A compact cruiser
WTOYOTA has roared back to its driverfocused roots for the latest version of the GT86 sports coupe. Unflinching in a desire to deliver a classic sports car experience, the brand’s engineers were determined to retain three key elements – rear-wheel drive, no turbocharging and ordinary tyres.
So beneath the bonnet of the GT86 T&G is a compact, front-mounted, free-revving ‘boxer’ petrol engine that drives the rear wheels.
And the powertrain combines with the car’s light weight and a low centre of gravity to provide the best possible power-to-weight ratio.
The result is something Toyota is heralding as the world’s most compact four-seat sports car, one that’s not only a joy to drive but that has parts which can easily be adjusted or customised to owners’ preferences.
Driver engagement is the priority rather than practicality and comfort with the GT86, though this is most definitely not a bone-shaker with little or no stowage space.
Space up front is actually very good indeed – it’s just that the two back seats are strictly for kids, and little ones at that, while you can pack plenty into the 243-litre boot.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine develops 197bhp and while its 0-62mph acceleration is hardly exceptonal at 7.7 seconds that figure is countered by the way the Toyota handles.
With its firm ride and classic layout of engine at the front and driven wheels at the rear the GT86 has bags of fun factor, sweeping nimbly round winding country lanes with near perfect feedback from the steering.
The only gripe would be the way the pedals are slightly offset, though the low driving position is terrific and the seats and steering wheel are easily adjusted.
As with all Toyota models the GT86 feels well screwed together and there’s plenty of kit as standard too.
So the likes of climate control, keyless entry, electric front windows, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth, a Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system and dual zone air con are included.
Safety gear brings stability control, seven airbags, anti-whiplash headrests, alarm and immobiliser while the higher grade Pro spec adds heated Alcantara seats, a suede dashboard and a rear spoiler.
And if you’re wondering where the ‘86’ in GT86 comes from, well the number has played a significant part in the car’s development, more than just a reference to its ancestor the AE86 Corolla GT.
The car also had the in-house development code 086A and even the diameter of the GT86’s chrome-tipped twin exhausts is 86mm.
TEST DRIVE TOYOTA GT86 T&G
Model: Toyota GT86 2.0 T&G Price: £26,855 Mechanical: 197bhp, 1,998cc 4-cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via six-speed manual transmission Max speed: 140mph 0-62mph: 7.7 seconds Combined mpg: 36.2 Insurance Group: 34 CO2 emissions: 180g/km BiK rating: 37% Warranty: 5yrs / 100,000 milesa