This review is a follow up to our initial review of the Toyota 86 at the official Australian Media Launch, written by the only non-publishing media house invited to the launch. Our original review can be viewed here.
The original review mainly consisted of driving the car at five different track events and driving it through unfamiliar roads for half a day. For this review we had the car for three days and covered around 600km driving it to all different parts of Sydney from Manly to Cronulla many times over. The car was driven by us but also by a number of friends who are both sports car fans and just general drivers who don’t particularly care about the car that they are driving as long as it reliably allows them commute.
The car that we drove was a fuji red Toyota 86 GT manual that has by the end of this test covered almost 2100km and the rear tyres appear to be almost ready for replacement due to all the fun that various drivers have had with this car, especially at the media launch. During the three days of driving this car I had become very accustomed and adjusted to driving it, so much so, that when I sat in my daily driver VW Golf 118TSI, I felt like I was sitting on a bag of jelly beans and both the steering and clutch felt soft and lifeless. The Toyota 86 has made the golf feel so wrong, when it always felt pretty good. The sheer reason for this is the pureness, connection and feedback that the Toyota 86 gives you with any drive that you may be undertaking.
Everyone who drove the car was beyond impressed with its handling, and willingness to rev as well as the noise that the engine makes around 6k-7k rpm. They also loved the sleek lines and curves as well as the great steering position, amazing line of sight (blind spots), fantastic gear box and the huge fun factor for the price. Comparing the car now, to when I drove it at the launch, the engine felt like it had loosened up and would get so quickly to 4k rpm, a friend even compared it to a motorbike. Despite very spirited driving the car appeared to average 11.9L/100km which to me was an extremely acceptable figure. It would be impossible to tell you what the car would achieve being driven gently, as this car simply encourages you to drive it and I am sure that if you buy one that is how you will drive it too. In sixth gear doing 110km/h on the motorway made the engine rev very quietly as it approached 3k and cabin noise was reasonably quiet.
During the drive, many spotted the car, and smiled and pointed at it, took photos and even chatted to us asking many questions and happily regurgitated all the facts and figures that had been flying around the internet in the last couple of years during the development period as well as since the official announcement in November last year. Some have even sent us photos of the close encounters with our car driving around Sydney which was very humbling. It was a great privilege and almost made us feel like we were hanging out with a celebrity. We took numerous pictures and videos trying to capture the car from less common angles and show what it is like in real life, rather than those of an air brushed model at a fashion launch. We accidentally ran into our forum member CheekyDonkey at McMahons Point and he told us about his white 86 GT and numerous parts he had already ordered from Japan for it as well as plans to even further reduce the weight of his car by taking out the seats and air con and wanting to take it on various track days. He is one of the lucky few to get his car this Monday the 25th of June 2012 and told us that his was the most exciting day of his life. He also pointed out that the engine had to be removed for the spark plugs to be changed on this car; luckily this won’t need to be done for 100K.
The handling of this car is truly impressive and I cannot even imagine how manic it would be with some stickier rubber. We did not turn off traction control on public roads, as we did not want to crash the car or be total hoons, and I can confidently say that some of the corners and roundabouts we successfully took almost defied gravity. We also did not try to do any handbrake turns, with its oversize handbrake perfectly positioned next to the manual gear stick for efficient hairpin handbrake turns or drifts. In Sydney with strict speed limits in place, a car that corners to me is far more enjoyable than a car that goes fast from 0-100. This is where the Toyota 86 is the ultimate people’s sports car, as it allows you to enjoy the twisty roads to such a degree that only cars over 100K could challenge it. I would also point out that this car feels quicker than it really is, and that further adds to the enjoyment of driving it.
