Toyota has gone and given their sporty and fun 86 a little refresh and added some extra refinement for good measure at the same time.
And so it was off to RedStar Raceway for some track and gymkhana time to sample exactly what this means. Toyota says the 86 is inspired by Toyota’s fine sports car heritage and models such as the 2000GT and AE86 Corolla, and has equally taken on the role of a torchbearer for Toyota’s mission to build cars that are genuinely more engaging and rewarding to drive.
It’s a direction promoted from the top by Toyota president Akio Toyoda who declared that “if it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car”. Toyota further attached a piece from Wikipedia that sums up the characteristics of a sports car pretty well.
A sports car is defined as a small, usually two-seater (or 2+2), two-door vehicle designed for “spirited performance and nimble handling”.
It goes on to say that sports cars may be spartan or luxurious, but high manoeuvrability and minimum weight are a requisite. They may be equipped for racing, aerodynamically shaped, have a low centre of gravity and steering and suspension designed for precise control at high speeds.
And this is what you really need to understand about this Toyota before you take your Golf GTI out and threaten to kill every 86 dead on the N12 highway or at the traffic lights outside McDonalds on a Thursday night.
The Toyota 86 is not a fast straight line highway car, it is not a traffic light racer either, it is a car for purists who want to attack corners on the road or the track. The nay sayers will rightly point out that this purist privilege does not come cheap, and the 86 range comes in at “not the bargain it was” price of R449 600 for the Standard model, R494 400 for the High and R519 400 for the High Automatic.
For this you get subtle changes in the exterior styling that makes the 86 look that little bit better than it did before.
You have new 86 emblazoned LED headlights with integrated indicators, a lower-set nose with revised front bumper, new 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, new rear wing with new rear light clusters with LED lamps and light guides at the back.
Under the skin is where most of the action has been, and there have been detailed adjustments to the suspension and damping, targeting improvements in handling, stability and ride comfort, along with an increase in body rigidity.
The car now features a Track Mode setting via the Vehicle Stability Control and traction control systems, and this allows you to get closer to the limit with the safety net still being there to catch you when you run out of road or talent.
You also now have a new multi-information display in the High spec models that gives you real-time access to power and torque curves, G-forces and a stopwatch to chart successive lap times, if you are talented enough to watch these while you attack a mountain pass or your local track.
I preferred the car with the traction control systems all switched off. It is not an overly powerful car that threatens to bury you in the wall each time you want to chuck it around. For the limited road use I would do in the 86, I would keep the systems on and rookies might use Track Mode when they hit the track for the first time.
The 86’s powertrain is unchanged, retaining its unique format of a high-revving, naturally aspirated 2.0-litre, horizontally opposed “boxer” engine driving the rear wheels. Driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, the 2.0-litre 16-valve DOHC unit produces a maximum 147kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm of torque between 6400 and 6600rpm.
The 0-100km/h acceleration is claimed to be 7.6 seconds for the manual and 8.2 seconds for the automatic. Inside the changes are minimal too. The size and shape of the steering wheel has been changed to provide better grip and there are now switches to adjust the new 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-function display and audio system.
The refreshed 86 has a new, unified “all black” interior finish that adds to the sports car feel. A new carbon-fibre mesh pattern trim has been added to the door switch panels and the ventilation control panel on the centre console.
A complimentary suede-like material with ‘86’ embossing is on the dashboard facia. The standard grade model’s cloth upholstery has also been upgraded. So there you have it.
The Toyota 86 is not a hot hatch or software tuned dyno queen type of car, it is a refreshed, slightly better version of a real rear wheel driven driver’s car.
- 86 STD R449 600
- 86 High R494 400
- 86 High AT R519 400
Warranty is three-years / 100 000km and the service plan is four-years / 60 000km.