Toyota coupe in race to catch up

After a decade, Toyota is finally a serious sports car contender with its GR86 sports coupe. (supplied)

It has taken more than a decade but the Toyota 86 has finally been given the boost it has deserved, with the third iteration joining the GR Supra and GR Yaris to benefit directly from Toyota’s multi-championship-winning involvement in international motorsport with Toyota Gazoo Racing.

It has some catching up to do.

Evolving from the original 86, launched in Australia in 2012 signalling Toyota’s renewed commitment to sports-car engineering – remember the Supra, MR2 and Celica GT-Four – the classic front-engine/rear drive coupe has picked up the pace of the past 10 years.

The GR86, says Toyota, builds on this heritage with improved performance, dynamics, technology and styling, while retaining the affordability and usability of its predecessor. There’s no doubting the engineering advances over the original. The GR86 auto will hit 100km/h in between 6.3 and 6.8 secs, depending on the model, according to the maker.

However, there are some question marks against the pricing and comfort and convenience of the new car. The GR86 comes in two grades GT and GTS in manual and automatic versions. The new GR86 is priced at $43,240, plus on-road costs, for the GT with the GTS (the test vehicle) costing $45,390,

more than $8000 over the previous model (from $32,180).

As for comfort and convenience, getting in and out of the car can be fraught. Not only is the vehicle close to the ground, the two doors, on the wide side to allow entry to the back seats, have limited opening in tight spots found in modern public parking, requiring a degree of suppleness. On the plus

side, there’s enough space to take four specialist wheels for a day at the track.

The GR86 is covered by Toyota Warranty Advantage, offering five-year unlimited kilometre coverage extending to seven-years on engine and driveline, with capped-price servicing for the first five years or 75,000km and each 12-month/15,000m service costing $280.


On the outside, the GR86 retains the outgoing model’s sporty shape and proportions, while Toyota Gazoo Racing’s global motorsport input has added cooling and aerodynamic improvements with a 0.276 coefficient of drag.

Longer and lower than the previous 86, the new GR86 features a long bonnet, sloping roofline and tapered rear end with a prominent lip spoiler, giving the vehicle a low, planted stance. • GR badging front and rear.

The GTS has the advantage of intelligent adaptive LED headlights with auto-levelling and headlamp cleaner, LED daytime running lights and rear fog lights. Dual exhaust pipes and GR badging front and rear, plus 18-inch black alloy wheels with 215/40R18 tyres, complete the sporty look.


The new GR86 is offered in two trim levels, the GT featuring black fabric upholstery, while the GTS wears two-tone Ultrasuede and leather-accented upholstery in black/silver or black/red. While offering four sports-style deep-set seats, the coupe is strictly a 2+2, with rear leg room something of a myth,

even with average-size adults in the front.

The 237 litres of luggage space is enough, Toyota claims, to carry the fore-mentioned four spare wheels for a day of circuit driving, when the rear seats are folded, or to take luggage for a weekend away.


All variants feature an upgraded 8-inch multimedia infotainment system with DAB+ digital radio and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen is mated with a configurable 7-inch TFT colour LCD display with a Track Mode, designed with help from Toyota Gazoo Racing’s professional drivers, to provide real-time readouts for circuit driving.

The six-speaker audio system is boosted by Active Sound Control for quality sound reproduction, hence occupant enjoyment.


Powering the GR86 is a new 2.4-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine producing a maximum of 174 kW and 250 Nm, at least 22 kW and 38 Nm over the 2-litre motor it takes over from. Pairing with the unit are either a six-speed manual or six-speed torque-converter automatic, with the latter

featuring paddle shifters and a range of drive modes to tailor performance to driver preferences.

Straight-line acceleration is also improved, with the GR86 automatic able to sprint from zero to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds.


Standard equipment across the range includes seven airbags, reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, ABS brakes, vehicle stability control, tyre pressure warning and front/rear seatbelt warnings.

Automatic models add more active safety equipment including pre-collision braking with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, parking support brake with rear parking sensors, active cruise control, and lane departure alert. GTS grades further add rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor.


The naturally aspirated boxer engine provides linear throttle response and the ability to rev effortlessly up scale, with technologies including optimised D4-S direct injection helping to provide significantly more torque for better mid-range response.

With pleasant memories of the original 86, frankly, I would have traded in the auto transmission of the test vehicle for the six-speed manual any day. More fun.

Toyota advises premium unleaded fuel and claims a combined urban/highway consumption of 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres. The test car recorded 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres in city traffic and 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway.

Multiple advances have been made under the skin, including revisions to the suspension and steering, with larger-diameter front brakes and chassis reinforcements that significantly improve torsional and lateral rigidity.

A focus on weight reduction and a lower centre of gravity result in sharper agility, handling and responsiveness. A limited-slip Torsen differential on the rear axle is designed to maximise handling.

Those wanting to take their GR86 to the track can also choose from five different vehicle stability control settings ranging from full on to being completely switched off.


The GR(-ed) Toyota 86, from the beginning, presented a few challenges. For a start there was the wallet-stripping price increase, then the need for human contortions to get in and out of the extra-low slung seating and finally, a smooth, if uninspiring, automatic driving experience. However, it’s getting there.


Looks: 8/10

Performance: 7/10

Safety: 7/10

Thirst: 5/10

Practicality: 4/10

Comfort: 5/10

Tech: 7/10

Value: 7/10



Toyota GR86 GT Manual and Automatic: $43,240

Toyota GR86 GTS Manual and Automatic: $45,390

Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.