Care­ful not to tam­per with a win­ning for­mula, has Toy­ota done enough to broaden the ap­peal of the 86?

Car (South Africa) - - DRIVE - TOY­OTA 86 2,0 BOXER 6M/T PRICE: ETA:

IT’S past 08h00, yet two hours re­main be­fore the sun is sched­uled to make an ap­pear­ance. With the dig­i­tal trip screen in my car dis­play­ing -18 ˚C and my seat warmer work­ing over­time, the first in­struc­tion from my warm-hearted sat-nav in­struc­tor is a 90-de­gree merge onto one of Ro­vaniemi’s main thor­ough­fares. With no real in­tent, and de­spite protes­ta­tion from both a fully ac­tive trac­tion­con­trol sys­tem and heav­ily stud­ded win­ter tyres, the rear-end of the 86 steps out be­fore, thanks to a small cor­rec­tion on the steer­ing wheel, grace­fully fall­ing back into line. It’s go­ing to be a fun day.

Five years since the launch of the 86, and with 170 000 units sold world­wide, Toy­ota pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda’s mantra “if it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car” re­mains the main fo­cus for the team (at least half of whom re­main from the orig­i­nal project) re­spon­si­ble for the car’s midlife up­date.

Sat­is­fied that the Subaru­sourced, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 2,0-litre flat-four en­gine, with its 147 kw and 205 N.m, re­mains the weapon of choice in this 1 263 kg pack­age, the fo­cus of this up­grade was on im­prov­ing the car’s dy­namic abil­ity, re­fin­ing its aero­dy­nam­ics and up­dat­ing its in­te­rior.

Pur­port­edly in­spired by the rel­a­tive suc­cess achieved by the 86-pi­lot­ing Toy­ota Ga­zoo rac­ing team (in­clud­ing a 2014 class win at the an­nual 24 Hours of Nür­bur­gring en­durance race), the changes to the road car’s front aero pack­age in­clude a re­vised spoiler de­sign in­cor­po­rat­ing a lower, wider grille, more pro­nounced bot­tom lip and a re­designed foglamp sec­tion, in­clud­ing the repo­si­tion­ing of the in­di­ca­tor bulbs within the head­lamp clus­ters. The lat­ter now in­cludes full LED tech­nol­ogy. Fur­ther­more, a new 17-inch al­loy-wheel de­sign and a blade sec­tion within the cor­re­spond­ing side vents high­light the up­dated 86’s pro­file, and the rear gains a fresh wing de­sign com­plete with end plates.

While man­u­fac­tur­ers usu­ally boast re­mark­able down­force fig­ures gained via th­ese types of body­work en­hance­ments, Toy­ota’s covert “trust us” ap­proach, high­lighted by the sur­pris­ing ab­sence of recorded com­pa­ra­ble lap-time fig­ures be­tween the new and old car, is dis­ap­point­ing. That said, the car’s still im­pres­sive 0,27 Cd drag co­ef­fi­cient

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