Toyota GT 86 Orange Edition review

The GT 86 Orange Edition is the first of Toyota's 'Club Series' specials. We've taken it for a drive

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The GT 86 Orange Edition injects a little extra visual excitement and desirability into Toyota’s old-school sports car. But at £795, all you’re paying for is paint. It remains excellent fun even five years on, but the rear-driven thrills are tainted with slightly old-fashioned infotainment and switchgear. And no trim tweaks can hide that.

How do you keep an ageing car fresh alongside more modern rivals? A facelift is one way of separating old from new, but special editions can also inject a little extra life into familiar faces.

Toyota’s GT 86 has been around since 2012, and in what has become an admittedly small market, it’s still one of the best cheap, simple, rear-wheel-drive sports cars around. This year, the GT 86 – alongside its sister car, the Subaru BRZ – has benefitted from a mid-facelift to battle some emerging grey hairs, but Toyota is also issuing a range of new special edition models too.

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The first to arrive is this: the GT 86 Orange Edition. It’s the first of a planned run of limited edition versions of Toyota’s trusty sports car, which will all be sold under new ‘Club Series’ branding. As the name suggests, this GT 86 gets an orange makeover, along with plenty of standard equipment.

The first thing you’ll notice is that bright metallic paint – indeed it’s quite hard to miss. The Orange Edition car is based on the GT 86 ‘Pro’ model, meaning you’ll get a modestly proportioned rear spoiler on the boot lid, too. It’s painted a contrasting black, alongside black mirror caps and shiny anthracite 17-inch alloy wheels. Styling is subjective, but if you want a GT 86 that’s a bit more eye-catching than the slightly subtle standard coupe, the Orange Edition ticks all the right boxes.

The makeover continues inside with more orange-tinted tweaks. The excellent sports seats are trimmed in leather and Alcantara, while contrasting orange stitching is found almost everywhere in the cabin. The final touch is the addition of suede panels on the doors and dashboard.

In terms of equipment, Toyota’s Touch2 infotainment setup is mounted in the middle of the dashboard. It’s a seven-inch screen and remains fairly responsive to the touch. The graphics are outdated, however, and navigating through the sub-menus isn’t as slick as it could be.

Elsewhere, some of the switchgear on show in the GT 86 is beginning to feel its age, too, such as the old-fashioned seven-segment displays. On the upside, this facelifted car does get the new 4.2-inch display embedded in the instrument panel, but newer rivals like the Mazda MX-5 feel cleaner inside.

Equipment is rounded off with a standard-fit DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, as well a USB port, heated front seats, cruise control and dual-zone climate control. All this equipment comes as standard on the GT 86 Pro, which costs a significant £795 less. You’re paying for the paint, really.

Five years on, the GT 86 hasn’t lost its touch from behind the wheel. The low-slung seating position is combined with plenty of adjustability in the seat and steering wheel, so most drivers can set themselves up to enjoy the exploitative chassis and engaging handling on offer.

The steering feels alive the second you clamp down on the wheel, and there’s a wonderful short action to the gearbox. As ever, though, the GT 86’s weak point is the slightly flat 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine. While 197bhp is enough in most modern hot hatches, the lack of a turbo means a Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport feels much quicker. It’s more practical, too.

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