Toyota 86

December 11, 2011
 

First drive: Toyota GT 86

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Written by: Goran Has
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First drive: Toyota GT 86

The GT 86 is probably the most anticipated sports coupe in years… and we’ve put it through its paces. See what John Simister has to say.

This should strike an Octane cFirst drive: Toyota GT 86hord. ‘People are bored with cars which are too powerful, have too much grip and don’t let the driver do enough,’ says Toyota development engineer Yoshi Sasaki.  So the coupé, spearhead of the company’s new pledge to make all its cars fun to drive, has no turbocharger and no four-wheel drive. It’s back to basic engineering with a front engine, rear-wheel drive and a mission to give its driver riotous entertainment.

That front engine is a 2.0-litre, 200bhp flat-four, which tells you there’s a connection. It’s true; has announced a near-identical twin called , but the Toyota is the one we’ll see the more of when UK sales start next June at around £25,000.

The last time anyone made a flat-four, rear-drive sports car was when Jowett brought us the Jupiter 60 years ago. Toyota hasn’t drawn on that as inspiration, citing instead the 1960s 2000GT for the glasshouse shape and the 1980s AE86 Corolla Twin-Cam with rear-wheel drive and a strong facility for tail-out amusement. Such simple pleasures are scarce for new-car buyers today, with the Mazda MX-5 the sole lowish-cost representative of a once-obvious formula. The GT 86/ twins put this right, and add a lower-than-a-Cayman centre of gravity to the mix.

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