Red letter day for GT
There’s no more power (still no turbocharger) but then the GT 86 does not need more than its standard 197bhp from the flat four Subaru-sourced engine for lots of great driving fun… and it also helped that this car was the 6-speed manual, where as the Subaru had an auto box. Normally I am a big fan of automatics but in a true sports car it just seems wrong.
The new car is much like the old one behind the wheel - which is no bad thing. Toyota have made some changes to the steering and shocks for better agility and one new feature is a ‘Track’ button, which you really should not push during normal road driving… unless you have a burning desire to drift your way along the high street. The steering remains sharp and the ride firm but not too harsh. In short Toyota have tweaked but not ruined what was already a great driver’s car, sticking with the front engine rear wheel drive layout.
And the experience is added to by that boxer engine soundtrack, which is transmitted into the cabin under harsh acceleration thanks to an air vibration system to give a sportier sound.
As you would expect fun comes at a cost with a combined fuel economy of just 36.2mpg, although I managed a bit better during a week of mixed motoring at just over 38. However, 0 to 62 comes up in a truly sporting 7.7 seconds and top speed is 140mph.
Helped by its ‘Pure Red’ colour the GT 86 easily passed the small (and often big) boy staring test and from just £26,885 (a shade over £28,000 on the road for our Pro version) you get lots of show as well as go.
Down sides? Well a few of the switches feel a little cheap and flimsy, the rear seats are only suitable for pygmies and the boot is, as you would expect, not huge - although I was surprised that it did manage to accommodate the weekly supermarket shop. But then this is a true sports car so most of the above is irrelevant. Also the Toyota sat-nav system is easier to use than that fitted to the Subaru.
The GT 86 gets its name by fusing two titles from Toyota’s past. The GT from the 2000GT of the 1960s (who remembers the stunning convertible version specially made for the James Bond film You Only Live Twice?), while the number 86 comes from the Corolla AE86 of the 1980s, a car much lauded by Japanese sports car and drift fans across the world.
So, by sticking pretty well to the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ Toyota will continue to have a winner in the 2017 GT 86.