Toyota GT 86
The entertaining GT 86 outguns a host of big-name sports cars to take Performance Car of the Year
This year’s performance car hero proves you don’t have to spend a fortune to have huge fun behind the wheel.
With its beautifully balanced handling, characterful flat-four engine and eye-catchingly low list price, the GT 86 emerged as surprise champion of our annual fast car shoot-out.
This victory was made sweeter by the fact that the compact coupé beat a whole host of thoroughbred sports cars, including the Porsche Boxster, Lotus Exige and Mercedes SL63 AMG – all of which cost two or three times as much.
On paper, the GT 86’s modest 197bhp power output and average 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds look inadequate. Yet this car adds up to a lot more than the sum of its parts.
At the heart of its appeal is the superbly entertaining and engaging handling. A traditional rear-driven layout and controls that fizz with feedback make the Toyota incredible fun on a twisting back road, while the use of skinny tyres from the Prius hybrid allows you to enjoy the car’s poise and balance at any speed.
Better still, it has an uncanny ability to match your mood, allowing you to drive either neat and tidily on the road, or indulge in flamboyant, yet progressive, tail slides at a track day.
And while the engine struggles to match the average hot hatch’s pace, it loves to be worked hard and emits an aggressive growl at high revs.
Smooth brakes, a precise gearshift and a nicely supple ride complete the picture.
The GT 86 is more than a one-trick pony, though. For instance, it has a roomy and well specced cabin, as well as rock-solid reliability and a five-year warranty. Factor in the £24,995 price, and it’s not hard to see why this brilliant car is our winner.
- 1Introduction18 class winners, 36 commended cars, 8 Special Awards and the 2013 Auto Express Car of the Year – it's all here
- 2Car of the YearThe most coveted accolade in the world of motoring goes to the SEAT Leon
- 3Best City CarThe Skoda Citigo retains its Best City Car crown thanks to a combination of comfort, low running costs and superb on-road ability
- 4Best SuperminiThe Ford Fiesta wrestles its way back onto the top of the podium after last year's loss to the 208
- 5Best Compact Family CarThe SEAT Leon fights off its fellow VW Group rivals to take the gold medal in one of the most competitive classes around
- 6Best Family CarThe new Mazda 6 sees of all-comers to take family car class honours
- 7Best Estate CarOffering peerless practicality, huge value for money and attractive lines, the Skoda Octavia is the best Estate on the market
- 8Best Five-Seat MPVFord's innovative small MPV pips its big brother – the C-MAX – to the Best Five-seat MPV award
- 9Best MPVFor the third year in a row, the SEAT Alhambra wins the Auto Express Best MPV award
- 10Best CrossoverThe Mazda CX-5 is a talented all-rounder that offers everything you could want from a crossover
- 11Best Compact SUVThe Range Rover Evoque is one of the most striking cars on the road – but it's also more than just a pretty face
- 12Best Large SUVThe talented Santa Fe is one of the best models Hyundai has ever produced
- 13Best Hot HatchThe Ford Fiesta ST is in a class of its own – and better value for money than its key rivals
- 14Best CoupeThe brilliant Porsche Cayman pips its big brother - the 911 – and three-time winner the Peugeot RCZ to the Best Coupe prize
- 15Best RoadsterThe new Porsche Boxster is so good it makes you question why anyone would every buy a 911