Aside from the new name, the GR 86 copies the recipe for Toyota’s earlier 86, a rear-wheel drive 2 + 2 coupe – meaning it is again mechanically identical to the Subaru BRZ. That both affordable sports cars saw a second generation and continued to struggle with Mazda’s MX-5 Miata and somewhat tangentially with the soon-to-be-replaced Nissan 370Z is a pleasant surprise. It shows the worth of two automakers (in this case Toyota and Subaru) working together on low volume but incredibly fun cars, sharing the development costs, and making the project a pencil financially. This is why the GR Supra exists, which was jointly developed with BMW (the project also spawned the latest Z4 roadster).
Enough employee appraisals – is the GR 86 getting more powerful?
If you’re familiar with the latest details on the Subaru BRZ, you already know what’s going on among the GR 86’s new duds. The 2.0L quadruple engine on the last generation model has been increased to 2.4L (just like the new BRZ), and while Toyota isn’t talking about power and torque just yet, we can make an educated guess: both outputs will grow . Expect peak power and torque to reflect the new BRZ’s 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft – gains of 23 horses and 28 lb-ft of twist, respectively.
Both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are offered. You know which one we’d recommend – hint, it’s the one with a third pedal – even though automatic transmission models include Subaru’s camera-based EyeSight suite with active safety features. According to Toyota, the larger engine (and its as-yet-unspecified power) responds faster, accelerating the car’s estimated speed from 7.4 seconds to 6.3. That’s the jump.
Still light, still a sports car
Since the GR 86 continues to use a quadruple engine that places the cylinders flat rather than vertically, as is the case with the much more common inline four format, its bonnet remains very low. In terms of dimensions, the new Toyota is almost as big as the old 86; The claimed 2,800-pound curb weight is also just right for you. A 2017 Toyota 86 860 Edition we tested weighed 2,785 pounds. The new GR 86 retains the proportions of the previous engine and rear-wheel drive from the previous model, with a long bonnet, narrow greenhouse and blunt rear deck. Only minor changes have been made to the front end of the 86 compared to its BRZ sibling.
In order to bring the center of gravity of the sports car closer to the road, the roof and fender panels of the GR 86 are now made of aluminum, and unspecified revisions to the seats and silencers also help. Overall, the torsional stiffness has increased by “approximately” 50 percent, a potential boon for the handling and comfort of the rear-wheel drive car. A solid base for mounting the suspension allows engineers to optimize responsiveness and shock absorption with fewer compromises. Remember, great performance was never the game of the ’86 – sweet handling and a wonderfully balanced chassis were, and we expect more of the same from the new car, especially after a recent drive in the new Subaru BRZ.
As for the more boring parts, you know, the things that don’t have much to do with cutting off exes, drifting, or perfect heel-to-toe downshifts. The GR 86 has a redesigned interior that is much nicer than before. The instrument cluster has a 7.0-inch TFT display and a horizontal dashboard. The former even has a start-up sequence that shows the horizontally opposite cylinders of the engine.
Toyota isn’t talking about price just yet, but we expect the GR 86 to start near the $ 30,000 mark again when it finally hits dealerships later this year. Look for other US specific details that are also closer to this sale date.