Toyota 86. A TVG Test Drive

We’re revisiting the Toyota 86 and for good reason, it’s awesome. Test driving a car with a salesman in it is not really test driving it at all. You’re not testing the car, you’re just driving it with a guy you don’t know sitting next to you trying to convince you to buy it. The most ironic thing about the whole situation is if he shut up, got out of the car and actually let you ‘drive’ it he’d probably make the sale.

Last Friday morning in Melbourne, TVG arose bright and early and headed straight to the Toyota headquarters to pick up a car for the day. At the time we weren’t 100% sure what car it was going to be but I had expressed our desire to explore the city in the 86. After handing over my license I was given some paperwork and there on the top line….Model: 86. We had a chuckle as we walked into the parking lot to look for our little silver sports coupe. After a couple of snaps we climbed in and soaked up the moment whilst cradled in the aggressive sports seats.

The silver 86 was an auto, I’d previously driven the manual – I’m not in any position to compare the different gearboxes because I probably only changed gears 50 times in the manual where as the auto gearbox would have made 1000 changes over the day. I will say this, the auto gearbox is not to be written off. We drove the base automatic model, the GT and had a ball, the more expensive GTS model features paddle shift controls, which I can only assume enlightens the driving experience for those who want the boy racer feel. Basically, the automatic is very capable and my prediction is that the GTS with the paddle shift could be worth some consideration if you’re looking for a city sports car.

The last time I was this impressed with a car under $50,000 was when I drove the Skoda Octavia RS, the 86 is $10,000 cheaper than Skoda. It’s good to see the Australian market is presenting some great value cars for the man who wants performance with out breaking the bank. Cars like the 86, the Octavia RS and the new Focus ST make me wonder why people bother buying 318i’s and C180’s, sacrificing money and performance for a badge.

The 86 is a treat, a salted caramel cupcake. It’s so much fun, whether you are driving it or being driven you’ll always have a smile on your face. We took it for a solid drive across the city of Melbourne and it provided at every moment I asked it to. Officially, it’s not lightening quick but it makes you feel like it is. It pulls hard when you put your foot down and holds speed in corners, the car is seriously agile – something I tested extensively through the traffic. When requested, the 86 accelerates with enough purpose to get you out of any hairy situation or make a statement at the lights if that’s your thing. The traction control button is located next to the ‘Sport’ button so they were obviously meant to be used in conjunction, which they certainly were in this case. The rear wheel drive really comes into its own with the traction control disabled and delivered us some phenomenal corning moments and some bigger smiles. Inside it’s no nonsense trim maintains the racing car pedigree. The stereo is bluetooth enabled which allows you to run your Iphone through it, which delivered us our own tunes all day through the impressive speakers.

I’m stoked on the 86, it’s a great car for Australia, not just for the buyers, but for the market, I think it’s going to make companies rethink what ‘value’ really is and in turn, hopefully level out prices on many uninspiring european entry model cars. I said this in the last article and I’m going to say it again. Buy this car. It’s that good. At $32,450 (our model) it’s a no brainer, an absolute peach. This article doesn’t even begin to do the car justice, we just couldn’t believe how much of a driving experience can be purchased at this price, I’d say it’s probably unbeatable.

Thanks to Canon for the G1X we borrowed over the weekend to take these shots!


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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