2016 Toyota GT86

03 Jun 2016 Toyota GT86

Is the Toyota GT86 a real sports car?

Ever since the Toyota GT86 came out in 2012, I wanted to drive one. Now finally I had the chance to do so, and the car met all of my expectations.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, because I hadn’t driven many Toyota’s or asian cars before, and surely no real asian sports car. But everything I had heard about this car was overwhelming. Even Jeremy Clarkson said this is one of the best cars he has ever driven, and that must mean something.

The Toyota GT86 shares it’s chassis with the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S, which are all basically the same car, with some minor visual changes, different Nav systems or different seats etc. I know the experts will now write up a long list of differences, but the cars are really pretty much the same.

All of these model variants also share a 4-cylinder boxer engine with 200 HP and just 205 Newtonmeters (151 lb/ft) at 6000 rpm, and a 7400 rpm redline. It doesn’t sound like a lot of power, but don’t forget that they weight of the GT86 is just around 1200 kg (2650 lbs), which is not a lot for today’s standard.

After I drove the car a little bit, I already had a smile on my face. It’s not crazy fast, it doesn’t feel fancy, and it just does what I expected this little car with it’s 50/50 weight distribution to do – DRIVE.

It does that one job very well. I never experienced an emotional driving experience in a Toyota before, but the GT86 changed that. The sound in the interior when you’re revving up that engine was so addicting, and since you have to rev out the engine a lot to get any performance out of the car, it was really adding to the driving experience, even most of the people complain about the low-torque. It is understandable, since it forces you to shift a lot when ever you want to overtake anyone or accelerate, but again, I think that ads to the driving experience and shows that Toyota went with a sports car with almost no compromises.

The car can not only go fast, but it actually cruises very well too. I drove with this car around 4000 kilometers and was amazed by how comfortable the car actually was when driving for 6-7 hours, thanks to okay seats and cruise control.

When I drove up the mountain in Austria for the review, I thought that the car was great, but it was missing just a bit of power. I think 300 HP would fit this chassis perfectly. It is hard to keep the car go side ways and to really put it in a drift, especially when going uphill.

I thought the car would be much easier to drift.

The transmission is another thing I really enjoyed. The clutch feels good, the pedals are positioned right, and the shifter itself feels great! It has a short travel and just this nice mechanical feel to it, which makes shifting through the 6 gears even more fun. Also rev-matching is no problem thanks to the good pedal arrangement.

Driving this car on the Autobahn was fun too, believe it or not. I was able to get it to about 242 km/h (150 mph) and it felt pretty stable at that speed still. Not as good as any BMW I have driven before, but okay.

So the engine characteristic, transmission and chassis are all sports car like, which proves to me at least that the Toyota GT86 is absolutely a real sports car. It’s an entry-level sports car with not a lot of power and refinement, but it definitely is a sports car. A good one as well.

Overall the price of the car just makes this such a winner in my mind. The car costs roughly $25,000 in the US and 28.000 Euros in Germany, and that isn’t a whole lot for the fun this car will bring along. It might be one of these bargain deals in the automotive world.

Article by Kai Groschupf