Toyota has a habit of making relatively affordable, fairly reliable and reasonably fast cars. But whether that’s enough in today’s market remains to be seen.
Their latest offering to budget-oriented enthusiasts is the GT 86. It’s not the most powerful car in its class, a class that features the Audi TT, the devilishly handsome Nissan 370Z, and the Subaru BRZ. But Toyota hopes that the lightweight handling and the smooth feel whilst driving will swing it in their favour.
Toyota’s GT 86 was fundamentally a response to drivers’ complaints that the company lacked any real enthusiasm in its lineup. Yes, it might be the biggest car manufacturer in the world. But it was selling the most generic and boring cars imaginable. The new Auris is hardly the most exciting car in the world.
The First Was The 2000GT
The GT 86 originally got its name from two of Toyota’s most iconic cars from the past. The first was the 2000GT, a futuristic car from the 1960s which had sporty and aggressive styling for the time. The modern GT 86 adopted some of this. The other is the AE86 from the mid-1980s. This car became legendary in drift fraternities for its ability to go around corners sideways.
Thanks to the fact it shares a platform with the Subaru BRZ, the GT 86 is inexpensive. Similarly is its insurance relative to other cars in its class, according to sites like Money Expert. The whole thing is essentially a carbon copy of its more famous rival, giving the car the same punchy feel to drive.
The GT 86 comes in a 2.0-liter version with a six-speed manual gearbox for the old-school thrills. The engine will develop 197 bhp, which doesn’t sound like much, but the car is very light. Drivers might find the Subaru’s slightly lower price tag tempting. However, repairs are more difficult to obtain from Subaru, given their lack of coverage. Toyota garages, on the other hand, are everywhere. The car comes in a couple of varieties of trim, as well as an “aero” version. This adds extra aerodynamic features to give the vehicle better handling in corners.
The standout feature of the car and the thing that makes it exciting is the drive. The fact that Toyota managed to make the performance and drive of the GT 86 so good is a bit of a mystery. Mostly when you consider that the rest of their line is so mundane. They seem to have taken the best from Subaru, and then used it to their own advantage.
GT 86 – Perfectly Balanced
The car itself is nearly perfectly balanced, which means that in corners, there isn’t the slightest hint of oversteer or understeer. What’s more, there’s plenty of feedback from the steering itself, and the brakes are quick to bite and are responsive. On the track, the car can be put into slides which is nice, given how many modern cars from the likes of Mercedes and BMW actively prevent you from doing this (unless you turn off a bunch of computerised safety features and ruin the handling in the process).
One drawback of the car for some will be the fact that the cabin can get rather noisy when you push the 2.0-liter engine to its max. The suspension can be a little firm too, especially if you want to take it on wiggly little country roads, but for most petrol heads, this sort of thing comes with the territory.
Compared to the Nissan 370S, the GT 86 is slightly lacking in the power department. The 370Z offers nearly 346 bhp in an impressive V6 engine. The Audi TT is quicker than the Toyota too, all thanks to the fact that the GT 86 will only do 0 to 62 mph in 8.2 seconds: hardly impressive stuff.
Aimed at the enthusiast market, running costs aren’t too bad for this car. It’ll do 36.2 mpg on a good day and emits 181 g/km of CO2. But Toyota has been less than generous when it comes to the fuel tank, which will only hold a mere 11 gallons of fuel. So, you’ll be visiting the petrol station every 360 miles or so.
The GT 86 makes Toyota exciting again. But when the car is compared to the competition, it leaves a lot to be desired. With that said, it’s a lot cheaper to run than say, an Audi, which is sort of the point.
Now you know our verdict on the GT 86 why not decide for yourself by jumping behind the wheel of your own on Drift Hunters – the smash hit drifting game.