Cruise easy or pedal hard

Mod­elled on Toy­ota’s orig­i­nal su­per­car, the 86 sports coupe is durable and, when pushed, ex­hil­a­rat­ing

The Advertiser - Motoring - - USED CAR -


Toy­ota isn’t the first name that comes to mind when think­ing about sports cars but the group has quite a his­tory of fun-filled go-fast cars go­ing right back to the 2000GT of the 1960s.

There were also the tame pre­tend mod­els like the Cel­ica and Paseo but the re­lease of the 86 coupe was cause for a re­think.

The 86 was a joint ef­fort with Subaru, the lat­ter pro­duc­ing the BRZ. Apart from some spec­i­fi­ca­tion dif­fer­ences they were the same car.

Toy­ota had two ver­sions of the four-seater, the base GT and the bet­ter-equipped GTS.

It claimed the 86 was styled af­ter the beau­ti­ful 2000GT with its long bon­net and swoopy pro­file — the 2000GT was hailed as Ja­pan’s orig­i­nal su­per­car but the 86 was a poor cousin by com­par­i­son, be­ing more func­tional and lack­ing the for­mer’s clar­ity of line.

Inside, the front oc­cu­pants en­joyed the com­fort and sup­port of sporty bucket seats but those in the rear were not so well catered for. As a 2+2, it was meant to carry rear pas­sen­gers only on the odd oc­ca­sion.

It was no sur­prise boot space was lim­ited but the rear seat backs could be folded flat to ex­pand it.

The 2.0-litre “boxer” en­gine, shared with the BRZ, ran on pre­mium un­leaded and de­liv­ered de­cent per­for­mance,

enough to give most driv­ers a thrill. Those ac­cus­tomed to high per­for­mance sports cars prob­a­bly would have been dis­ap­pointed.

Trans­mis­sions were a sixspeed au­to­matic with pad­dle-shifters and a sixspeed man­ual.

By con­sen­sus, the 86 was a true driver’s car that han­dled su­perbly, with fast and di­rect steer­ing and lots of feed­back to in­form the driver.


Sports cars can be an ap­peal­ing idea but there’s a com­pro­mise. They are great to drive and enor­mous fun, your friends will be en­vi­ous but they aren’t the most prac­ti­cal ev­ery­day trans­port.

For any­one a lit­tle older who might be think­ing of splurg­ing on some late-life fun, it’s worth re­mem­ber­ing that the 86 is low, which means get­ting in and out might be dif­fi­cult.

Some oth­ers more at­tuned to driv­ing sports cars might find the per­for­mance of the 86 unin­spir­ing, even though it’s an ex­hil­a­rat­ing drive for most.

Vir­tu­ally all own­ers we talked to are pos­i­tive and praise the car — love it, even, and few have any gripes to re­port.

A cou­ple felt that the build qual­ity wasn’t up to Toy­ota’s usual stan­dard, with paint be­ing less than per­fect. Rat­tles in the cabin were off-putting.

Even though 86s gen­er­ally are prov­ing re­li­able and giv­ing good ser­vice, it’s im­por­tant to be aware that the 86 is pop­u­lar among mo­tor­sport en­thu­si­asts.

It is vi­tal to check for signs of com­pet­i­tive use and while you’re at it look for mod­i­fi­ca­tions, such as big­ger wheels or rorty af­ter­mar­ket ex­hausts that might make them un­road­wor­thy. Walk away if you find any.

The best 86 to buy is the one that has been used as a fun cruiser, one that has been well cared for, rather than a week­end war­rior.

Subaru pro­vided the en­gine, which should last and last if ser­viced prop­erly. Be aware flat-four en­gines can use oil so a reg­u­lar check is rec­om­mended.

Reg­u­lar ser­vic­ing to Toy­ota’s sched­ule is im­por­tant in keep­ing the 86 tick­ing over. If the ser­vice record is miss­ing or seems dodgy, look for an­other one to buy.

There was a safety re­call in 2016, cov­er­ing cars built from 2012 — a flaw in the wiring har­ness could cause the elec­tric power steer­ing to fail.


Kris Don­nel­lan My 2013 GTS auto was a re­tire­ment present to my­self. It has been enor­mous fun, with no vices or is­sues. Sub­lime han­dling and dy­nam­ics, sporty auto with pad­dle or se­quen­tial shift man­ual choices, handy rear seats, com­fort­able and eco­nom­i­cal tour­ing, and ad­mir­ing com­ments are stand­out ben­e­fits. Lack of a full­size spare or rear cam­era, a prim­i­tive bon­net prop, very tame ex­haust note and low grip tyres are is­sues but they can be eas­ily up­dated. The only prob­lem is my hus­band finds any ex­cuse to bor­row it.

Neil East I have a 2014 GTS. It han­dles and goes well but the build qual­ity is not up to Toy­ota’s usual stan­dards. The paint is a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem.

Madi McGre­gor Mine is a 2014 GT. It’s a great car and I en­joy ev­ery mo­ment in the driver’s seat.

Tyson Lane It’s not the fastest car on the road but it’s great fun to drive. I’ve had no prob­lems with it at all.


Fun cruiser that’s also re­ward­ing to drive if you dare to push it.

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