Toyota claims that the GT 86 comes with a concept called “Aero Sandwiching”, which means that the car uses aerodynamic elements that stabilize it from all directions, such as the dented contour on its roof and underbody. The carmaker claims that this doesn’t affect the drag coefficient and while we can’t tell you how that car would’ve felt without them, we did feel it sticking to the road very well at high speed, especially if we consider the fact that it uses normal tires, not supersport ones.
But before you reach the top speed, which, sits at about 220 km/h (137 mph), you first have to go through a series of steps, which we’ll cover below.
The LSD does its job extremely well, so you can take of quickly regardless of the road surface. The gearing is not short, like you get in hot hatches and the engine is begging you to take it to its 7,500 rpm limit. Actually, there’s a red shifting light that blinks before you hit 7,000 rpm, the point where the maximum power of 200 hp is offered. The short throw lever offers incredibly precise shifts, but you do get a few notches.
The closest competitor we can think of, in terms of power, weight and power delivery, is the Renault Clio RS
- it also has 200 hp delivered by a naturally aspirated engine, which also works with a six-speed manual and it weights about the same.
The Subaru boxer four-cylinder engine, which uses Toyota injection technology, sounds like it means business when you bring it to life in the morning, but once it reaches is normal operating temperature its voice is not so impressive anymore, at least not until you reach the higher area of the rpm range, where it offers a sporty sound that’s a tad better than what you get in hot hatches.
The engine lacks low end torque, but in never actually feels lazy. However, we can’t say that it feels extremely poky either and this is because this car’s aim is not to kill its competition on the straights. Just like the Clio RS, this is a car for the bends, one for which fun equals more than just numbers. Speaking of numbers, even these tell the same story, as the 0 to 62 mph sprint sits somewhere around 7.5 seconds, which makes it slower that virtually all the hot hatches on the market.
Despite the Prius-borrowed tires, you get a fair amount of grip for everyday driving and the electronic nannies step in pretty aggressively when the back eventually starts dancing.
Once you put the electronics to sleep, it’s just you, the chassis and the LSD. You can tell that the rear axle will step out and when it does each of its moves is predictable. The 200 hp and 205 Nm (151 lb-ft) are enough to allow you to control the slide and the car pleases through the lack of inertia in any kind of movement, so we must thanks the engineers for keeping things light.
The chassis is so well balanced that it’s really difficult to upset this in a violent way, even if, for example, you squash the brake pedal in the middle of a bend. And the braking part is nice too - at first, the brakes seemed undersized, but the low mass of the car allows them to offer proper stopping power and decent fading resistance.
The GT 86 doesn’t feel quite as fun as a Clio RS on the straights, but when you reach a corner the full potential of the chassis is revealed and it manages to push all the right buttons in a way that a hot hatch will never be able to. The fact that you have to be a part of the process, you have to work hard in order to go fast in the GT 86, is also a pretty rare and, of course, valuable asset these days.
However, you do have to pay a price for all this technicality of the mechanical setup and we’ll cover this both in the “Comfort”
“Sharp right, sharp right, watch the cars behind you, you’ve missed the entrance to the race track!” This is what we were hearing on the walkie-talkie from our colleagues in the support car as we passed the circuit that was supposed to hold our drifting session for this test drive. We were so enthusiastic about taking the GT 86 to the track that we floored it and missed the entrance by a mile.
We got back and as we were entering the circuit, we didn’t know what to do first: get the unnecessary equipment out of the car or disable the electronics.
SInce the car uses normal 215/55 R17 tires, it’s fairly easy to start a drift, as well as to maintain it. The LSD does a wonderful job and you can rely on it, for example, to induce the oversteer in the tight corners. All you have to do is to perform a stronger downshift and the back will step out, then you step on the gas and use the steering, which has a short ratio and offers decent feedback, to catch the slide. We would’ve liked more power at times, but the little boxer unit proved muscular enough to allow us to play sideways for quite a while.
On the track, the GT 86 is so well balanced and comes with all the right mechanical ingredients: a suspension setup that favors drifting, a high-revving, naturally aspirated engine that delivers power in perfectly linear way, a manual gearbox, a LSD and tires that give up earlier than those on most sports cars.
The new Hachi-Roku makes drifting seems as easy as an arcade racing game. Even when you make a mistake and you start spinning, the car’s low weight allows you to brings things back under control fast.Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
So, you must be feeling like a smart guy now, right? Here you are, standing proud behind the wheel of your sports car, smiling at be thanks to this and waiting for me to smile back. Well, maybe I would show you my teeth if that wouldn't lead to you inviting me to be taken for a ride in this machine which has a seat that squeezes me, a sound that deafens me and it's so low that I can't wear my favorite skirts.
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