Toyota GT86 review
A future classic
The classic recipe for a sports car is for it to be lightweight, rear-wheel-drive and have a powerful engine, and the Toyota GT86 is one of a very few modern vehicles that ticks all those boxes, as well as being affordable enough and reliable enough to be a practical daily driver.
The GT86 (it was renamed in 2018, before which it was known simply as the Toyota 86) is all about the feelings it evokes. Where most modern cars are hard to tell apart, especially from behind the driver’s seat, the GT86 is instantly unique. You slide easily behind the steering wheel, your behind almost impossibly close to the road’s surface, the supportive sport seats steering you into position and holding you firm. A press of the start button gets the horizontally opposed engine gruffling away, and a beautifully slick-six-speed manual gearbox gets things moving.
At a time when cars are becoming more and more complex, with multiple turbochargers and endless electronic trickery to increase power, the GT86 is incredibly refreshing. The power, 147kW along with 205Nm of torque, is provided by a 2-litre boxer engine that revs freely to beyond 7000rpm, making use of no turbochargers or other electronic trickery. A six-speed manual gearbox completes the drivetrain, transferring that power to the wheels, the rear ones, importantly, where a limited-slip differential adds to the sporting capabilities. The benchmark 0-100km/h time is 7.6 seconds and the top speed is 226km/h, all with a claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 7.6L/100km. It’s easy to look at that 0-100km/h time and dismiss it, for there are many faster cars out there, but the fun factor of the GT86 can’t be captured on paper.
Not to say the GT86 is old-fashioned: it was updated in 2018 and benefits from a Brembo performance brake package for impressive stopping power with bigger rotors and callipers. Augmenting the 86’s already renowned handling capabilities, the inclusion of Sachs performance dampers boost handling stability and responsiveness. An all-coil suspension consists of MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear, both with a stabiliser bar. And the result is handling of the highest order, but in an old-school way that relies on physics and mechanical engineering to keep things exciting and fantastically dynamic, as opposed to complex computer programmes doing their thing behind the scene to counter physics and keep an unbalanced car on the straight and narrow.
Obviously the GT86 does have those electronic driving aids, such as ABS braking, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Vehicle Stability Control, but they are never invasive and never dilute the purity of the driver-oriented experience.
On the safety side of things, there are front, side, curtain and driver knee airbags, along with the active systems mentioned above.
For those who need to sell the GT86 to themselves or a doubtful spouse, it can even be said to be practical – there are two back seats (small ones, but they are there when needed), and the boot is actually fairly spacious, and can be enlarged by folding down the rear seats.
The 2018 facelift also saw a touchscreen infotainment system added to the dash, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Show Plus functionality, as well as satellite navigation and Bluetooth pairing. Exterior visual changes include a black rear spoiler and side mirrors along with black alloy rims for a more menacing appearances. Standard specification is comprehensive and includes full LED lighting elements (headlights, taillights and fog lamps), keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, seat heating, Alcantara seat -and door trim, and a TFT multi-information display with digital gauge read out.
The GT86 is a thoroughly modern iteration of the classic sports car. Yes, there are faster cars out there, but there are very few cars that offer the feeling of visceral motoring that the GT86 offers, especially when combined with the reliability and practicality of this future collectable.
There is only a single model in the GT86 range, and it is priced at R593 100, which includes a 3-year/100 000km warranty and 4-year/60 000km service plan.
Unadulterated driving pleasure
High-revving naturally aspirated engine
Future classic status
Lack of complexity means reliability