1 Jun 2012
TOYOTA stunned the sports car world with lower-than-expected pricing for its long-anticipated return to the affordable sportscar scene.
The rear-drive 86 – pronounced ‘Hachi-Roku’ or ‘eight-six’ in Japan – reconnected Toyota with driving enthusiasts for the first time since the demise of the Celica and MR2 Spyder series in 2005.
Its name evokes the last of the rear-drive Corolla-based Levin models produced from 1983 to 1987.
Co-developed with Subaru – whose version is called the BRZ – the 86 is essentially the same vehicle as the latter and is built by Subaru in Japan.
Initially available in two variants – GT and GTS – the 86 is shorter than a Corolla at 4240mm, wider than a Rukus at 1775mm and lower than a Yaris at 1285mm.
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 that changes gears in just 0.2 seconds and blips the throttle on downshifts.
The boxer engine design provides a low (460mm) centre of gravity and the lowest driver hip-point of any production Toyota.
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.
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.
When it was new