Toyota 86. Tested and Approved.

I’ve never owned a Toyota. I hadn’t planned on it either – until I got out of the 86.

You’ve got to love what this car is all about, even if it’s not your cup of tea. I think the 86 looks a tad better than the Subaru BRZ, the front is a little more fluid, the wheel arches are flared a tad more, it has a bit more personality, but then again I haven’t seen the BRZ in the flesh.

From the outset the 86 is impressive. Walking up behind it is a pleasure, the twin exhaust pipes look radical amongst the black diffuser and are proportioned perfectly with the rear of the car. There are two different models, the GT and GTS. I drove the GT in manual because the GTS was an auto with paddle shifters. There’s a few differences between them, all cosmetic. Leather interior, Fog lights, 17inch wheels, bigger brakes. Honestly though it’s inconsequential, they look almost identical (of course I would get the GTS if I was going to buy one).

The driving position is insane, in fact the whole driver’s cockpit is an experience. The bucket seats wrap you up tighter than a Guzman and Gomez burrito and you sit low nestled among the controls. It’s as close to a supercar as you are going to get without owning one. The 86 accelerates in the rear wheels and it felt great coming out of corners, especially when shifting out of 2nd into 3rd. The gear change is clean and mechanical, the gears almost click into place with the manual gearbox, it’s not necessarily smooth but I think it’s part of the driving experience because it really heightens engagement. I think you have to buy the manual, not only because of the cars racing pedigree but if you want to get the most out of the car in general. The acceleration is good but I kept the revs pretty high because I only had a short time to sample the car. If I’d had the opportunity to really let the car loose perhaps I would be able to further my comment.


At the end of the day, the top of the line GTS with the full option pack is going to set you back $38,490 and I just don’t know what you’re getting out there that is better than that. Its brand new, it’s under warranty, it’s exciting and it’s iconic, all this for sub $40,000 – you’d be a moron not to go and test drive one if you’re considering a car purchase of this calibre. The 86 is hot and the proof is in the pudding – Chatswood Toyota has sold 50 in the last few weeks. There’s already a serious waiting list, at least until the end of the year.

For myself, I’d have to sample the BRZ before buying either of them, but that’s just because I’m more of a Subaru man. The 86 is a treat. I got out of the car and felt invigorated. Unfortunately the car key lets the package down a bit, I know it’s not a big issue but the 86 makes a big statement and I feel they let themselves down with the bog standard Toyota key. Nevertheless it evokes a great driving experience, it’s a car you’d ‘drive’ every time you used it and that’s what driving should be about.

We spoke to Jonathan at Chatswood Toyota. Give him a shout if you want to go for a spin. (02) 9201 4409



James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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