We swap Toy­ota 86 GT for GTS

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

M140i PE spends time with its fam­ily; up­grad­ing the 86 GT

YOUR EYES don’t de­ceive you – like a Poke­mon, our Toy­ota 86 long-ter­mer has evolved from a sil­ver GT to a Ve­loc­ity Or­ange GTS, as we con­tinue to com­pre­hen­sively eval­u­ate the most re­cent up­dates to the 86 range.

And it took about two min­utes of driv­ing for a swear word to come out of our mouths. Toy­ota has not qui­etly rev­o­lu­tionised the 86’s ride as we had con­cluded from driv­ing the GT last month. It seems we should have waited un­til driv­ing the GTS on 17-inch, 45-pro­file tyres be­fore fool­ishly an­nounc­ing – hav­ing only driven the GT on 16-inch, 55-pro­file tyres – that the dif­fer­ence in ride is game-chang­ing for the 86’s daily drive­abil­ity. In­stead, we are left with two lessons: that Toy­ota’s sub­tle soft­en­ing of the 86’s rear sus­pen­sion, for its MY17 facelift, has taken a minis­cule edge off the GTS’s al­ready bumpy ride. And that we never knew 55-pro­file tyres could pro­duce such a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence in ride to 45s, although it could also be dif­fer­ences in side­wall man­u­fac­ture of the tyres. Mea culpa.

Alas, as we jig­gled along in the GTS, we were pleased to dis­cover many pos­i­tive things to talk about in the 86’s change to 2017-spec. It seems Toy­ota has lis­tened to the many and un­re­lent­ing crit­i­cisms of the 86’s cheap and cheer­ful in­te­rior, ap­par­ently spend­ing a lot of en­ergy try­ing to jazz it up. A soft, mi­cro­suede fab­ric is now used through­out the in­te­rior – on sur­faces you don’t reg­u­larly touch, wise for wear and tear – and it brings a lit­tle ‘spe­cial­ness’ into what was, and in a way still is, a place of busi­ness. Toy­ota has also in­stalled new steer­ing wheel con­trols for the stereo, and a new, lit­tle colour screen in the in­stru­ment bin­na­cle (with a com­i­cal torque graph in­clud­ing enor­mous mid-range torque hole). Plainly, the bulk of the 2017 up­dates was sunk into the GTS – not the GT.

From the per­spec­tive of a longterm test, the GTS is much nicer than the GT ow­ing to nu­mer­ous lit­tle con­ve­niences that add up. Key­less en­try, seat heaters, a bet­ter in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem (although still mad­den­ingly un­in­tu­itive, with ugly menus, and slow to re­spond to in­puts). The HVAC con­trols don’t feel like they’re from a base HiLux, the ped­als are a bit nicer, so are the seats, and the tachome­ter, and on, and on. If you’ve saved up to get an 86, or face in­tim­i­dat­ing re­pay­ments – and you plan to hang on to your 86 – try to stretch to the GTS ($30,790 vs $36,490) be­cause it’s worth it. If you are buy­ing an 86 as a toy and in­tend to show it no mercy, you may as well just get the GT. And put in some rub­ber floor mats.

To our eyes it looks bet­ter, too. While in or­ange the new front bar does make the 86 look a lit­tle like a hal­loween jack-o-lan­tern (im­pos­si­ble to un­see –sorry) it’s an ef­fec­tive freshen-up, in­clud­ing the new 17s. The metal, pro­pel­ler-blade rear wing might not be to ev­ery­one’s tastes.

Could we live with an 86? Yes, ab­so­lutely. It is ridicu­lous fun. The GTS ac­tu­ally has an in­te­rior you could live with on a daily ba­sis, and the ‘sporty’ ride is tol­er­a­ble.

Next month we broaden scope and ex­plain why the new 86 is not, to our minds, the spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to the leg­endary AE86.

GTS gets 152kW/212Nm 2.0-litre flat-four, up 4kW/9Nm on the ‘first gen­er­a­tion’ car. It shares its out­puts with the GT, but gets a lot more stan­dard kit

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