It’s not uncommon for car makers to model share but it is less common for companies to actively seek cooperation on developing a new car. Toyota and Subaru, the Goliath and David of Japanese car makers, sat down one day over a cup of sake and walked out together as proud parents of twins, the 86 and BRZ. A Wheel Thing recently sampled the BRZ in manual form and was able to compare that to the 86 GTS with the auto.
A two litre, petrol powered, flat four lurks under the bonnet, bolted to a six speed auto. Peak power (147kW) and torque are spun out from 6000 revs, making it a very peaky delivery. The auto, however, is geared to take advantage of that and is surprisingly linear in delivery, belying the high revs (6600 rpm) required for the 205Nm of peak torque. Light throttle pressure has the ‘box gently slurring through whilst a good stab of the go pedal has the 86 rattling through to 100 kmh decently quickly.
Long, low, slinky and in pearlescent white, it almost glows in the dark. The GTS comes with a noticeable yet almost unobtrusive rear deck lid spoiler, such is the integration of the design. It’s well proportioned in the manner of all good looking sports oriented cars, with the Jaguar E-Type an obvious link. LED tail lights and driving lights at the front add some further visual sparkle.
On the Inside.
It’s a real retro look, with plastic toggle switches, a dark interior and a mix of plastics including a faux carbon fibre weave on the dash. The tiller has no controls for a phone, audio, cruise control and is there simply to steer.
It’s a low entry into the snug and body hugging seats but, like most cars of its ilk, the rear seats are more suitable for cargo holding than passenger keeping. As is the wont of Toyota, there’s little that isn’t ergonomic in layout, with buttons and dials all where a fall of a hand would find them. A niggle is the reverse mentality of the climate control’s zone button, with a light coming on when you’d expect it to indicate it is in dual zone mode but it isn’t. The vents themselves are a mix of classically simple push and rotate dials at either end of the dash and arch like on the centre top.
The touchscreen audio and navigation system is well integrated but, like so many vehicles that come to Australia, has the controls on the passenger side, necessitating a reach across for the driver.
On The Road.
An immediately noticeable difference between the 86 GTS and its BRZ sibling is how much more planted on the road it feels. The BRZ felt skatey at the rear, almost as if it would break into a drift at a moments notice, whilst the 86 gave an impression of a somewhat locked diff, with a crunch of tyre on tarmac during a turn. There’s a good heft to the steering wheel as well, with weight throughout the turn, providing a good sense of which way the car is pointed.
As noted oft and well elsewhere, the sports ride is hard, perhaps too much so in some eyes but to soften it a touch (or more) has the risk run of making it a Grand Tourer.
The auto is sweet, slick and rarely in the wrong gear required; with the high revving engine you’d expect a lack of low down performance but it really does feel as it there a batch of torque for every ratio. The lever itself is close to the feel of the manual, with a short throw and stubby lever.
Having the opportunity to sample both brands, both transmissions and two trim levels so close in time has provided an almost unique opportunity to see two similar approaches from two distinctively different makers with different philosophies. Toyota has needed a sports style vehicle since the axing of the Celica and Subaru breaks with its all wheel drive basis. The joint venture has paid off and both companies sell as many as they can bring in to the country. Toyota’s two tier 86 range starts at $32790 plus on roads with the GTS a full seven thousand more. For full specs and prices go here: http://www.toyota.com.au/86/prices
For A Wheel Thing TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1DObFApTVU&feature=em-upload_owner