The successor to the Toyota GT 86 sports coupé is still not supercharged, but has more displacement. Is that enough to turn the successful wallflower into a popular hit?
Even the predecessor of the current GR 86 was an insider tip for sports drivers. The Toyota GT 86 had a fantastic balance, a crisp chassis and excellent ergonomics, which made driving the manually operated car even more entertaining than the automatic version.
Alone, the GT 86 was a flop. Very suitable as a touring racing car due to its weight distribution, especially the modest motorization of the chic coupé was not enough for high demand. 200 hp, 205 Nm, no turbocharger or compressor, nobody wanted to buy that at a price of just under 30,000 francs.
So Toyota set about making the car more attractive. The name GR 86 indicates the Toyota racing department Gazoo Racing, the model is the third GR in the Toyota sports program after the GR Yaris and the GR Supra.
Changes to the body and chassis were hardly necessary compared to the already shapely GT 86. Only the front section modified the Japanese designers, and the rear is now adorned with a pronounced rump, similar to the GR Supra.
The core of the innovation is the four-cylinder boxer engine, which now appears enlarged to 2.4 liters displacement. As a result, the car now produces 234 hp and delivers 250 Nm of torque. That is well-intentioned, but the turbocharger or compressor required by many customers is missing. This is apparently reserved for the other two GR models. Herwig Daenens from the development department says: “A turbo didn’t seem necessary to us, instead we optimized the direct injection.”
Daenens also emphasizes that the body is now stiffer than the previous model, and the GR 86 is a bit flatter and wider than the GT 86. Even more important: the vehicle is now 20 kilograms lighter. This could actually help over the lack of turbo.
Due to the slightly larger engine, however, it was necessary to shift the center of gravity backwards and downwards in order to maintain the same balance as compared to the predecessor or to improve it.
On the first drives through the Catalan hinterland and on the mountainous racetrack of Castellolí near Barcelona, it became apparent that the GR 86 also had a good weight distribution. The cornering stability is excellent thanks to the optional 18-inch sports wheels, and the acceleration is just as good as before. But that’s less than the look of the car promises.
While high-speed trips at 6000 to 7800 tours per minute were ideal for sporting progress with the GT 86, the optimum torque is now reached much earlier, which should have a positive effect on fuel consumption.
In addition, nothing of the excellent ergonomics has been lost inside. The interior is still well designed – for two people. The 2 + 2-seater has no usable rear seats, let alone legroom in the rear.
The front seats are optimally shaped to support the driver and front passenger even with high lateral forces. These are not uncommon for dynamic cornering in the Toyota GR 86. The frequent use of the gear lever supports driving pleasure. Compared to before, the shift travel of the six-speed transmission is now shorter.
Toyota Switzerland expects that in the summer of 2022, when the GR 86 comes onto the Swiss market, manual transmissions in particular will be ordered and only a few automatic versions.
There will be two levels of equipment and only a few options. When it comes to the price, Toyota Europa estimates that it will be a little below the smaller but more powerful GR Yaris. In Switzerland this would mean that the GR 86 would cost less than 37,900 francs. Then it would be a real bargain, because driving fun is also possible without a turbo. Maybe today’s customers see it that way too.