By the power of grey paint!
Why mess with a winning formula? So they haven’t. It’s not as if the GT86 has any competition it needs to keep ahead of. By Ben Barry
IT’S FIVE YEARS since Toyota launched the GT86, the back-to-basics sports coupe that combines low power with low weight and rear-drive intimacy. We’ve tested the production version numerous times, and ran its Subaru BRZ twin as a long-term test car; you might remember that the 2+2 sports car is a joint project between the two companies. An update for 2017 provides an excuse to get the Toyota on CAR’s fleet.
Admittedly, new GT86 looks much like old GT86 at a glance, and there are no powertrain changes: the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine – a Subaru flat-four with Toyota direct-injection – still produces 197bhp and 151lb ft.
But there’s a new front bumper that adds fins and continues the contour of the bonnet to a lower point than before, and new headlights that incorporate LED indicators and LED daytime running lights, and push the actual headlight unit right out to the side of the cluster – it makes the GT86’s snout appear lower, wider, a bit angrier too. There are new rear light units, a deeper rear diffuser and a new rear wing, which you can delete; I did. The body changes apparently all enhance aerodynamics. Including that, erm, deleted wing.
Inside, the steering wheel is now 3mm smaller, and 10% lighter, the 7000rpm redline now sits at the top of the tacho, Ferrari-style, and there’s a new 6.1in infotainment touchscreen to replace the frustratingly poor unit in pre-facelift cars. You also get a new 4.2in TFT multi-function display in the instrument binnacle – you can check your remaining fuel range, or watch how fast you’re burning it with the lap-timer function.
Toyota says front and rear spring rates are ‘optimised’, and that they can now flex for more progressive steering feel as the body starts to roll. The Showa shocks, meanwhile, are actually softer in a bid to improve ride comfort. There’s also a thicker rear anti-roll bar, a new Track mode to minimise stability control intervention without leaving you entirely high and dry, and a revised ABS calibration. Toyota has modified the bodyshell, adding a thicker mounting bracket for the front suspension towers, a thicker reinforcement in the transmission crossmember, plus extra welds in the rear wheel arches.
The entry-level model starts from £26,855, but our car is the top-spec – and only other spec – Pro, for £28,005. The extra £1150 brings heated front seats, leather and alcantara trim (an upgrade from cloth), a leather armrest, and suede-look trim for the dash and door cards. Both specs get fresh 17in alloys, adaptive headlights, cruise control, electric heated door mirrors, keyless entry, Bluetooth and DAB.
We had to part with £750 extra for the Touch 2 with Go infotainment system, which introduces sat-nav and a few other niceties. We’ve also spent £545 on grey paint (only red is nocost), and £250 for rear parking sensors.
That’s a final tally of £29,550. The Mazda MX-5 convertible comes closest to being a direct rival, and you can get hot hatches with more power for similar money, but five years since its launch, the GT86 continues to have the affordable rear-drive sports coupe niche to itself.
How worthwhile are the changes? What’s it like to live with? We’ve six months to find out.
LOGBOOK TOYOTA GT86 Engine 1998cc 16v 4-cyl, 197bhp @ 7000rpm, 151lb ft @ 6400rpm Transmission 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive Stats 7.6sec 062mph, 140mph, 180g/km CO2 Price £28,005 As tested £29,550 Miles this month 605 Total 1039 Our mpg 29.8...