Toyota 86 GTS: Basic, but that’s what you pay for


What is it?

Low slung, long lose, stubby boot. It’s classic sports car design and represents Toyota’s joint venture with Subaru — the 86 wears the Toyota badge.

I was lucky enough to drive, back to back, the 86 GTS with a 6-speed manual and Dynamic Sports Pack, and the GTS auto. Both have the same flat four “boxer” engine supplied by Subaru with six speeds in either a notchy manual or crisp auto.

A mild facelift in 2016 saw Toyota deliver a small power increase and final drive changes for the manual.

Toyota’s Orlando Rodriguez says the manual’s sales figures were the deciding factor in a 5kW power bump and change to the transmission.

The auto stays with a 147kW, while the manual goes to 152kW — both deliver peak power and torque at more than 6000 revs.

The manual’s final drive is 4.3:1, the auto stayed at 4.1:1. Torque is 205Nm for the auto from 6400rpm to 6600rpm. The manual is slightly higher at 212Nm, and tops out at 6800rpm.

Fuel economy figures aren’t horrible either. The auto gets 7.1L/100km and the manual, 8.4L/100km


What’s it cost?

There’s some serious bang for your buck.

The “standard” GTS is priced from $40,497, while the GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports Pack is priced from $43,534 driveaway.

The Manual was finished in a special colour called Apollo Blue. It’s the same blue found on the immediately popular hybrid RAV4 and hybrid Corolla Sports.

The Auto was in White Liquid, a delicious looking pearlescent shade. The auto is $42,866 with Ignition Red, $43,381 with the Liquid White. Metallics are a $500 option.

The interior is sports car snug. The front seats are lever adjusted, not the more preferable electric or roller dial.

Back seat room, isn’t. Even with the front seats pushed forward for a normal sized adult, there’s effectively no rear leg room.

There’s a deliberate design ethic embodied by the 86 — and it’s a retro theme.

Bright red LED backlighting with a blocky calculator look stand out. These are found in the temperature dial displays and clock.

The silver look found in 1980s Toyotas is here too. Slightly slabby looking plastics are mitigated by a swathe of Alcantara on the left side and on top of the dash binnacle.

The 86 still offers a CD player. And a 6.1 inch touchscreen with a solid black surround dominates the centre stack. However sound is AM/FM only, with no DAB. A USB port allows connection for apps.

The cloth covered seats have a two position heating option, and only the base is heated — not the seat back.  There is plenty of support, with the sides and back wrapping the driver and passenger in a snug embrace.

Outside the GTS manual sports a black wing and black 17 inch alloys with 215/45 Michelin rubber. The headlights have LED driving lights and there are aero strakes in the lower bumper’s driving or fog lights. The rear lights are full LED.

Information for the driver is in the form of analogue dials and a 4.3 inch LCD screen with graphs for power and torque, G-Force, fuel useage, and battery charge — alongside water and oil temperatures.

Storage is in the shape of bottle holders in the doors and centre console. The boot is surprisingly capacious, with a week’s shopping filling it nicely.

It’s a bit light on for safety though. Seven airbags and a reverse camera are essentially it.

But there’s Toyota’s 5-year, unlimited kilometre warranty to back up issues, with seven years on offer if serviced through Toyota with genuine spare parts.


What’s it go like?

Although a plus 6000 rev point for peak power and torque sounds like a recipe for sluggishness, a 1250kg dry weight means anything but. 

The manual gear selector is notchy, as mentioned, with a well sprung mechanism and a weight to the clutch that allows for an almost launch control start. Perfect pressure in means you can dial up the revs, lift your left foot, and the result is decent acceleration without wastage. 

There’s audio to enjoy too. The induction system brings forth a raspy note, albeit artificially enhanced, from around 3000rpm. It’s a sound that adds to the overally driving experience when pushing the 86 GTS to the extent of its ability.

But in reality the 86 feels quicker than it really is, because the speedo tells a different story.

The Dymanic Sports pack adds Sachs suspension and it’s a pearler.

It’s hard, yes. Taut, yes. Able to have the tyres roll over a coin and tell you what type and year of manufacture? Yes. 

Uncomfortable? No, not really in the scheme of things. There’s enough compliance to iron out harsher conditions — but you need to remember that it’s a sports car.

The steering, too, is sharp. Just three turns from lock to lock means instant response and out on the road, it brings corners to life.

It’s this sort of driving that showcases the low centre of gravity and the almost but not quite ready to break loose chassis tuning. Those relatively thin tyres also add to the skatiness deliberately engineered in for the fun factor.

Let’s not forget the Brembo stoppers. These, too, are beautifully calibrated when it comes to feedback from the pedal.

Due to the physical size of the 86, fuel tank capacity is just 50 litres.

We returned figures in largely urban driving of 7.9L/100km for the auto and 8.6km/100km for the manual. 


What we like?

  • It’s a driver’s car
  • Embodies a sports car in looks and design
  • Manual hookup and getaway is something to be enjoyed time and again


What we don’t like?

  • Lack of rear seat room
  • Lack of extra seat adjustment
  • Not much else


The bottom line?

The value comes from what it does.

Essentially it’s a basic two-door, hard-top, sports car. It has no other pretensions.

To that end, it delivers 100 per cent upon its promise and you cannot ask for more than that. In Apollo Blue, the lithe curves are even more appealing and attracted more than a few stares.

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Toyota 86 GTS manual, priced from $43,534
  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 6/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 6.5/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 8/10

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