Toyota GT 86

28 Nov, 2012 10:00am

Surprised to see a Toyota win our Performance Car of the Year title? Don’t be. The GT 86 marks a triumphant return to form for the world’s biggest car maker.

This is a back-to-basics sports car that follows a classic recipe to deliver a wonderfully engaging driving experience. From the moment you get behind the wheel, it’s clear this car has been designed and developed by true driving enthusiasts.

An incredible 91 per cent of components are unique to the GT 86, and when Toyota conceived it, three rules were set in stone: it had to have rear-wheel drive, no turbocharging and normal tyres.

Helped by its relatively small wheels and near-perfect weight distribution, it provides the sort of natural driver engagement usually reserved for cars like the Lotus Elise. All the controls are beautifully weighted with great feedback, while every input from the throttle and steering results in a crisp response.

Body control is superb, the brakes have plenty of bite and the manual gearbox slots happily from ratio to ratio, while the boxer engine relishes hard work.

The car is engaging at safe road speeds, yet playfully driftable at the track, and you could drive the GT 86 all day and not get bored as its handling is so accurate.

It’s fine for everyday use, too. It’s comfy, doesn’t ride too badly and has a faultless driving position – even the boot is a decent size.

So is it perfect? Well, the cabin’s a little old-fashioned and some people will crave more performance, but there’s real magic on display here.

Better still, the affordable price tag and five-year warranty mean Toyota’s new sports car appeals to your head as well as your heart. It’s a very worthy performance car champion.

Behind the wheel

Owen Mildenhall, Senior road tester

In an age when many performance cars filter your interaction with the road in the pursuit of meaningless lap times, the Toyota GT 86 stands out. Drive it on the limit, and you can feel the effect of every input from the steering, throttle and brake pedal. Accurate, fun and vice free, this is a car that makes you long for a twisty road every time you slide into the driver’s seat.

Disqus - noscript

Toyota GT 86
"Performance car of the
year" that’s some Statement, well where is the performance ?, 0-62 in 7.5sec is slow in this day And age, pick a 1980's hot hatch and it would easily rival this.

Next, drivability, it must be a huge task to extract the performance from this car, put you boot down in 4th gear at 30 mph and nothing happens, that’s because the measly 205nm of torque doesn’t arrive until 6400 rpm.

The focus with a 1.0 litre engine produces 200nm of torque on over boost and most of that is available from 2000 rpm. Most modern diesel cars would out perform this in every way.
Enough said!

When Nintendo unveiled the Wii games console, they were derided by people who could not grasp the concept that gaming wasn't about frame rates or computing power. Nintendo claimed that Gaming was about having fun, and in order to take that to its logical conclusion, they would have to start from scratch, ignore the race for ever higher computing power in their hardware, and build a system that reminded people how to enjoy themselves. To this day, despite its phenomenal success, people still don't get it.
A few years ago, the photographic industry had managed to convince itself and the public that the number of megapixels a camera offered was the be all and end all of the business, then Panasonic thought "hold on a minute, surely this can't be right?". They then decided to build a point and shoot camera, with a really good lens, processor, sensor, and manual controls, who's sole purpose was to produce fantastic looking pictures. £350 for a point and shoot with only 10 megapixels and a 2.5X zoom? Were they mental? Nobody's going to buy that! How wrong they were! The Lumia LX3 tore up the rule book and focused solely on the quality of the images it produced. None of the "experts" saw it coming and there are still "pixel peepers" that would deny its greatness because they are stuck in the old mindset.
Now do you undertand what Toyota and Subaru have done with this car, or are you still a pixel peeping, Wii denialist?
Let me spell it out - Toyota couldn't give a flying f**k about the 0-60. That is not the "performance" they are looking for.
I will confidently predict that this car will change everything in the world of performance motoring and will force all the automotive designers to go back to the drawing board and come up with their own visionary products, unihibited by what has gone before. What a wonderful thought!

They should of called it drivers car of the year, not performance car of the year. Lets see how many they sell a year. Good luck toyota, just hope the brakes work !

Key specs

  • Price: £24,995
  • Engine: 2.0-litre flat four
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
  • Peak power: 197bhp at 7,000rpm
  • Peak torque: 205Nm at 6,400rpm
  • 0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 140mph
  • Kerb weight: 1,240kg
  • Lap time: 68.4 seconds
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