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Toyota GT 86 vs rivals

Toyota is returning to its sports car roots – but is the all-new GT 86 a match for key rivals from Audi and Nissan?

Toyota GT 86 vs rivals

Some cars are so enjoyable from behind the wheel that you drive them purely for fun. It’s something that’s been lacking from Toyotas of late, but the new GT 86 is set to change that. Designed to offer a classic sports car experience, the GT 86 takes inspiration from some of the great Toyota sports cars of the past, including the 2000GT and Celica. It was developed in partnership with Subaru, and the rear-wheel-drive, boxer-engined coupe promises thrill-a-minute motoring. But it faces stiff competition. The Audi TT is hard to ignore, especially as the entry-level 1.8 TFSI makes it more affordable than ever. Plus it’s great to drive and cheap to run. For old-school excitement, there’s little to beat the Nissan 370Z. It costs more than the GT 86, but it offers big V6 performance and traditional rear-drive handling. We headed for some of the best roads in the UK to see which one of our contenders takes the top spot. 

Verdict

The Toyota GT 86 is a back-to-basics sports car that follows a classic recipe to deliver a smile-a-minute driving experience. It’s the sort of car that makes you seek out a twisty road rather than take the direct route – and it wins this test. But only by the smallest of margins – because we think the 1.8 TFSI is the best TT in the range. The engine is punchy, refined and efficient. The Audi handles like a hot hatch, plus it’s comfortable, has a great cabin and is cheaper to own than its rivals. However, the fact that the agile Toyota is surprisingly refined and easy to live with narrowly keeps it ahead of the stylish TT. Unfortunately, aside from its power advantage, the more expensive Nissan 370Z is comprehensively outclassed and comes third. Toyota has proved that it has rediscovered some of its sparkle and the GT 86 is our pick. Winner: Toyota GT 86 ★★★★★ The beautifully engineered GT 86 offers the sort of engagement normally reserved for cars like the Lotus Elise. The boxer engine loves working hard and the handling is near perfect. Yet despite its focus it rides well, and the cabin is comfortable, if a little dated. 2nd: Audi TT ★★★★★ It doesn’t have the traditional rear-wheel-drive balance and engagement of the Toyota, but the front-driven TT is composed, fast and fun. Part coupe, part stylised hot hatch, its lower emissions make it the best company car choice, and with a decent boot, it’s the most practical. 3rd: Nissan 370Z ★★★ On paper, the rear-wheel-drive, V6-engined Nissan has all the right ingredients to succeed in this test. Unfortunately its gruff engine, hefty weight and poorly controlled chassis let it down. Although it’s the fastest car here, it’s also the most expensive to buy and own.

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