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First drive: 2017MY Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.

First drive: 2017MY Toyota GT86
We didn't have to go all the way to Lapland to discover what's new about the 2017 Toyota GT86, but it was fun all the same.

   



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2017MY Toyota GT86

4 4 4 4 4

Toyota has given its compact GT86 sports coupe a midlife makeover without altering the core recipe. Detail changes to the exterior styling and aerodynamics are complemented by useful interior upgrades and not-so-obvious improvements under the skin. It's still a coupe for those that like to make an effort to extract the most from their car, so its appeal is still limited, but those that do get it will appreciate the 2017MY updates.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Toyota GT86 Pro manual
Pricing: from 26,410; 27,560 as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder flat-four petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, 2+2 coupe
CO2 emissions: 180g/km (VED Band I, 230 now; 140 if registered after April 1st 2017 - with 800 first year fee)
Combined economy: 36.2mpg
Top speed: 140mph
0-62mph: 7.6 seconds
Power: 200hp at 7,000rpm
Torque: 205Nm at 6,400- to 6,600rpm
Boot space: 237 litres

What's this?

This is the 2017MY Toyota GT86, though you'd be forgiven for not noticing the difference immediately as the visual updates are subtle. New 17-inch wheels, a more prominent boot spoiler (standard on the Pro model) and restyled LED lights front and rear are the most obvious changes, though the bumpers are in fact new as well, said to enhance aerodynamic efficiency as well as sharpen up the GT86's appearance.

The interior receives a few updates too, including a smaller and higher quality steering wheel with auxiliary buttons on it and some new bits and pieces of tactile trim. The instruments are new too, including a small TFT display for driving data, while the GT86 also gains the Toyota Touch 2 infotainment system for the centre console, which can be upgraded to include satnav.

You'll find a new button for the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system on the centre console too, to access Track mode. This reduces the assistance in terms of VSC and traction control to allow more experienced drivers to explore the outer edges of the GT86's ability, safe in the knowledge that there's still a safety net in place. It is, of course, still possible to turn the system off completely.

Prices start at 26,410 for a manual coupe, including LED headlights and daytime running lamps, the new 17-inch wheels, touchscreen infotainment, DAB, Bluetooth, USB, auto lights, dual-zone climate control, electric windows, cruise control and a mechanical limited slip differential. The GT86 Pro costs 1,150 extra and adds the rear spoiler, Alcantara interior trim, leather/Alcantara upholstery, paddle shifts if you've gone for the automatic and heated front seats. There's a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the six-speed auto costs 1,550 or 1,600 for the standard and Pro cars respectively.

How does it drive?

In truth, the first drive event didn't really give us an opportunity to accurately assess the chassis changes, as the cars all wore Nokian studded snow tyres and we were either trying our best to drift on snow and ice in the Arctic Driving Centre (ADC) or sticking carefully to the posted (slow) speed limits on the public Finnish roads for fear of expensive reprisal. However, a day at the ADC is an illuminating way to reveal the GT86's inherent chassis balance and adjustability without ever needing to drive particularly quickly - or have a truck of spare tyres at your disposal. The cynical may suggest that the GT86's relative lack of power (the 2.0-litre boxer engine is unchanged, producing 200hp and a rather meagre 205Nm of torque) is neatly disguised by driving on low-grip surfaces such as snow and ice. And we wouldn't disagree... While approving of the purist remit of the GT86, we can't help but hanker after a little more performance and perhaps a more tuneful sound from that low-slung engine up front.

For the record, Toyota tells us about loads of detail changes to the GT86's chassis, including new springs up front to help with steering feel, new dampers all round that are both softer for comfort yet also optimised to reduce friction in the system. The keener buyer can upgrade to firmer SACHS items (Showa dampers are standard). At the rear, the springs are tweaked and the anti-roll bar is stiffer too. Perhaps of much significance is the focus on increasing torsional stiffness through the GT86's body, which should allow the upgraded suspension to work more effectively.

On ice and snow the GT86 proved to be agile and fun, highly adjustable on the limit and incredibly well-balanced. The VSC Track mode was a little too intrusive to allow drifting in such conditions, but it does work quickly to keep the car on line when it's needed so it should be great back on tarmac. The steering is wonderfully free of slop and well-weighted and the manual gearchange a joy.

Verdict

While we can't honestly say if the facelifted GT86 is better to drive than the original one, the aesthetic tweaks inside and out, plus the new equipment, will certainly ingratiate it to those that already liked the way Toyota's little coupe drove. It's still an acquired taste of course, but we have no problem with that whatsoever.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 3 Feb 2017



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