Toyota GT86: road test
Hop on board a fun yet practical two-seater.
What is it?
The Toyota GT86 is a fun yet practical two-seater that harks back to the great days of the rear-wheel drive sports car where fun and driveability was the primary aim of the manufacturer
How safe is it?
Driver and passenger front, side and curtain airbags are supplemented by a driver’s knee airbag. There’s ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution to remove fade and vehicle stability control plus a tyre pressure warning system.
Who should buy one?
This is squarely aimed at the driving enthusiast who, alongside a grunty little boxer engine and willing, accurate drive, like the odd creature comfort like sat nav, a nice stereo and comfy leather seats and details.
Road test by Neil Cammies, published 21 May 2015
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The first time I remember seeing a Toyota sports car was 2000GT driven by Kissy Suzuki in Bond classic You Only Live Twice. If that doesn’t grab the imagination I don’t know what does. Later incarnations have included the hugely successful Celica and the MR2, so heritage isn’t an issue for Toyota and boy does it show.
The GT86 is a real throw-back to simpler days. Rear-wheel drive, held in check by traction control, and a willing four-cylinder boxer engine giving a top mark of 140mph and a nippy, if not blistering, 0 to 60 time of 7.7 seconds. Power delivered is a smidge under 200bhp and is pushed through an absolute beauty of a six-speed manual coupled with a kerb weight of just 1180 kg. This is important as this motor is about agility and fun into corners, with the power to weight well-balanced.
Push the sports button and the traction control goes off and you can have as much fun as you can safely handle. Another thing you’ll notice is the acoustic team at Toyota that give the exhaust a lovely rorty note by clever use of air vibrations in the engine’s intake system.
Being a Toyota there is air of practicality to the GT86 and its very well behaved on the commute to work, with a nippy tight turning circle. This definitely has the air of a cult car in the making and a bit of a head-turner. Don’t be surprised if, in the future, there are GT86 clubs sprouting up around the globe. A thoroughly enjoyable ride that never fails to put a smile on your face.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
I’m hardly a packet of peanuts, at six foot two and around 17 stone, yet the low bucket seats swallowed me up very comfortably, as long as you don’t wish to use the wee 2+2 seats in the back. Boot space at 243 litres can easily take the weekly shop, as well as a weekend away, we tried both. On the journey to west Wales we stopped regularly (taking far too many photographs) and took over five hours. When we got to our destination I felt as fresh as a daisy; a fine achievement.
After our little trip it was back to the hum-drum of a half-hour commute which the little Toyota managed with impeccable manners. If there is such a thing as a practical, fun 2+2 coupe then Toyota have nailed it. You’ll call it a name and have pictures of it on your mantlepiece in no time I’m sure.
Low sales volumes mean there’s no Euro NCAP crash test rating as yet, but Toyota are known for making sturdy cars. Coupled with the driver and passenger front, side and curtain airbags there is also a driver’s knee airbag. Along with ABS and vehicle stability control the car has a tyre pressure warning system as standard and has ISOFIX child seat mounts.
The Toyota Touch has a 6.1inch touchscreen – very easy to use – with a six-speaker audio system, DAB ready tuner and CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and aux-in socket as well a rear-view camera. For those more relaxed moments you can enjoy the dual climate and cruise controls. For security it comes with keyless entry and push button start with a Thatcham Cat1 alarm.
The on the road price of the test car with Touch and Go was £25,750. There is an entry-level model ‘Primo’ variant that starts at £23,000 or you can go for the rather flamboyant ‘Aero’ model at around £27.500. For a well-built 2+2 this seems very good value judging by the reaction from other motorists who came to have a chat about this pretty little coupe.
It may lack a bit of razzmatazz, but for a family hatchback it ticks all the right boxes.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £25,750
Performance: 0-60mph in 7.7 seconds
Economy: 36.2mpg combined
Insurance: Group 33E
Tax: Band I (£225 first year)
Figures for the Toyota GT86 manual