Car reviews - Toyota - 86 - coupe
5 Jun 2012
TOYOTA has surprised the market with a lower than anticipated starting price of $29,990 for its new rear-wheel-drive 86 sportscar in Australia.
The most anticipated Toyota in living memory is now set to reignite the affordable sports coupe market in Australia in much the same way that the first-generation Celica did almost 41 years ago.
Only a year ago, after the FT-86 concept was shown at the Geneva motor show in March 2011, Toyota Australia public relations manager Mike Breen expressed the hope it would be able to offer the long-awaited 2+2 for somewhere in “the low-30s”.
In addition to the base GT model, Toyota will offer a more highly specified GTS variant priced at $35,490 plus on-road costs.
A six-speed Toyota automatic transmission costs an extra $2500.
The rear-drive 86 – officially as in ‘eight-six’ or ‘Hachi-Roku’ in Japanese – will be available from local Toyota dealers from June 18.
It will strive to reconnect Toyota with driving enthusiasts for the first time since the demise of the Celica and MR2 Spyder series in 2005.
“The 86 will serve as a halo car for Toyota, expanding the brand into a new dimension of driving performance,” said Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor at the car’s media release in Canberra this week.
“It is a game-changer, demonstrating Toyota’s commitment to ‘waku doki’ – designing and engineering cars that really get your heart pumping.”
Co-developed with Subaru – whose version called the BRZ arrives next month – the 86 is essentially the same vehicle and is built by Subaru in Japan.
Its name not only evokes the last of the rear-drive Corolla-based Levin models produced from 1983 to 1987 (and only sold in Australia as the niche-market Sprinter), but also in its 86mm x 86mm bore and stroke dimensions, which the newcomer shares with the previous Celica and MR2.
Work on the 86 commenced in 2007, with an example of the 1967 Toyota 2000GT placed in the design studio alongside a clay model, according to chief engineer Tetsuya Tada.
Unique visual cues on the 86 include a T-mesh pattern for the grille, door-switch base, instrument cluster, rear fog light and spare wheel cover.
The car is shorter than a Corolla at 4240mm, wider than a Rukus at 1775mm and lower than a Yaris at 1285mm.
Initially the 86 will be available in two variants – GT and GTS.
Standard equipment on the GT will include a new five-stage electronic stability control system, seven airbags, reach and height-adjustable steering, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, lightweight 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, daytime-running lights and a multi-information display.
The GTS, meanwhile, scores 17-inch alloys, a larger information display screen, a digital speedometer, satellite-navigation with live traffic updates, auto-levelling high-intensity discharge headlights, leather and Alcantara “accented” front seats with heaters, dual-zone climate-control, LED daytime-running lights, and what is claimed to be the world’s first frameless rear-vision mirror.
Under the bonnet is Subaru’s all-new 2.0-litre horizontally opposed ‘boxer’ naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, which boasts direct injection for the first time in this style of powerplant, as well as a high compression ratio of 12.5:1.
It drives the rear wheels via an Aisin-supplied six-speed manual gearbox, or a six-speed torque-converter auto (with shift paddles on the GTS version) that changes gears in just 0.2 seconds and blips the throttle on downshifts.
A sound generator transmits the exhaust note into the cabin.
The boxer engine design provides a low (460mm) centre of gravity and the lowest driver hip-point of any production Toyota – 400mm, which is comparable with the Porsche Cayman.
For better balance, the powertrain and driving position are set low and as far back as possible, resulting in a 53:47 weight distribution.
Running on 98 RON premium unleaded, power and torque outputs are 147kW at 7000rpm (thus breaking the 100bhp per litre barrier) and 205Nm from a narrow 6400-6600rpm, for a 0-100km/h sprint-time of 7.6 seconds and a 226km/h top speed.
The auto-equipped models are 0.6s slower to 100km/h and have a top speed of only 210km/h.
Average combined fuel consumption is 7.1L/100km for the auto and 7.8L/100km for the manual, with emissions of 166 and 181 grams per kilometre respectively.
Fuel tank size is 50 litres.
Aiding efficiency is a low kerb weight of 1220kg, resulting in a power-to-weight ratio of 120kW per tonne.
The coupe has a low drag co-efficiency of 0.27 thanks to a low bonnet featuring a curved surface, a ‘pagoda’ roof design that widens towards the rear of the vehicle, an optimised boot angle, and an upturned rear diffuser.
All variants except the GT auto are fitted with a Torsen limited-slip differential for improved traction and grip.
Sitting on a new chassis benchmarked against the Cayman and related to the Subaru Impreza, the 86’s wheelbase measures 2570mm, the front track is 1520mm and the rear track is 1540mm.
Employing MacPherson struts up front, along with a double-wishbone rear end, and anti-roll bars all round, the 86 was devised to be “fun to drive” first and foremost.
The electric rack-and-pinion steering system has been positioned behind the front cross-member.
The GT uses ventilated disc brakes all around – 277mm diameter front and 286mm rear – while the GTS gets larger 294mm and 290mm units.
The GT runs on 205/55 R16 tyres while the GTS sits on 215/45 R17 items. Both come with a full-size spare.
With no traditional 2+2 rear-drive coupe competitors at its price point, Toyota must look further afield to poach customers for the 86.
They include the Subaru Impreza WRX (from $39,990), Mazda MX-5 ($44,265), Honda CR-Z ($34,990), BMW 120i Coupe ($47,400), Mini Coupe ($42,990), Peugeot RCZ ($54,990), Renault Megane RS250 ($41,990), Volkswagen Scirocco R ($47,490), Audi TT ($65,450), and Nissan 370Z ($68,640).
Toyota expects to sell about 1200 vehicles in the first year, with 1800 examples expected to be sold in 2013.
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