The sports segment is changing, the penalty is better than many small sports cars, but not at Toyota, which in France offers the GR86, an affordable drive coupe with a naturally aspirated engine and manual transmission. A car that settles for simple pleasures.
When you first discover this GR86, you are greeted with a sporty yet simple design. With a long hood, a low and compact passenger compartment and a sporty diffuser, the GT86 has the proportions of its predecessor. But this new generation of “hachiroku”, as the Japanese call it, brings something new to this design. The front bumper receives a large air intake flanked by two functional vents to cool the brakes. Beyond this shield, black background optics give character to this faceplate. The front fenders have air extractors that direct the flow so they take advantage of the protruding sills with aero interests.
We also noticed that the rear wings were shaped, adding a more sensual aspect to the 86 before it came to a trunk that is overtaken by an integrated spoiler. Finally, the sporty aspect of the design is embellished with two very large diameter exhaust pipes.
At first glance, the 86 can be described as a sports car aimed at driving enthusiasts without overdoing it. Coming with a job interview doesn’t leave a bad impression.
The passenger compartment is in the same vein, sober and straight forward. With a readable and clear digital meter background, the driver quickly finds the essentials for driving, adapting the display by showing key information such as track mode, oil temperature or lap time.
This instrumentation is accompanied by a touchscreen including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In terms of comfort indicators, there are heated seats, 2 automatic power windows, steering wheel controls, dual-zone automatic air conditioning. The equipment is not the richest, but the necessary things are available. We can criticize that the cruise control isn’t adaptive or equipped with lane keeping assist, but it’s always less of a deactivation when approaching a winding road. Criticisms can be made about the particularly cramped rear seats, but they have the virtue of being present and can be helpful.
It also offers a large enough loadspace to fit inside, suitcases, a bike or at least two tires, knowing that the 226-liter trunk can be expanded with a folding seat. The GR86 becomes an everyday imaginable car for a childless person or a couple.
Is it fun to drive?
It is easy to find the driving position with a low seat behind the steering wheel, and taller people will not be bothered. The driver’s seat is height adjustable and the steering column is also movable. This allows you to adjust the headrest correctly before you realize it’s too stiff, forcing the driver to stay upright. But once it’s stopped properly, it’s time to revive the car by pressing the keyless “GR” start button.
As we leave our base, Sevilla, for these two days, the sound from the rear axle is surprising and betrays a slight soundproofing explained by the weight hunt. You hear a lot of tire contact in bitumen, which can be uncomfortable during a long journey on degraded tar. All in all, it’s not terribly offensive as the GR86 isn’t meant to be a road.
Indeed, his main occupation is driving pleasure. Especially on winding roads where it excels. In this playground, the gearbox control is excellent, with short guidance and tight locks, it is perfectly at hand. Seat support is also very good.
Trying to pay attention to its trajectory, braking and acceleration at the slightest cornering surprised us. The car asks to dance with thoughtful and easy-to-grip shifts from the rear axle thanks to the fitting of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires on 215/40/18. Track mode makes VSC traction control freer, and it’s fun to get into a hairpin and try to put it on a slide. If the driver is overwhelmed, VSC steps in to level the vehicle.
Driving pleasure is emphasized by the new FA24 engine, this 4-cylinder straight 2.4-liter remains atmospheric and now gains 34 horsepower and torque as it reaches 250 Nm at 3,700 rpm. The increase in performance is remarkable, it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds and reaches 226 km/h at top speed. Enough mechanics to move 1,280kg of all in a sporty way. Power seems to be coming in at around 4,000rpm and this engine is a real pleasure to whip into its red zone above 7,000rpm, with transmission control accentuating that enjoyment. Similarly, circle 4’s particular noise, which appears to be coming from the air intake rather than the exhaust, adds to the experience, although it’s supported by audible feedback from the speakers. The torque gain and peak placed much lower than the GT86 allow you to drive dynamically without getting the blade between your teeth.
We had the opportunity to try the GR86 at the Monteblanco circuit in Andalusia. The playful behavior of the car is highlighted and affirmed. The car likes to turn thanks to the well-distributed weight balance, with 53% of the weight on the front axle and 47% on the rear axle, but at the same time a very low center of gravity, the lowest value for a 4-seater car to date. . A result of using aluminum for the roof and bodywork. It remains relatively stable under heavy braking, is easy to steer thanks to the well-grip front axle and direct steering, and above all, it’s very easy to slip when accelerating. We’ve deliberately put in a lot of stuff for fun, but you have to be good to complete a clean lap. So the GR86 knows how to make pilot progress while remaining agile and communicative, especially thanks to its short wheelbase of 2m57 and compact size of 4m26, this generation remains a true school of propulsion.
Two emotions are felt behind the wheel of this Toyota GR86. First, it makes you think you’re playing Takumi Fujiwara from Initial D, behind the wheel of the GR86’s grandfather, the Toyota AE86, who descends Mount Akina extremely fast. Second, it forces you to jealously guard the keys to what turns out to be one of the last cars of its kind. So yeah, it’s not flawless, it’s flawed by the slight soundproofing, the headrest that hurts your head, the sometimes average finishes, and an unintuitive turn-signal control, which we so forgive. . We can only thank Toyota for offering the GR86 at an affordable price of €33,900… This should add 50% of the price penalty, ie €16,950, to the turnkey price of €50,850 and €53 to €190. 6-speed automatic transmission version. There is a price that is high in the end, but does happiness have a price?
If the GR86 entices you, head to a Toyota dealership to have it next fall because only 16 vehicles are planned in France this year. Maybe a little more in 2023 due to demand, and the end of career is scheduled for the summer of 2023, when the Toyota GR86 will no longer be able to meet the new European-imposed requirements in terms of safety.