End Of The Road

Af­ter five months we farewell our Toy­ota 86

Motor (Australia) - - THE GARAGE -

FIVE IN­STAL­MENTS and more than 5000km across two vari­ants of Toy­ota’s up­dat­ed­for-2017 86 and we can re­port that it’s ba­si­cally the same car as launched in 2012, but the in­te­rior tweaks, con­cen­trated on the GTS, make it just that much nicer to live with.

And the brand new chas­sis elec­tron­ics – ESP and trac­tion con­trol – are game-chang­ing in that more peo­ple who buy the 86 are able to en­joy its won­der­ful han­dling with a safety net in­tact. Pre­vi­ously the elec­tron­ics would in­ter­vene so clum­sily and abruptly you had to turn them off to prop­erly en­joy a fast drive. Which would leave you ex­posed. For­tu­nately, not any­more.

Aside from those two things, the up­dated 86 re­ally just looks a lit­tle nicer (thanks to a new front bar, rear spoiler and 17-inch wheel de­sign) and goes a lit­tle harder, thanks to bumped-up out­puts (up 5kW and 7Nm to 152kW/212Nm) and a shorter fi­nal drive in the man­ual mod­els. Prices are also up slightly ($800 for GT, now $30,790; and $500 for the man­ual GTS, now $36,490) for what has been a mild but ef­fec­tive up­date on the now five-year old 86.

Would we buy one? Yes, of course – a GTS ide­ally. The en­gine is still as dull, unin­spir­ing-sound­ing and limp be­low 6500rpm as ever (7400rpm red­line) and in­deed it re­mains a gripe of the car. While it does the job in the higher revs, mak­ing for a sur­pris­ingly quick clip, it is very dif­fi­cult to feel af­fec­tion for it. But it’s more than made up for by the han­dling. If you love driv­ing, par­tic­u­larly in a reardrive set­ting, the 86 is still eas­ily one the most fun and sat­is­fy­ing cor­ner­ing de­vices un­der $100,000.

There is a slight trade-off, and an­other long-term gripe – this is still a bumpy-rid­ing car. We dream of the day Toy­ota fits adap­tive dampers to its 86 like a VW Polo GTI or Golf GTI, but we are in­deed dream­ing. If the 86 had a nicer ‘Com­fort-mode’ ride, it would be the whole pack­age.

De­spite any com­plaints, one con­clu­sion I’ve reached is that I will own an 86 one day. A used one. Even now there are so many for sale with full ser­vice his­to­ries, less than 75,000km in mint con­di­tion and owned by peo­ple who – not to judge books by their cov­ers – would rarely go over 5000rpm. And the mar­ket is slowly fill­ing with used 86s, driv­ing down prices. The cheap­est used 86 I could find on­line was a 2013 GT for $16,500. In five years they will start dip­ping be­low $10,000.

If your idea of driv­ing thrills doesn’t re­quire 600 horse­power, an 86 might be all the sports car you need. I’ve had as much fun driv­ing an 86 (or BRZ) as I have had driv­ing a Fer­rari 488 or Porsche 911 GT3. While those cars are un­doubt­edly much more ex­cit­ing, the hum­ble 86 knows how to please when you ar­rive on a twisty road.

Buy a new GTS for the daily grind and you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate the slightly jazzed-up in­te­rior; and, when push­ing the en­ve­lope a lit­tle bit, the smarter chas­sis elec­tron­ics which you no longer have to fully de­ac­ti­vate like the first gen­er­a­tion sys­tems.

Or buy a GT, fit a half cage, up­grade the brakes and fit wheels in a size that can han­dle a tyre like the Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport Cup2 or Bridge­stone RE-71R. Adding grip to an 86 should make it much more fun. And if that doesn’t make sense to you, con­sider that a red flag that you might never be sat­is­fied with the 86’s level of power.

The hum­ble Toy­ota 86 knows how to sat­isfy some­one who loves their rear-drive han­dling

This is as fun as cars get. Sim­ple En­gine im­pos­si­ble to fall in love with Toy­ota de­signed th­ese side vents to be easy and quick to swap out for af­ter­mar­ket ones, for easy cus­tomi­sa­tion

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