This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s joint venture with Subaru, the two door sports coupe Toyota call 86. In this case we drove, back to back, the 86 GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports Pack, and the 86 GTS Auto.How Much?: The GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports Pack is priced from $43,534 driveaway with the “standard” GTS priced from $40,497. The Manual has Apollo Blue paint, a specialist colour for this model and trim, with the Auto being clad in White Liquid. Metallics are a $500 option. The auto is $42,866 with Ignition Red, $43,381 with the Liquid White.
Under The Bonnet Is: Subaru’s fabulous flat or “boxer” four. Peak power is 147kW (auto) and 152kW (manual) from the 2.0L capacity engine, with peak twist being either 205Nm or 212Nm. There are slightly different cog ratios in the manual as compared to the auto, with the manual’s final drive at 4.3:1, compared to 4.1:1 with the auto. Peak power is at a lofty 7,000rpm, with that peak torque found between 6,400rpm to 6,600rpm in the auto, 6,800rpm in the manual. In order to get those figures the engine is tuned to run on 98RON. Economy is quoted at 7.1L/100km or 8.4L/100km for the auto and manual on the combined cycle. Due to the physical size of the 86, fuel tank capacity is just 50L. We returned figures in largely urban driving of 7.9L/100km for the auto and 8.6km/100km for the manual. Gross vehicle masses are 1,670kg (auto) and 1,700kg (manual) with dry weights between 1,250kg to 1,280kg.On The Inside It’s: a nightmare for rear seat passengers, a tight squeeze for front seat passengers, and a harken back to “the glory days” of Toyota with a retro look and feel to the cabin’s design. The front seats use a lever method for moving the seats forward to allow access to the rear, but they also use levers for seat back and height adjustment, not the preferable electric or at least “roller dial” adjustment. They are heated via a two position switch but only for the squab, not the whole seat.The GTS spec has Alcantara trim on the doors and dash for a little extra comfort, plus carpeted floor mats which also add a little extra sound deadening. Pedals are alloy with rubber tabs for the retro look and aiding shoe grip. The dash dials are fully analogue with a small 4.2 inch LCD screen set at the bottom right. This provides oil and coolant temperatures, G-force instant and history, a power and torque delivery graph, and more. The main screen is 6.1 inches in measurement and is a modern look on a retro theme. There’s a solid black surround, a CD player slot, and AM/FM only, meaning no DAB. Satnav, reverse camera, and streaming apps are standard.The actual look is of dials and toggle switches. It’s meant to evoke a sense of looking back in time and it works. The dual zone climate control, the air intake for fresh/recirculate, even the glowing red LEDs for the clock and temperature displays, are all “olde timey” in look. The centre console plastics are a chintzy silver plastic and have the traction control tabs embedded. Both have the standard push button Start/Stop and that’s visually obvious by being located in the bottom right corner of the centre console stack. And for those that prefer mechanical stopping, a proper hand brake is employed.The dash is a sweeping design that joins both doors in an arc and wave and has the centre airvents looking not unlike a impulse engine housing from a starship. The top of the dash binnacle and the flat panel have the Alcantara trim, and there is a subtle silver hue to the airvent surrounds. That colour is also wrapping the gear selector. Thankfully, both headlights and wipers are Auto on. There are a couple of centre console cup/bottle holders, and just enough room in the door pockets for a bottle. The boot is also surprisingly big, and coped well enough with a weekly shop. For its more obvious audience, a couple or single, it’s ideal for an overnight bag or two.On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged from the original model however a very mild facelift was applied in 2016. Tail lights are LED as are the headlight cluster driving lights. There are aerodynamic strakes in the lower quarters of the front bumper around the globe lit driving lights. The chin of the front bumper has been subtly restyled, and there are even thin strakes on the outer edges of the plastic at the bottom of the windscreen for air guidance.
The GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports pack comes with Brembo brakes and red calipers, Sachs suspension, and bespoke 17 inch black alloys. Rubber is from Michelin and is 215/45/17. There’s a small rear wing for both. The manual has it in full black whilst the auto was in black with body coloured end plates. There are twin exhaust tips and both are chromed. Indicators are embedded in the leading edge of the front wheel arches which also extend into the line of view from the driver’s seat. The auto also featured the excellent Brembo stoppers. Just a breath on the brake pedal has the Brembos applying grip, and with a beautifully modulated pedal, the driver can judge perfectly a “slow in fast out”corner drive.On The Road It’s: A huge amount of fun. Deliberately designed with a mix of skatiness and grip, the low centre of gravity, relatively thin rubber, and taut suspension make for a car that is always feeling like it’s ready to break loose. Get it onto a road that has more corners than straights and the chassis immediately shows why it delivers smiles in spades.
Although peak power and torque figures are north of 6,000rpm, the gearing and the engines are perfectly matched to give, if not true outright zip, a very good semblance of it. Because the driver sits so low to to the ground too, there’s a sense of higher speed. That’s helped by a raspy metallic induction note, especially in the auto with the longer gearing. On that point, the auto sees 100kmh/110kmh at 1,000rpm lower than the manual. 100kmh in the manual is 2,700rpm, 3,000rpm for 110kmh. Toyota’s head of PR, Orlando Rodriguez, advised that the manual was the pick for buyers and when the slight facelift in 2016 was applied, the change to the manual’s engine tune and final drive was applied due to the higher sales volumes. The auto’s driveline was left untouched.The manual is more manic to drive and the transmission changes have added faster acceleration times. The gear change is a combination of a definitive selector mechanism and a clutch that allows the driver to find JUST the right point to engage and slingshot away. Revs are dialled up, the left foot lifts to engage the clutch, and there’s a fine point where the rest of the travel upwards, and the accelerator’s pedal goes downwards, that works almost like a launch control. There is no clutch slippage, the narrow rubber hooks into the tarmac, and it’s off.
The auto is, naturally, easier to get under way and is by no means locked out of the fun facts. Left to its own devices it’s good enough, but use the paddle shifts or gear selector for a manual change, and it’s noticeably quicker, sharper, crisper. The selector in the manual is notchy, precisely metallic in feel, not unexpectedly, with a gate mechanism that tells the driver “yes, this is second, yes, this is third”. Reverse is a lift of a lock-out lever and across, and this too is definitive in its engagement and movement. Both have a suspension that tends towards the harder side of ride, with the Dynamic Sports Pack adding a hint more of the sharper edge. It’s the sort of feel that would have the Michelin rubber roll over a coin and tell you not only is it a five cent piece, it’s heads up and made in 1991. But neither are excessively uncomfortable, even with the rear end kicking up a corner every now and then. There is just enough “give” to dial out the upper end of the harshness. The dimensions of the 86 help with handling. It’s shorter than it looks, at 4,240mm and squeezes in a 2,570mm wheelbase.
Steering is thought process quick, with a lock to lock of just three turns. Think your way through a corner and the wheel points the broad nose exactly where it should be. Once the seating position has been sorted, and it really would be easier with the roller dial adjustment, not the levers, the car becomes an extension, and that’s how a good sports car or car with more sporting pretensions than others, should feel. Although it’s not the roomiest of cabins, there’s enough for the left arm to grab the manual gear selector, both arms to be just at the right angle to steer and not be cramped or over-extended, and therefore that steering becomes the extension.What About Safety?: Camera for reverse, seven airbags, hill start assist, and the mandated driver aids.And The Warranty Is? Toyota announced in January of 2019 that passenger cars would receive a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which could be bumped to seven years on the engine and drivetrain on “properly maintained vehicles” that are equipped with genuine Toyota parts.
At The End Of The Drive: The joint venture between Toyota and Subaru has provided a car that has found itself a strong niche. There is a bespoke motorsport series, the car is used in driver training, and drivers that have either one will acknowledge another driver. It’s a car that feels as if it needs more power however the chassis is tuned to take advantage almost perfectly of what there is. It’s also the kind of car that has a set audience and those that appreciate what its intention is, will be the ones that extract every erg of enjoyment from the drive. On a cost effective or “bang for your buck” basis, for a dollar per smile, at $40 to $45K, it’s a bargain. The Toyota website is where more information can be found.