New vs Used
Toyota’s 86 spurs memories of Nissan’s bygone belter
Boost and a decade are all that separates them
The 86 produces levels of feedback not seen since the S15 200SX
YOU’VE driven front-drivers for the past decade to teach yourself heel-and-toe and lift-off oversteer. But you’re bored, and want to explore a whole new world with a rear-driver. Well, you’re spoilt for choice while Holden’s Commodore SS is still around, the Nissan 370Z waits for a Nismo spin-off, and Mazda’s MX-5 comes with two engines.
But the most focused option has to be Toyota’s 86. At slightly more than 30 grand it comes with a propshaft, revvy atmo 2.0-litre four and a modern, sorted chassis package.
Toyota’s LSD-equipped drivetrain and crystal-clear steering make it a driving delight, producing levels of feedback and rear-drive adjustability not seen since, well, the S15 Nissan 200SX – our match-up’s ‘used’ contender.
Known as the Silvia in Japan, it sold here from 1991 to 2003. It was heavily updated in ’99 for the S15 platform, scoring a six-speed manual, smaller tracks, and a helical LSD in place of a fluid-filled unit for the stiffer Spec Rs.
Its 2.0-litre turbo four was left alone, with Japan keeping an upgraded 184kW spec donk for themselves, meaning we did with a 147kW/265Nm rear-drive coupe that could run to triple figures in 6.9sec and cross the quarter mile in 14.80sec at 156.3km/h. Very similar figures, in fact, to what MOTOR first extracted from a Toyota 86.
The 200SX also relied on a lightweight chassis, underpinned by a strut-front/multi-link rear and pointed by a good steering rack, more than a decade ago to deliver the same thrills that have made the 86 such a hit.
Thanks to the Nissan’s timeless, muscular looks and turbo tuneability, few remain in original condition. But they do exist, even in lightly modified form, and would be a great discount into the 86-esque driving game.