The Toyota GT86 is every car junkie’s dream: from its rear-wheel drive, ordinary tyres, and no turbocharging. All these features assure a driver focused on his ride and performance of a pure experience. Enthusiasts are clearly the target of this lightweight coupe, as it gives a new spin to Toyota’s reputation for economical and reliable family oriented cars. But how far does it go in turning the brand around?
The Toyota GT86 sports a much lighter weight thanks to the thinner body panels. Overall the vehicle is just below 1300kg, with all its light efficiency split at 47 per cent at the rear and 53 per cent up front. Engineers kept it at such so that a handling balance was achieved with the front bias.
The balance continues with the MacPherson struts located up front and the rear’s double wishbones. These parts employ the vehicle’s low centre gravity, enabling an intuitive degree of the turn in roll on. Throttle on the exit is also included care of a Torsen limited-slip differential.
Details within the interior pay attention to both form and function. The small size of the steering wheel along with the horizontal dashboard design provides a better posture position for the driver. Support is also provided by soft kneepads on the door trim, while high lateral loads are also supported by a centre line mark.
The GT86’s performance is marked by hard work: expect a worthy uphill struggle before you finally feel the crisp throttle response. The precise and positive gearshift also assures you of a smooth ride from there on. The car immediately responds to each control input and the steering so slick that testers took their time on the road. The tightness of chassis control is another major plus, along with the humble tyres that are able to handle 0.99g when going into corners, all while maintaining a steady throttle.
Performance relies on a 2.0-litre petrol unit that packs in 197bhp and 205Nm torque. A six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual gearbox can be partnered with this sole engine option. The six-speed manual gearbox boasts of a 140mph top speed and can arrive at 62mph in just 7.7 seconds. The automatic goes at a slightly slower top speed of 130 mph and its 62mph mark hit after 140mph.
The interior does have its weaknesses. Pedals are positioned awkwardly in a straight position and can’t accommodate certain heel to toe foot sizes. As a whole, the cabin still lacks the sleek, polished design that most expect from a European sports car. Instead the design turns out too hard edged and the materials used seem rather harsh on the eyes. At the touch, the material sports the same qualities. Not exactly what most sports car owners want to be greeted with on the road.
Overall, the GT86 doesn’t disappoint despite the improvements it could use. It would have hit perfection with less noise on the interior but otherwise it delivers in what matters: giving every driver and passenger an enjoyable ride.
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