I love the free revving engine and I think it is very well matched to the chassis and weight of this car. It feels very quick and zippy, albeit not stupendously quick as some turbo cars that a number of you may have driven or been driven in. The one phrase that kept getting repeated by all who have driven it is “it’s very responsive”. I also really like the progressive feel of the brake pedal and the car had no trouble stopping and felt safe in doing so from any speeds. The short shifting gearbox is sensational and even though the clutch is a little on the soft side, I almost instantly adapted to its friction point. You will be heal and toeing every down shift in no time. We also did a couple of 0-100 runs, however not as well as we would have liked, due to not being sure if second gear hits 100 km/h and not being able to check as the camera was in the way of the dash while we were recording. I am sure with a few more runs, we could get an even better time. Please look at some of the videos that we recorded below to get an idea of what we managed to clock. I think there is no point in raving on about how well this car feels to drive, and how much pure fun it is, as it has been repeated numerous times, by numerous people and publications, and it is completely TRUE!
Maybe it is how gorgeous this car looks in red, but a number of ladies from my office commented on how hot the car is and were very impressed when they though it was mine. I don’t think you can get this wow factor with any other car in this price range, or even close to its price range. The interior is very practical, super comfortable for a sports car, but also a little plain looking in terms of the dashboard and softness of the plastics that I am used to in my VW Golf. The wheel stalks are straight out of a corolla as are the climate control dials I am sure, the steering wheel has no button controls, the dashboard doesn’t have a digital display that integrates with the satnav, the lights and wipers are not automatic, tapping the left and right indicator does not make it blink for highway overtaking and you have to indicate by depressing the stalk all the way, there is no reverse camera or factory parking sensors, the audio sound was a little disappointing, in fact we just had it off for 98% of the driving, and enjoyed the engine instead. However the steering wheel and gear leaver felt fantastic to hold and steer. All the important basics have been covered exceptionally well. Would I exchange any of the above for added weight in this car? No way! In fact it is the reason why I would favour the GT over the GTS, as it simply does not have all the gimmicks that do not in any way improve the enjoyment and fun of this car and saves a massive 50kg. Chances are even if this is your daily driver, your phone satnav will do a better job anyway for the 5% of the time that you may use it when you don’t know where you are actually going, and if you like music/sound you will do away with the Toyota unit and standard speakers and add in a little amp. Another performance edge for the GT is the fact that when the suspension was tuned in Germany this is the model that they used.
We have had four people in the car at one point, and it is possible if the driver is not very tall (up to 1.80m). If you have a taller driver, and we had one person who is over 2m tall, then it is effectively a three seater, with the fourth seat used for bags and jackets. Yes a very tall person can comfortably drive this car, so do not think that this is a small person’s car only. As I sat in the back seat behind the front passenger I realised that being 1.8m tall I still had enough head room and my back rested very comfortably in the seat. It felt great to have the actual rear glass window above my head instead of the roof line. My feet were however half under the seat and legs like a penguin. I then realised that if there was a bit more room under the seat I could possibly be very comfortable in the back. I then instantly thought of checking if the passenger seat could be made to rise up like the drivers, but realised that it unfortunately could not.
The amount of room that you get in the boot is decent, similar to a VW polo gti, that my brother drives, if not a little more, and could easily fit a few bags of shopping. As has been previously reported, dropping the rear seats down, gives enough room for four tyres which is another cool feature. My grandma was impressed that the car had a clock, and very much liked how quickly the cabin heating reached a very warm temperature and it felt nice warming her legs.
In conclusion, this car makes driving very engaging and exciting and simply kills any enjoyment you may have had driving your other or previous cars, unless you had a very special car. Toyota & Subaru with the BRZ are holding onto a real winner and will see numerous old and new fans return to the brand, provided that Toyota/Subaru respond to the global demand for the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ and expand to another factory. The biggest problem with this car is the limited supply, although this will strongly favour any of you who have managed to secure one in terms of resale value as well as the exclusivity factor. Please look at a tonne of photos and videos that we have taken with this car, as well as commentary in the videos for more details. The biggest problem we faced with this car is that we only had it for three days and had to give it back to Toyota.
Please look at this thread from our forum for more member reviews of the Toyota 86. Quickly recapping from our previous story, the toyota 86 was officially released on the 16th of June 2012 in Australia with the following RRP (add on road costs in your state for drive away pricing)