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How much? £24,995
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1998cc boxer four-cylinder, 197bhp @ 7000rpm, 151lb ft @ 6600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 7.7sec 0-62mph, 137mph, 40.9mpg, 160g/km
How heavy / made of? 1239kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4240/1775/1285
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 3 out of 53

Feelgood factor

Rated 5 out of 55

Readers' rating

Rated 4 out of 54

Toyota GT-86 (2012) CAR review: a second opinion

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

First Drives

18 May 2012 09:20

So absolutely has the company hung its hat on the environmentally-conscientious peg of hybrid drive technology of late that, until the arrival of this new 2+2, the fastest accelerating production Toyota was… Ta-daaah! The Land Cruiser V8.

Mercifully, and not before time, the new 2012 Toyota GT86 changes all that. But only just… Because, drawing on a long heritage of front engine, rear-wheel drive sports cars that includes the beautiful 2000GT (the top of which was lopped off in You Only Live Twice merely so that Sean Connery could fit on board) and the somewhat lumpen but eagerly customised AE86, the world’s most compact four-seater sports car is actually not that quick.

Toyota GT86: CAR's second review

The GT86 is a joint project between Subaru and Toyota. Its engine bay plays host to the former’s legendary 2.0-litre boxer engine, fettled by the latter to produce 197bhp and 151lb ft of torque without recourse to super- or turbocharging. The upshot is a 0-62mph dash despatched in a fairly modest 7.7 seconds, and a top speed of some 137mph. Satisfactory, rather than jaw-snapping…

Outright performance, however, is not the point here. The GT86 spent its gestation inhaling Weightwatchers protein drinks, and weighs in at just 1239kg.

Combine a healthy power-to-weight ratio with a perfect driving position, a centre of gravity lower than a Porsche Cayman, a sweetly balanced chassis, a short throw (if somewhat nuggety) six-speed gearshift and nicely weighted, accurate steering and, even in the hands of a rank amateur, you have a recipe for fun. At £24,995, relatively affordable fun to boot.

Toyota GT86: the handling bit

At one level, the GT86 delivers absolutely on its promise, with beautiful composure, balance and accuracy belying the need to pour monstrous gouts of power through the rear wheels to extract entertainment. Especially since Toyota has equipped the car with the same relatively skinny rubber as that with which the puritanical Prius is shod.

Ironically, though, it’s the GT86’s very lack of power, or, to put it more precisely, low-end torque, that makes the car a less wholesome proposition for the target market – amateur enthusiasts who haven’t got a fortune to spend on their thrills - than intended.

And that’s because the chassis is so good you have to be going at a pretty serious lick to extract the traction control off, tail-out drifting fun available. Track performance is largely irrelevant, because you have the full width of the road at your disposal and know that nothing’s going to be coming the other way. But on the road, you don’t, which restricts drifting diversions to corners you can see through.

Sadly, the GT86’s lack of torque means that, in second gear corners such as the occasional hairpin, there’s barely enough low-down grunt to budge a surprisingly sticky back end, whilst, in third gear corners you’ll be going at quite a lick, making efforts to hang the tail out a somewhat daunting prospect for the potentially ham-fisted amateur at whom this car is so squarely aimed.

Anthony ffrench-Constant's verdict

Bizarrely, then, what we have here a is very fine sports car indeed, actually shackled by the quality of its own dynamic abilities: amateurs will want more grunt to extract traction-free entertainment at lower speeds, the more talented will want more grunt because… Well, they always do.


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Toyota GT-86 (2012) CAR review: a second opinion


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Biram Desai

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Biram Desai says

RE: Toyota GT-86 (2012) CAR review: a second opinion

Those of us who are motorcyclists dont want another reason to visit the laudrette in a hurry ! Nice car, drifting probably best on track only.

11 February 2013 17:14



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wittgenfrog says

RE: Toyota GT-86 (2012) CAR review: a second opinion

Agrees with CHelme & Greg128 - For me the 'fun' of driving (on Public roads, at least)  is about the subtleties of feel and dynamics  I also get pleasure from my ability, or more frequently inability, precisely to judge traffic flows etc. in order to get from  A-B as quickly & smoothly as possible. 

I enjoy being able to drive 'politely', whilst going quicker than most of the BMW\Audi carve-you-up\tailgate merchants.

The notion that anyone might consistently drive about on British B roads 'drifting' the car fills me with terror.  I've no doubt that (unlike my Elise) this car can attain easily controlled tail-slides, but that's a trick for Journalists on test-tracks, not drivers on the roads.

11 February 2013 16:13



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rojay says

RE: Toyota GT-86 (2012) CAR review: a second opinion

 Agree with Autoblogger - the car isn't exactly ugly, but it already looks dated and dull IMO.

11 February 2013 15:32



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Gregg218 says

RE: Toyota GT-86 (2012) CAR review: a second opinion

Surely, hooning about and drifting on public roads should be discouraged by true automotive journalists?  The Toyota as presented provides grip with an acceptable level of power to enjoy driving on a B-road.  It is a sad day when the magazine of Setright condemns a car for actually sticking to the tarmac with the assistance of various electronic nannies.

11 February 2013 14:28



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CHelme says

RE: Toyota GT-86 (2012) CAR review: a second opinion

 @JhonnyD -I have to agree.

We must not forget that the real fun in driving A & B roads in the UK emanates from the delicate feel the car offers through the steering wheel and seat, not to mention throttle and break feel, the sound of the engine etc…not some ridiculous attempt at oversteer (iId much rather feel the car delicately communicate to me its limit than slide it around like a lunatic), or hurtling down a straight at insane speeds, though granted maybe once or twice an over-steery roundabout exit may be fun...

This will no doubt prove to be a very satisfying car to own, similar to the MX 5 for it give you enough to explore the limits and once you know your car, you can indulge in the occasional delinquency.

Having seen two in the flesh, both black, It can be a handsome car especially from the 3/4 Front view. From the rear and rear 3/4 it looks a little heavy, the body dwarfing the rear wheels.

For me though there is one ingredient missing and that’s a charismatic engine note-perhaps upgraded intakes and SS exhausts would help the boxer engine sing a bit better, and give it some extra poke too? I would not wish for a Turbo, you'd lose throttle feel.

11 February 2013 13:55

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