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Driven: Toyota GT86 2017MY. Image by Toyota.

Driven: Toyota GT86 2017MY
Subtle updates improve what remains one of our favourite affordable performance cars.

   



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Toyota GT86

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: Cabin ambience improved, GT86 still as great to drive as ever

Not so good: Peaky power delivery will not suit all driving tastes

Key Facts

Model tested: Toyota GT86 (2017MY)
Price: GT86 range starts from 26,855, car as tested 28,820
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 180/km (800 VED first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 36.2mpg
Top speed: 140mph
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Power: 200hp at 7,000rpm
Torque: 205Nm at 6,400- to 6,600rpm

Our view:

When Big Boss Man Shane drove the 2017MY-updated Toyota GT86 last, he was on studded tyres and slithering around on snow and ice within the Finnish Arctic Circle. Not, perhaps, most representative of what this car will be doing here in the UK, but we digress.

However, he still praised the inherent balance of the car and, in truth, despite its low torque output and wilfully different coupe body, the GT86 has always been one of our favourites. And, having spent a week in the company of the 2017MY car here at home, it still is. OK, the changes wrought - detailed chassis updates, some external visual detailing that is said to improve the aerodynamics and slightly better cabin finishing, with a new steering wheel being a particular highlight - are hardly groundbreaking stuff, but they seem to add up to a sports machine that is still holding its own in a world dominated by 300hp-plus, torque-rich, turbocharged hatchbacks.

It promises to frustrate endless numbers of drivers who are weaned on a diet of fat, mid-range, forced-induction flexibility and twin-clutch gearboxes. But hook the rear-drive, manual Toyota up on the right roads and it's a proper hoot. Brilliantly, even on the eco-tyres that still aim to promote oversteer fun, it feels grippier than before, so you can lean on its faithful handling a little bit more, making it seem markedly quicker across the ground. And the steering is magnificent; rich and detailed and weighted beautifully, it's a delight that shows other electrically-assisted racks up to be the feel-free zones they truly are.

The Toyota is also, weirdly, quite impressively refined on a long cruise, the revised damping clearly working wonders at making the Toyota feel like a shrunken grand tourer when it's pounding along a motorway. Incredibly, despite its normal aspiration - and despite everyone other manufacturer telling us downsized turbo motors are the way forward for economy - the GT86 managed to turn in 40.4mpg average on a long M1 run, with an overall 38.9mpg across a 330-mile week. Not bad at all.

So, the verdict is that not much has changed with the Toyota GT86, but what revisions there have been are all worthwhile and add to the package, so if you like the idea of one of these rakish two-door rear-wheel-drive machines, there's absolutely no reason to buy it... save for a purchase price that is creeping ever nearer to the 30-grand mark. However, we still love the GT86 and hope it continues beyond this generation, but we're also hopeful that Toyota will give it the final hurrah it deserves: namely, a much more powerful engine. Sort of, like, 300hp; maybe even a GT86 GRMN. Now that would be interesting...

Alternatives:

Fiat 124 Spider: It's a measure of the lack of choice in this segment that the three rivals here are two of the same car and the identical machine to the GT86. Fiat's 124 is fun, if a bit flaccid.

Mazda MX-5 RF: MX-5 with the folding hard-top drives sharply but it doesn't have a drivetrain to match the Toyota for power. We also prefer the 1.5-litre model to the 2.0.

Subaru BRZ: Exactly the same as the GT86 but with different badges, and if you spend any significant time on the UK's road network, you'll know the Toyota outsells the Subaru by a ridiculously big margin.


Matt Robinson - 3 Nov 2017



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2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.

2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.2017 Toyota GT86 drive. Image by Toyota.








 

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