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Week at the wheel: Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.

Week at the wheel: Toyota GT86
We can't remember being this excited by a new Toyota, so we spent a week in a GT86 to see if it deserves the hype.

 



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| Week at the Wheel | Toyota GT86 |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Stick a supercharger on this car, keep the price below £30,000 and there's no doubt in our mind you'd have a five-star motor. As it is, the GT86 proves absolutely fantastic for 95 per cent of the time, but with our ever more crowded roads the lack of torque is impossible to ignore. So while a few hours in the GT86 leaves you wowed, we fear that owners will find the honeymoon period soon ending.

Key Facts

Model tested: Toyota GT86
Pricing: £24,995 (£27,345 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder 'boxer' petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupé
Rivals: Lotus Elise, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z
CO2 emissions: 181g/km
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

Inside & Out: 4 4 4 4 4

There's a slightly Manga-nese feel to this motor, the small coupé covered in almost caricatured curves and detailing. We love the GT86 piston logo adorning the flanks, and proportionately the stubby tail and long bonnet are beautifully allocated. But the front end, with its gaping grille in the lower valance and the slightly aftermarket rear wing detract from the cohesion of what is otherwise a neat design. It's worth noting that the GT86 suits certain colours (the burnt orange option especially) and that it's certainly sensitive to wheel design and size.

Without doubt this is the best Toyota interior currently found in the firm's showrooms. You slide down low into the deeply sculpted sports seats, the high transmission tunnel and perfectly-placed gear lever next to you. The wheel has plenty of adjustment to allow for your choice of drift-king or motorway munching driving positions, and the view over the sculpted bonnet evocative and enticing. Soft touch materials are used throughout, and the switchgear looks the most modern we've yet seen from the Japanese manufacturer. If we'd change anything for the facelift it'd be clearer main instrumentation and a more user friendly satnav interface. It's also worth noting that the rear seats are pretty much useless for anyone but the smallest of children - we didn't even attempt to squeeze in.

Ride & Handling: 5 5 5 5 5

This car has been designed from the outset to offer an engaging and otherwise unavailable driving experience, and it 100 per cent, without doubt totally and utterly hits the nail on the head. Even at modest speeds the wheel is constantly chattering away to you (as much as modern power steering systems can) and the subtle movements of the body communicate just what forces are being exerted on the chassis - helped by what feels like a longitudinal pivot point cited right at the driver's hips.

Much has been made of the GT86's skinny tyres (shared with the firm's Prius) and the ease with which they'll relinquish their grip on the limit. And sure, in the wet the GT86 will happily move from the upper limits of traction to sliding from the rear, but in the dry you have to be travelling very quickly indeed to induce such behaviour. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your outlook), the GT86 does rather encourage the inner-hooligan within, and you find yourself hunting for quiet roundabouts for some playtime. It even manages to prove pretty comfortable on the motorway, the suspension soaking up most of the lumps and bumps thrown at it.

Engine & Transmission: 4 4 4 4 4

We'll get this out of the way early on; the GT86 has received criticism from some quarters for lacking torque - one look at the narrow 200rpm maximum delivery band may be confirmation enough. It's something we'd have to agree with, but only under certain conditions. On a quiet and traffic free back road, be in no doubt that this Toyota is plenty fast enough - but come upon other vehicles that you need to overtake quickly and safely (as you will too often on our crowded road network) and you'll have to think twice. It's frustrating, and in the right (or in this case wrong) conditions, almost enough to ruin what is an otherwise fantastically engaging and well-judged experience. With Subaru likely to turbocharge its BRZ sister car, we can't help but hope Toyota straps on a supercharger to maintain this car's deliciously linear throttle response.

The boxer engine has a great induction note, and even the exhaust noise seems more cultured than the technical specifications would have you believe. Admittedly the buzz from the engine may get a little tiring on the motorway, but on the whole we'd happily spend hours at the national speed limit if we knew there was at least one deserted roundabout at the end of it. The pedals are excellently placed for a little heel-and-toe action and the short throw six-speed manual gearbox is a delight to use; with a real positive feel to its shift.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 5 5 5 5 5

After one look around the sports car market it soon becomes clear the little Toyota is offering incredible value for money. For its £25k list price you're looking at rather more underpowered Mazda MX-5s or the front-wheel drive backwards baseball cap-wearing MINI Coupé. It really can't be touched in this respect, and can only be viewed as great value.

Consider the firm's excellent five-year warranty, as well as its reputation for reliability, and its hard not to be seduced by the capable coupé. Admittedly CO2 emissions could be a little lower, and economy is nothing to write home about - but who buys a car like this because of low running costs?


Graeme Lambert - 25 Sep 2012









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2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.



2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 

2012 Toyota GT86. Image by Toyota.
 






 

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