Evo­lu­tion un­der way

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIVE THINGS -

The 86 is still one of the most en­joy­able cars you can buy. Point it at a bit of twist­ing road and you’re guar­an­teed to be smil­ing at the end of the drive. The steer­ing is sharp and di­rect and the car feels in­cred­i­bly ag­ile and well bal­anced through cor­ners. Sit­ting low, you can feel ex­actly what the car is do­ing through the seat of your pants. It’s a raw, go-kart like ex­pe­ri­ence, helped by the fact the tyres fit­ted to it are built for fun rather than grip. But … shared with Subaru’s BRZ, sim­ply doesn’t suit the car. On pa­per it looks up to the job, with 147kW of power, but it feels as if you’re wring­ing its neck even when you’re not. The tacho runs out to 9000rpm, peak power is at 7000rpm but a red shift light starts flash­ing when you reach about 6500rpm. Sports car en­gines are sup­posed to rev and sing — this one feels like it’s protest­ing most of the time. The fake en­gine noise piped into the cabin doesn’t help. A small turbo could de­liver more punch with far less thirst. 86 has aged well. Sub­tle styling tweaks have given it a more mod­ern look with­out in­ter­fer­ing with the clas­sic shape. The most ob­vi­ous change with the new model is a black rear spoiler on our GTS test car. Spoil­ers can look like a bolted-on af­ter­thought but this one looks good. The cabin feels sporty, although the cen­tre screen looks af­ter­mar­ket and the leather steer­ing wheel feels slip­pery.

you’re not as flex­i­ble as you once were, then per­haps the 86 isn’t for you. The 86 is low-slung and you don’t so much slide into it as lower your­self. If you’re of a cer­tain vin­tage, in­vol­un­tary groans will ac­com­pany the process. The good news is once you’re there the seats are com­fort­able and sup­port­ive, with good side bol­ster­ing for hug­ging you in the cor­ners. The rear seats ap­pear to be there for show. You could squeeze two adults in on the pas­sen­ger side with a bit of mix and match­ing of legroom but be­hind the driver’s it’s an in­fants-only propo­si­tion.

no Porsche Cay­man but, for $37,000, the 86 GTS pro­vides a large chunk of sports car thrills for a frac­tion of the for­mer’s cost. The new model is $500 more ex­pen­sive but for that you get more data log­ging for track days, in­clud­ing a stop­watch and G-force me­tre. The new model is an evo­lu­tion­ary change at best, and the en­gine needs some se­ri­ous work but with the lim­ited bud­gets avail­able for a sports car these days, we’re happy to cut it some slack.

Richard Black­burn

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