The Toyota GT 86 definitely isn’t a car for the masses. And making the aforementioned statement might make us seem like team Obvious, we have to explain that it appeals to a niche within a niche. You see, we were already talking about the performance car-driving masses. The GT 86 has had the unfortunate fate of coming to the world in an era when the hot hatch class is one of the most effervescent segments in the car industry.
And it’s hot hatches
that the GT 86 should fear the most. In the real world, you don’t get to play on the GT 86’ field very often. This is a car that’s mean for drifting, a car that can teach anybody about what performance cornering means, but on public roads people that drive fast cars usually get to enjoy straight line acceleration and this is where the GT 86 loses to hot hatches.
It’s also a tad more expensive than many hot hatches, with our test car’s price of EUR34,338 (the prices start at EUR32,800) placing it head to head with some of the most expensive representatives of the hot hatch segment.
In the US, its Scion FR-S sister model starts at $26,022, which pits it against cars like the V6-powered Camaro and Mustang. Somehow, the choice for Americans seems easier, as the FR-S is left trailing the pony cars’ trails on the straight but butchers them through the bends, whereas in Europe it also gets the advantage of being the most affordable sports car by a hefty margin, but it is somehow difficult to choose a sports car that can easily be overtaken by some pumped-up hatchbacks on the straights.
However, the car itself is something the industry needed. First of all, like we said, in Europe sports cars start at prices that play in the 40 to 50 thousand Euro league, something that’s incredibly difficult to touch by most young enthusiastic drivers.
Pricing aside, this is a creation that uses the classic sports car recipe and ticks all the right boxes for a proper track day machine. It’s got “pure” written all over it and maybe the most impressive fact about it is that it forgives you for mistakes behind the wheel with the same ease that it lets its back end let go to allow you to have fun. This is a superb piece of driving machinery. It’s like the combination between a mechanical watch and a crossbow
In fact, fun is both a huge asset for the GT 86 and also a controversial word. It is a key asset of the car thanks to the fact that Toyota’s creation manages to offer oversteering good times in an era when every new generation of a sports car makes it offer more grip and less powersliding potential, so that it appeals to a wider audience. And fun is a controversial term to use for the GT 86 due to the car’s overall feeling - it does have all the right technical assets, makes perfect use of them and offers you plenty of good times, but somehow it doesn’t manage to be 100 percent as crazy as certain hot hatches.
And since we spent quite some time comparing it with go-fast hatchbacks, we have to tell you that it beats these in the fuel efficiency race by quite a margin. If you take a look at out test drive fuel consumption figures, you really wouldn’t say that they belong to a sports car. To be more precise, when we didn’t wonder to far from the speed limits, we got 10 l/100 km (23.5 mpg) inside the city and 8.7 l/100 km (27 mpg) on the open road. Of course, the values can climb much higher if you throw a cigarette under the pedal on the right and use this to put it out, but this is another story.
If we look at it as a “normal” car, one that you also use for A to B travels where no piece of the rear tires is turned into smoke, the GT 86 would need some extra sound proofing and superior cabin materials to be able to convince customers to pay close to EUR35,000 for it.
We’re curious to see if Toyota will address these issues, especially since rumors floating around the web indicate that what we’ve seen so far is just the beginning of the Toyobaru project. The two companies are expected to be preparing an even more powerful version of the cars and who knows, maybe they’ll also add a touch of refinement (why not a special trim level?) to make it more appealing. Will the extra soundproofing will the fun by adding weight or dampening the sensations or will the premium materials bring the price up too much and make the car pointless? Not if they get it right and certain models from the past show us that they certainly can.Continue reading