Reasonably priced, unbelievable to drive… What else is so absorbing about the Toyota GT86?
By motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay – Instagram @tbarnesclay and Twitter @carwriteups.
The GT86’s soul harks back to the 2000GT, Toyota’s definitive front-engine, rear-drive sports car – and it’s just as stimulating as that ever was. There’s no turbocharger, but it still kicks like a horse, making the marque with the three-oval emblem more likeable than ever.
From a standing start to 62mph in 7.6 seconds doesn’t sound mind-blowing, but I assure you it’s fast enough in this coupé. The maximum speed is just 140mph, but where are you going to do that lawfully in Britain anyway? These numbers aren’t critical – it’s all about the feel of the machine, and the sense you experience behind the GT86’s wheel is one of unadulterated pleasure.
The GT86 puts a grin on your face the moment you sit in the sporty driver’s seat and close your hands around the thickset steering wheel. The upturned corners of your mouth transform into an out-and-out beam when you slot into first gear using the stumpy gear stick and set off on your trip.
The car has a low centre of gravity, so it’ll take bends as though it’s soldered to the line. The tail will need taming in the wet – so cautiousness is recommended, but that makes it all the more exciting. After all, this Toyota is about the drive – not the journey’s end.
The GT86 is reasonably priced, too. At £30,000 it’s something you’ll realistically be able to save for. And when you get it on your drive, you won’t stop cleaning it. I even gave my test car a polish. Why? Well, it looked so good it just had to be kept shiny.
When you finish your outing in the Toyota, you feel as though you’ve been at the gym – in a positive sort of way. The GT86 has an exceptional power-to-weight ratio, and it asks to be worked like a dog. You’ve got to have your eye on the ball, though, as the steering is so responsive that it’s easy to stray over the white line if you’re distracted. There’s no piloting this coupé with one hand on the wheel – it’s a car that needs to be harnessed.
A 2.0-litre flat-four boxer engine is housed under the bonnet, and this is connected to a six-speed manual gearbox. It whips up 200ps at 7000rpm which, unified with the GT86’s stability, makes it one of the most absorbing non-turbo sportscars to buy.
Be geared up for people to check you and your car out, too; I was asked if I was behind the tiller of the Lexus LC500. Sometimes I wonder if folks can read – the coupé patently has GT86 inscribed on it. But, hey, at least curiosity is being shown – and that’s got to be a good sign for an automaker in this day and age.
Fast Facts: GT86 Blue Edition 2.0 Manual + Performance Pack – as tested
- Max speed: 140mph
- 0-62 mph: 7.6 secs
- Combined mpg: 36.2
- Engine: 1998cc 4-cylinder petrol
- Max. power (ps): 200
- CO2: 183 g/km
- Price: £30,480 on the road