Youth­ful car with adult ap­peal

Central Otago Mirror - - MOTORING - Mo­tor­ing

The Go

Toy­ota re-in­ject sporty sex­i­ness into its bland and sen­si­ble brand im­age with the 86 sport coupe, and bring its age ap­peal down. Iron­i­cally the hooli­gan ads which drew flack sug­gest un­con­trolled hoonery while the car it­self de­liv­ers de­light­ful han­dling. It’s co-de­vel­oped with Subaru, launch­ing its BRZ vari­ant in De­cem­ber, and fea­tures a nor­mally as­pi­rated 2.0-litre engine in a hor­i­zon­tally op­posed for­mat that keeps weight low. The 147kw and 205Nm power fig­ures ini­tially seem mod­est for such a sharplook­ing car, but power-to-weight is key, the 86 tip­ping the scales at un­der 1300kg de­spite in­clud­ing seven airbags, sta­bil­ity con­trol, air con and enough other com­fort and safety fea­tures to please dur­ing the daily com­mute. Good power-to-weight en­sures off-the-line ac­cel­er­a­tion is brisk and ac­com­pa­nied by a feral engine note which makes track­day prom­ises we’d later put to the test. The MacPherson strut front and dou­ble wish­bone rear sus­pen­sion proved firm over the ru­ral roads we ini­tially tra­versed, though they came into their own when speed rose, the light-act­ing six-speed man­ual my favourite as it feels quicker to re­spond, and bet­ter able to link your hands, feet and butt to the road than the sixspeed auto. The car proved de­light­fully lively to fling about, but it was tack­ling the race track that truly proved its pedi­gree. Four-time Aus­tralian rally champ and V8 su­per­car driver Neil Bates tells me the car took part in a back-to-back test in which Walkin­shaw Com­modores thrashed it on the drag strip and dyno. But the 86 bl­itzed them on track where its sublime han­dling more than com­pen­sated for less speed on the straights. Quick-ra­tio steer­ing, rear drive, a Torsen lim­ited slip diff, a sublime 53-47 front-rear bal­ance all con­trib­ute to a level of con­trol that al­lows even or­di­nary driv­ers to play with the car’s stance, to cor­rect it if the rear goes awol and to prompt and con­trol slides, as we proved on both skid pan and race track. That makes for club-day en­joy­ment – and greater on-road con­fi­dence, par­tic­u­larly in dif­fi­cult driv­ing con­di­tions such as the heavy rain that blighted our on­road drive.


We hope few pun­ters choose the aero pack­age for the GT that adds a front and rear un­der-spoiler, side skirt and a large rear wing spoiler, for the ba­sic car de­liv­ers sleekly dy­namic lines that don’t need the car­i­ca­ture add-ons. The cabin is well de­signed too, with great er­gonomics and a char­ac­ter that suits the car.

Com­pany spin

To de­liver a back-to-ba­sics drive ex­pe­ri­ence with­out sac­ri­fic­ing safety or mak­ing too high a com­fort com­pro­mise, and to do so at a back-to-ba­sics price. To in­ject sexy sporti­ness into the brand. And to get enough cars – de­mand so far out­strips sup­ply that even the press drive al­lo­ca­tion has been trimmed.


To the en­gi­neers who cre­ated a car that de­liv­ers such a de­light­ful drive ex­pe­ri­ence, at such an achiev­able price. Bates calls this an eighty grand car at a forty grand price and he’s bang on, the en­try-level pitched at $41,986 and the GT at $47,986. Pro­vided you can re­sist the TRD cat­a­logue of go-faster bits…


Rear seats barely use­able – my 166cm frame just able to sit be­hind a 166cm driver.

Sporty and sexy: The new Toy­ota sport coupe.

Jac­qui Madelin

De­light­ful: The coupe of­fers a great driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

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