It was one cloudy day back in 2007 when we first heard that Toyota and Subaru are developing a common project that would one day allow the carmakers to offers us a sports car. The "Toyobaru" designation, which appeared at the same time with the information, which was filed under "rumors" back then, not only made our day brighter, but has also been placed on the podium of our list for Santa every year since then.
We're using this occasion to appologise for not behaving like we should - we think we're responsible for the numerous delays that led to the pushing of the Toyobaru's release to 2012.
But now all that is behind us, as the cars are here. There's no time for thoughts about the past, as we're rushing towards the Toyota office in order to get our driving gloves on the GT 86.
Toyota has placed the sports car game on "pause" for enough years to allow names like MR2, Celica or Supra to exit most people's vocabulary and now the company wants to make up for all that and even more, so it used "86" in the designation of the car to remind us of the Corolla Levin AE86, an early 80s compact sports car that has become a drift and tuning legend which still lives on in enthusiast circles.
As we're going to see over the course of this test drive, the number 86 is included in multiple areas of the car, being much more than just a marketing trick aimed at reminding us of the Hachi-Roku, another nickname for the AE86, which means "eight-six" in Japanese.
However, a contrasting thought crosses our minds as we start the four-cylinder boxer engine: Toyota has chosen an extremely difficult period to launch its budget-buy sports car, as the last few years have seen the hot hatch segment explode.
So, the GT 86 can't just be good in isolation, it also has to be able to face the gauntlet thrown by those cheeky hot hatches. Let's turn the key and find out what this sports car is made of. Oh, wait, the engine comes with a "Start" button.Continue reading