19 May 2013
Itís been a few years since Toyota had a proper sports car in its range, but thatís about to change with the GT86. Co-developed with Subaru, this fine-looking new coupť goes back to basics by combining decent punch with low weight, a fine chassis and straightforward simplicity. Itís a cracker.
The GT86 is powered by a 1,998cc flat-four Subaru engine with Toyota direct petrol injection that feeds its 197bhp through either a short-throw 6-sp manual or paddle-shift auto Toyota transmission to the rear wheels. By deliberately eschewing a turbo and its attendant lag (however brief), throttle response is immediate and crisp, and although the engine isnít particularly torquey at lower revs, thereís strong acceleration as you approach 7,000rpm. Though smooth and amply powerful, the boxer engine sounds a bit rough when revved, although this is less apparent in the auto version. The brakes are strong and progressive, and though the GT86 isnít meant to be scarily fast the quoted figures are (manual/auto): 0-62 in 7.7/8.4 secs with a 140/130mph top speed.
In addition to its low-slung Subaru engine, the GT86 also has a Subaru-derived chassis and suspension. This coupled with a sub 1,250kg kerb weight, a low centre of gravity, a 53:47 front/rear weight distribution, quick steering plus much development and fine tuning means the GT86 has fabulous balance and it steers and handles beautifully, whether on the road or track. Just as Toyota hasnít pursued the ultimate in straight-line performance, by wearing the same tyres as the Prius nor has it gone for maximum grip, and so with a non-intrusive and switchable VSC system the GT86 is terrific fun and a true driverís car while cleverly also providing a compliant and comfortable ride.
After just one day and a couple of hundred trouble-free miles in an all-new model that at the time of driving (and writing) hadnít gone on sale (on sale July 1st 2012 in UK) Iím not really in a position to judge, except to say that the GT86 seemed faultless except for a slightly ill-fitting faux carbon-fibre passenger airbag cover. Making predictions is further complicated in this case because itís a Toyota that employs much Subaru hardware, and itís built in a Japanese Subaru factory. For what itís worth, Toyota as a brand scored 80.5% to come 10th equal out of 28 in JD Powerís 2011 customer satisfaction survey.
The GT86 may be a lean, lightweight and low-slung sports coupť, but Toyota hasnít skimped on safety as it comes as standard with seven airbags, active headrests, LED daytime running lights, heated door mirrors and even Isofix child seat mountings in the rear. There are no Euro NCAP crash test results to report, but itís unlikely that Toyota/Subaru will have cut corners in this respect. Security is taken care of by an alarm, immobiliser, smart-entry remote central locking and an electric boot release.
The GT86 is technically a 2+2, but the rear seats are tiny and thereís effectively no legroom in the back, so Ď2+0.2í might be a more accurate description. However, although no-one buys sports cars for their space and practicality, the GT86ís rear seatback folds flat which opens up the boot to the cabin and vice versa so thereís ample loadspace for a week away for two.
The GT86 will be offered in a single specification in the UK, with on-the-road prices of £24,995 for the manual and £26,495 for the auto. Other standard equipment will include cruise control, dual-zone climate control and a touch-screen, multi-function satnav/media display with Bluetooth (for phone and music streaming), a USB port and more. Leather upholstery and heated seats are the only options. Though £1,500 more to buy, the auto version boasts better mpg figures Ė 39.8 combined against 36.2, and with that comes lower CO2 emissions Ė 164g/km, VED band G (auto), 181g/km, VED band I (manual). But these figures aside, if you yearn for something more visceral than an Audi TT but canít quite stomach the £39k minimum required for a Porsche Cayman, then look no further than the wonderfully entertaining Toyota GT86, or perhaps its Subaru BRZ siblingÖ
Submitted: 22/05/2012 14:06:37
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