Toyota GT 86 review

Our Rating: 
5
5.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Toyota GT 86 combines great fun and excellent value in a good-looking package

For: 
Competitive prices, brilliant handling, accurate steering
Against: 
Slightly gutless engine, cheap interior plastics, poor economy

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The Toyota GT 86 is an excellent choice for driving enthusiasts. The Japanese manufacturer has combined its legendary reliability with a low price and rear-wheel-drive layout to make one of the best handling sports cars on sale today.

Powered by a 2.0-litre 197bhp Boxer engine, the Toyota GT 86 isn't the most powerful sportscar on the market - especially when you compare it to the similarly priced 324bhp Nissan 370Z, which also gets a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive lay out - but its low weight and excellent handling make it massively fun to drive.

The Toyota GT 86 is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox (go for the manual), but there's another choice you could go for. The Subaru BRZ is an identical car, so buyers have the luxury of choosing which dealer they’d prefer to buy from and which badge they’d like on the bonnet.

Toyota GT 86 vs rivals

The Audi TT is also an alternative to the Toyota GT 86 and the Subaru BRZ but the low price of the both of the ’Toyobaru’ cars means they're better value. The Subaru BRZ is now cheaper than a manual Toyota GT 86 thanks to a £2,500 discount and has more exclusivity. Toyota, however, has a wider dealership network should anything go wrong.

Both Toyota and Subaru scored very well in the 2014 Driver Power manufacturer survey and ranked 17th and 16th respectively.

Toyota also makes a tuned Toyota Racing Development (TRD) version of the GT 86, which adds some tuning parts and has a more aggressive looks. However, it's very pricey.

Our choice: GT 86 2.0 2dr Manual

Styling

4.5

The Toyota GT 86 is a traditional looking sports car with aggressive styling, which includes a long bonnet and a short tail, plus a large front grille and rear splitter with twin exhausts. The Subaru BRZ is virtually indistinguishable aside from the badges.

The Audi TT has a more premium feel and appearance, especially on the inside, but the way the Toyota GT 86's looks reflects its personality of the car - it's fun.

The interior of the Toyota GT 86 is full of cheap looking plastics, but the layout (flick switches, for example) and the mock-carbon fibre trim make it feel like a road-going racer.

The Toyota GT 86 TRD gets an even more aggressive body kit, which has a different front spoiler, side skirts and special 18-inch alloy wheels.

Driving

5

With its low price and impressive handling, there isn't much that comes close to beating the Toyota GT 86 for driving enjoyment at such a low cost.

The rear-wheel drive chassis on the Toyota GT 86 is perfectly balanced, and the low weight of the car means it excels in corners. There's loads of feedback from the steering, and the GT 86's brakes are strong without biting, meaning the driver gets loads of confidence when driving quickly.

Toyota GT 86 interior

Although the interior can get a bit noisy at speed, the Toyota GT 86 manages to be decent on the motorway as the ride isn't too harsh. The 2.0-litre flat-four boxer engine generates 197bhp and to keep the power flowing, the Toyota GT 86's gearbox needs to be worked quite hard - but keen drivers won't mind too much.

The Nissan 370Z offers much more torque than the GT 86, and some may prefer its muscular 324bhp V6 engine to the free-revving unit in the Toyota.

However, if you’re prepared to push for performance, then the GT 86 can offer an extremely rewarding drive.

Reliability

4.5

Toyota has a great track record for building reliable cars, so the GT 86 shouldn't be any different.

The interior plastics do feel a bit cheap, but on the whole the Toyota GT 86 is well made and should stand the test of time just as well as any other car from the Japanese manufacturer.

As for safety, the Toyota GT 86 gets seven airbags, stability control and a limited-slip differential (for better grip in corners) as standard. It has yet to be tested by Euro NCAP.

Practicality

4

Given the Toyota GT 86 is a coupe, it has four seats. However, it's 2+2 layout means they are only really able to seat small children and with tall passengers in the front, there is zero per cent legroom in thge rear.

The seats are comfortable, however, and even on longer journeys, there's plenty of space in the front. With a 243-litre boot, the Toyota GT 86 is less practical for trips away than the Audi TT (which gets 292 litres), but it’s a useful shape and can accommodate a surprising amount of shopping.

The Toyota could easily still be used as a daily driver, providing nobody needs to sit in the back - though there are actually Isofix child seat fixings in the back if you've got very small children.

Running Costs

3.8

Despite its small 2.0-litre engine, the Toyota GT 86 is quite expensive to run. The six-speed manual version returns just 36.2mpg and emits 181g/km of CO2.

To put it into perspective, a similarly specced Audi TT with the 1.8-litre TFSI petrol engine returns 44.1mpg. The Audi is also more efficient thanks to emissions of 149g/km.

The Toyota GT 86 with the automatic gearbox has slightly better figures. It manages 39.8mph and emits 164g/km. Anyway, we don't think you should be buying a Toyota GT 86 if you're worried about running costs - go for the manual. You'll have more fun and the car will go faster, too.

Servicing and maintenance costs should be reasonable for the Toyota GT 86 and all models come with Toyota's five-year warranty.

Disqus - noscript

Surely they'd have put more power in it, you look at the styling and you think it's gonna be packing a punch, but only 197hp, disappointing

Its not about raw power its got brilliant handling ,a proper drivers car ,Does not need excessive power .Its been voted by so many as the best handling car in the last 10 years

Like to see a comparo with an MX5, maybe even a three-way, with the old MGB-GT included.

Still one of my favourite cars of the moment.

Why is an Audi more desirable?
Only if you love Audis, I don't.

I love Toyotas......

Stop this stupid German Car back hander praising, I have had an Audi, I got rid of it, it was terrible, totally unreliable (4 year old A8) and no where near as well built as my 20 year old Gt-Four....

Indeed, why ruin a good review with shameless German plugs....we all know you have to, but not in every non-German car that offers a threat. The Gt-86 cannot be compared to a Golf/beetle with a squashed roof...the Gt-86 was designed as a sports car from the off, not a VW euro box with redesigned panels, re-using engines and drivetrain from such exotica as the Octavia, the Leon and the wonderful Golf plus.

Nonsense!

Yes, it's obviously a keen driver's car. It gets to 60 a whole 2.8 seconds faster than a Prius, consumes twice as much fuel with a quarter the internal space whilst making much more noise. Keen drivers really know what they're talking about. Brrm! Brrm! Brrm!

Evidently you don't.

You just had to mention Audi.

Especially as I know from experience the quoted Audi TT mpg figures are "very optimistic" to put it mildly.

The reason the fuel consumption is only mediocre ( at best ), is because the gearing is very low geared to try and compensate for the real lack of low speed torque in the engine. You have to keep it up about 4500 revs to get any real power which means hanging onto the lower gears to get some decent acceleration. It needs a turbo version of the boxer engine and raised gearing.

Last updated: 12 May, 2014
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