and it flies, with a red light at the top of the speedo flashing vigorously prompting the driver to change up before hitting the rev limiter. The precise gear change is a delight, and the engine note addictive the more you drive it.
The comfortable suspension set-up employs MacPherson struts at the front, and double wishbones at the rear. In true sports car style, power is transmitted to the rear wheels, which leaves the front pair to do the steering without being corrupted by the engine’s torque trying to pull them in different directions. The result is precise steering, firmly weighted in the case of the Toyota GT86, which responds to the driver’s inputs at the wheel with commendable accuracy.
In wet, wintery conditions, rear-wheel-drive isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who enjoy their driving, such a set-up provides the most enjoyable driving experience, so long as you remember to give the car due respect and take account of the conditions.
The Toyota GT86 can be a bit tail happy on wet roundabouts for example, but the two-stage traction and stability control keeps the back end in check. Turn off the first phase, and it allows the driver a bit more freedom to explore the car’s limits before the safety systems will intervene. This made the GT86 much more entertaining, allowing me to balance it on the throttle, right on the edge of the available grip, making the rear end of the car tuck in nicely on the exit of corners.
The flat boxer engine gives the GT86 a low centre of gravity, and on dry roads, which were a rarity during my test, you can really exploit its excellent handling characteristics. The bottom line is, it’s fun to drive in any conditions!
On the motorway, I saw an average of 39mpg on its trip computer, and averaged 36.4mpg over a distance of some 500 miles, so it’s not too thirsty to live with.
The Toyota GT86 is really a 2+2 – there is room for four inside, just, with a modest boot at the back.
Since it went on sale in July 2012, the GT86 has won much praise from the motoring Press, with some national magazines naming it their Car of the Year.
It may not be perfect, but I think it’s a cracking car – so well done to Toyota for putting some affordable fun back into motoring.
MODEL: Toyota GT86.
TOYOTA GT86 RANGE: From GT86 manual (£24,995) to GT86 automatic (£26,495).
ENGINE: 1998cc, 197bhp four-cylinder petrol engine, driving rear wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 140mph. 0-62mph in 7.7 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 27.2mpg.
Fuel tank: 50 litres.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 181g/km.
INSURANCE: Group 29.
WARRANTY: 5 years/100,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.