Sister car to the Subaru BRZ, the Toyota 86 is the result of a joint collaboration between Subaru and Toyota. Both are similar compact sports cars with a two-door coupe body style, front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and 2+2 seats, differing in the front air intake form, trim details and suspension settings.
Modernising the iconic AE86, the Toyota 86 builds upon its small and lightweight predecessor to bring the brand's history of sports models up to date. Backed by half a century of Toyota's racing heritage, the 86 retains the motorsport spirit it is known for, attracting both the old boy racers and the new-age speed addicts.
Targeting previous AE86 owners who have given up the coupe for various reasons and encouraging them to relive their younger days, the 86 has been adapted to the lifestyles of today to also appeal to the new-generation of sports car lovers.
With its accentuated curves and deep-set lines, the 86 was awaiting my arrival in its strong and silent stance, fronting a trapezoidal-shaped radiator grille flanked by the HID lights on the GS model that I took out for a day. Exuding an air of charisma, this red 86 test drive unit I was given had an enthralling black and red accompanying interior décor theme which completed the first impression with a nod of admiration from me.
I got in and positioned myself nicely in the butt-hugging sports bucket seats, before pressing the red engine start button to wake the car's two-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated Boxer engine up. Once engaged in gear, I could feel the horizontally-opposed Boxer engine with Toyota's D-4S technology liven up on demand and get cracking.
Performance figures of 200bhp at 7,000rpm and 205Nm from 6,400 to 6,600rpm may not seem sufficient for purists, but it does deliver past initial expectations. There is also a built-in noise generator that lets out these aural notes after you pass 4,000rpm. The first two gears were pretty smooth, but I felt the shift from third to fourth gear (and vice versa) a tad jerky. Past the fourth gear and the pace of the 86 livens up two-fold, rewarding you with its potential in the high rev range.
I took the car all around the city, complete with stop lights aplenty and traffic congestion which extend onto the expressways. Engagement of gears was easy and I did not feel any strain from driving the manual gearbox in traffic delays. I just think it is a pity Singapore has no track for the car to be tested beyond the usual road limits!
Remembering that it is rear-wheel drive, be mindful when you take your corners, although the VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) does help to ensure that the car remains in place by controlling the engine output and brakes during oversteer, as well as understeer. The 86 gives a good balance, but occasionally it gets a little tail-happy.
Seated low in the 86, the interior of the cabin is simplistic and minimalist, even the steering wheel has no buttons on it at all. Although it is a 2+2 configuration, the back seats might be quite a squeeze for two full-sized adults and is probably more suited for holding your track day wheels.
The test drive unit I took here comes with a six-speed manual transmission, but there is an automatic transmission for those who prefer not to tire their feet out in times of traffic congestions. Over the S model, the GS model — that costs about S$9,000 more — gets paddle shifts, HID headlights, digital speedometer, cruise control and a frameless rear view mirror. Both S and GS variants come with AUX/USB port connectivity for you to plug your own music in.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the new 86 is already creating a significant authority in the world of motor racing with prominent motorsport personalities such as Japanese drifting veteran Nobuteru Taniguchi using it in the D1 Grand Prix series this year. Across the globe, the 86 is also used in drifting by Kenshiro Gushi in the Formula Drift USA series, under its American moniker — the Scion FR-S.
In Singapore, it made its first grand appearance to the public at Formula Drift Singapore at the end of June. Popular drifters such as local faces Ivan Lim and Jansen Tan performed demonstrations such as high-speed precision parallel parking and other driving stunts with the new 86.
Already establishing its popularity with motorsport enthusiasts and performance car lovers, I foresee the new 86 increasingly extending its entry into the various forms of motor racing and adding to Toyota's sporting history.
This is the car that a lot of motorsport enthusiasts have been waiting for and it could potentially aid in reviving the local aftermarket car sector, if not for the rising COE prices.
Toyota 86 GS (M) — Technical Specifications
Engine: 1,998cc 4-cylinder Boxer 16-valve DOHC
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Max Power: 200bhp at 7,000rpm
Max Torque: 205Nm at 6,400-6,600rpm
Top Speed: 226km/h
0-100km/h: 7.6 secs
Price with COE: S$195,988
Distributor: Borneo Motors