GT86 puts the fun back into motoring
Toyota has concentrated its recent efforts on hybrid technology and rather forgotten one of the areas it was best known for – entertaining sports cars.
It seems ages since the Celica, Supra and mid-engined MR2 disappeared from the showrooms but now Toyota is back, with a little help from Subaru.
Together they have created a classic lightweight, front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports coupé – Toyota call it's the GT86 with the almost identical Subaru being tagged the BRZ.
The low-slung GT86 screams dynamic purpose from every angle you look at it. Inside, it owes more to its partner Subaru than to any Toyota you can recall. It has a spartan and simple arrangement of instrumentation and controls set in a curious mix of hard cheap plastics, carbon effect trimming and stitched leather panels.
The dashboard is dominated by the prominent rev counter conveniently positioned immediately in front of the driver which also includes a digital speed read-out which is more useful than the analogue dial.
Front seat occupants recline, rather than sit, in leather and alcantara sports chairs with integrated head restraints.
When it comes to on-road performance a quick glance at the two massive rear exhaust pipes at either side of the rear leaves you in no doubt that this is going to sound great and the moment you press the start button it fires up a crisp throaty roar.
This sound starts life inside the 2-litre horizontally opposed, boxer, four cylinder petrol engine supplied by Subaru – Toyota provides the fuel injection fuel system.
Response to the throttle is almost instantaneous as a confident sprint time of under eight seconds demonstrates and you can easily take it all the way up to the 8,000 red line where there is still bags of energy.
It doesn't take long to learn that you need to keep it well above 4,000rpm to make the most of the engine characteristics. What you won't get from the GT86 is fuel economy. Toyota only promises a conservative 36mpg. With emissions rated at 181 g/km this isn't going to be the greenest sports car on the planet by a long way.
With its low centre of gravity and a limited slip differential the GT86 exhibits very stable road manners.
Typically for a rear-wheel drive sports car there is a slight hint of oversteer through the narrow but grippy 17-inch alloy wheels which is easy to compensate for as it drifts neatly into and through corners.
The accurate, quick reacting electric assisted steering has a nice balance with a light feel on the chunky, clutter free steering wheel.
When it comes to specification Toyota shows that the GT86 isn't just a stripped out racer, you get plenty of luxuries such as dual-zone air conditioning, CD radio audio, multi-function trip computer and cruise control which is something of a welcome surprise on a car in this sector.
Optional extras available include a DAB radio with six speaker audio, satellite navigation, Bluetooth and rear-view parking camera.
These are mere fripperies compared to the main purpose of the GT86 which is putting a bit of fun back into motoring in the 21st century and it does it by the bucket load.