Launched in 2012, the Toyota 86 marked Toyota’s highly anticipated return to the compact sports car market after the retirement of the much-loved Celica in 2006.
Developed alongside Subaru, the 86 launched with great expectations to a public with fond memories of the AE86 Corolla, Supra and MR2.
The 86 has been flying out of showrooms since its launch and with some recent tweaks for 2015, I took a spin in the latest model to find out why everyone is raving about Toyota’s triumphant return.
As you would expect from a sports coupe, the interior has been stripped back to focus on the essentials, and Toyota has made a concerted effort to include creature comforts that add to your drive rather than weigh it down unnecessarily.
Touch screen sat-nav, reversing camera, keyless entry with push-button start and LED daylight running lights are standard on the GTS. Switches and dials are all about function over form, while the steering wheel sits practically perpendicular to your knees to allow for a more race-like drive.
One of the main things you’ll notice about the 86 is that it hugs the road by sitting low. Thanks to the low centre of gravity, you’ll get much more feedback from the car – perfect for commuters who want more from their daily drive.
This is where the Toyota 86 shines.
On paper, the 86 doesn’t look like a standout with 147kw of power, and 205Nm of torque – but jump in to the driver’s seat and I dare you not to have fun.
Toyota has engineered the 86 for drivers, which is obvious when you take off from a standstill. Some of it has to do with the meagre kerb weight of only 1298kg (1275kg in the manual) which gives the 86 one of the best power-to-weight ratios in its class.
Steering feedback delivers precision unheard of in a car this side of $50,000 – to use a cliché – you’ll feel at one with road. Because the 86 sits so low to the road, there’s an immediacy to the drive that puts it ahead of other sports coupes, especially at its price point.
And while the 86 has great road manners, it is willing to play along with any mischief. You’ll want to come up on as many corners as possible, and make the most out of the rear wheel drive. Thankfully, a host of safety features on board will stop things from getting too hairy.
If you need a family car to regularly seat four, don’t buy an 86.
If you need a dynamic sports coupe that also works as an economical daily drive, you should buy an 86 yesterday.
The back seat is strictly for short trips – rear legroom will be compromised by anyone above average height looking to push their seat back. The official word from Toyota is that anyone up to 170cm will be comfortable back there, but I’m sure even they’ll start to get cramped on anything longer than a trip to the shops.
One upside of the back seats is that there are ISOFIX anchor points for child seats; so trying to justify an 86 in the family budget becomes a lot easier – just remember that babies grow up and want legroom…eventually.
Seven airbags, as well as vehicle stability control, traction control and electronic braking assistance are standard.
The 86 also won’t drink anything other than 98RON premium unleaded, so make sure you save up those shopper dockets.
The 86 has a two model line-up (GT or GTS) in Australia, with your choice of either manual (standard) and automatic ($2800) in either trim.
The entry level GT starts at $29,990 for the manual, topping out at $39,290 for the GTS Automatic as tested.
All prices are Recommended Retail Price (RRP) and exclude dealer delivery, stamp duty and registration costs.
The 86 is a car for drivers. There’s a reason Australians are the third highest buyer of 86’s in the world - the precision, the feedback and the pure fun mean that you can’t help smiling when you blast down a highway.
Interested in a test drive? Motorama Toyota is the place to be - so make sure you come and see the Motorama Toyota team in Moorooka or Browns Plains.Visit dealership
When it comes to buying a new car, we believe that nothing should stand between you and the thrill of the drive. Which is why we've made sure you're protected by a minimum five-year unlimited kilometre warranty that covers any part, panel and accessory made by Toyota.Read more