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