These days, boring family SUVs represent the majority of the new car sales. However, there are still a few manufacturers brave enough to offers some proper driver’s cars. Sure, you might get fewer cup holders, a less spacious luggage compartment or a smaller sized infotainment display but this is more than made up for in driving excitement and precision. One of such cars is the Toyota GT86.
If you thought that the GT86 was a technological marvel containing innovative new safety systems and advanced components, you’d be mistaken I’m afraid! This compact vehicle is not exactly a state of the art sports machine like the Nissan GT-R or Acura NSX; What it is though, is a classic rear-wheel-drive sports coupe with a front-mounted, flat-four engine, manual transmission and almost perfect weight distribution. This makes it a very desirable piece of metal indeed since it provides pure mechanical driving sensations, something car people all love!
The GT86 was created as a joint venture between Subaru and Toyota with Subaru providing the engine and the drive train and Toyota taking care of the rest. That is why the GT86 has a 2.0-litre flat-four engine, which is Subaru’s signature engine configuration. Also, mounting a flat-four engine upfront ensures that the centre of remains gravity very low, a key reason why GT86 handles like a dream.
With 57/43 front to rear weight distribution, the GT86 has an almost ideal balance, but that is not all. The whole idea behind the engineering brief was to create a perfectly controllable lightweight sports car with not too much power so it wouldn’t be too dangerous but still powerful enough to provide excellent driving dynamics and fun.
With 205 HP from the high-revving 2.0-litre engine, the GT86 has plenty of grunt, but it is still quite manageable even for less experienced drivers. This is an essential characteristic which makes the GT86 suitable for beginner drivers who can learn the basics of performance driving and use it for occasional track days, without the fear of the car being overpowered and dangerous.
Race Car Underpinnings
Even though the GT86 is not crazy powerful or insanely fast in stock form, this machine can be easily transformed into a competent race car of a few varieties. You can turn it into a tire-burning drift monster with crazy stance and a big wing at the back or alternatively you can also make it a very capable track car with very few modifications, removing unnecessary components and making it even lighter than it already is. The GT86 also makes a fantastic rally car and in Japan, they are successful GT Series racers. Thanks to sound engineering, the GT86 is an excellent base for any type of racing, whether you are a professional racing driver or just ambitious amateur.
Sheer Driving Pleasure
There is a theory that modern car enthusiasts are so overwhelmed by the vast array of choices, cars, information, and options that they forgot what is the essence of our hobby – driving. The GT86 is the car that’s sole purpose is to make you stop talking, stop googling, stop thinking and start driving! The GT86 is a car which can make you get up early on weekend mornings and go for a blast down your favourite mountain road. No distractions, just you, 205 horses, a manual transmission and a twisty empty patch of tarmac. In the 21st century, there are very few cars on the market which deliver this kind of sensation and the GT86 should be praised for being one of them!
We cannot talk about immense practicality options since the GT86 is a small sports coupé. What you will find though is that it has plenty of room inside the cabin and a pretty decent trunk as well. Even though the GT86 is technically a 2+2 coupé with small rear seats, you can easily fit a lot of stuff back there or use them for child seats. The boot is bigger than its Mazda MX5 rival and it can easily carry enough luggage for a short vacation. For a car designed to be precise driver’s machine, this is more than anybody should expect meaning that the GT86 is a perfectly usable everyday car.
With all performance cars, there is always a question of the price and the maintenance. In the case of Toyota GT86, you will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that this model is probably the cheapest proper driver’s car you can buy new. The brand new GT86 costs around $33,000 in America and around 27,000 pounds in the UK, which is the price of an ordinary mid-class family sedan.
Even better, decent second-hand examples can be found for just over £10,000 in Great Britain and around $15,000 in the States, which is a bargain. As far as the maintenance goes, the GT86 has slightly more advanced technology than your run-of-the-mill Corolla or RAV4, but still, you can service it at your local Toyota dealer for reasonable prices.