We find out if the Toyota GT86 really is a sports car without the sports car price tag writes Geraldine Herbert
What is it? Toyota has been promising to build a sports car for the past few years and finally the wait is over. Co-developed with Subaru, who incidentally supplied the flat-four boxer engine, developed the chassis and built the car finished with a dash of styling from Toyota. The result is the rear-wheel-drive Toyota GT86 coupé. (Subaru’s version is known as the BRZ)
Who is it aimed at? Fans of affordable, rear-wheel drive sports coupés will adore this car but it will put a smile on anyone lucky enough to find themselves behind its wheel.
Styling? With its sculpted roof, side window shape and rear wheel arches the GT86 is an aggressive looking car and while the styling is not to our taste there are few mainstream cars that have the same visual impact.
Under the Bonnet? On paper the coupé is deceptively dull with a 2-litre engine producing 200bhp and 205Nm of torque, just enough to get you from 0 to 100 in less than eight seconds. But two aspects immediately set the GT86 apart; rear wheel drive and a boxer engine. Essentially what this means is that in contrast to most engines that have four cylinders standing in a row, a boxer engine, the traditional engine design at Porsche, lays the cylinders out flat, two on each side of the engine which in turn enhances the car’s centre of gravity.
What’s it like inside? Once inside the word utilitarian springs to mind; while not quite Spartan it’s certainly minimal. The cabin is snug and the front bucket seats are comfortable. While there is plenty of head and legroom it is all very dark apart from the red stitched detailing and industrial black plastic features throughout. The rear seats are best reserved for laptops or handbags as occupants need to be very small or bribed!
On the Road? Press the start button and instantly the flat-four engine emits a hoarse, deep-throated promising growl when revved but it is on the road where the GT86 exceeds all expectations. It is razor-sharp with ultra responsive well-weighted steering, it tackles bends with supreme conviction and the ride while firm is never punishing. It is agile both in city traffic and on the open road it is a sheer delight.
And Safety? The GT86 has not yet been tested by the EuroNCAP for safety but there is nothing that should be an issue as it has a full complement of safety features. Standard equipment includes 7 airbags, ABS brakes, electronic stability control, brake assist and traction control.
Options? Options include a choice between manual or automatic transmission. There is also a choice of seven exterior colours; Satin White Pearl, Dark Grey, Crystal Black Silica and Sterling Silver, Lightning Red, Galaxy Blue Silica and a Toyota-unique Metallic Fusion Orange.
How about Fuel Economy? Fuel economy is not the best and the official figure is 7.8 litres/ 100km for a combined cycle. The 181g/km CO2 emissions means it’s a substantial €750 per year for motor tax.
Okay so the verdict? At a time when modern sports cars are mobile displays of electronic aids, computer wizardry and sheer force the pared down approach of the GT86 is a testament to back to basics motoring. Sports cars have always been about one thing, not power or speed, but balance and this is the delight of this car, is it just so pure in its response and it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best car we’ve driven this year.
Why you’ll buy one: Handling; Price; Fun
Why you won’t: Limited Space; Ugly styling; Redundant back seats
Ford Focus ST – €35,170
Audi TT – €42,660
Engine: 1998cc, flat 4 cylinder layout putting out 147kW(200bhp) and 205Nm of torque between 6,400 – 6,600rpm
Max speed: 226km/h
Emissions (motor tax): 181g/km (€750)
Starting price: €41,085
Model price range: €41,085– €41,600 (Test Car €41,085)
No of Doors: 2
Euro NCAP: Not yet been tested by Euro NCAP
Fuel type: Petrol
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 7.8l/100km
Boot Capacity Seats up: 243 Litres
Car Seats: 2 Isofix fittings but you will struggle to access them!
12th December, 2012