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Toyota GT86

Click to view picture gallery“Toyota has a fine range of bread-
  and-butter cars fit for purpose
but being all things to all people in
  all markets can make these cars
  functional rather than desirable.
  But now at last we have some jam to
  go with the bread-and-butter
a fit
  replacement for Toyota
s past sports
  models, the MR2, Celica and Supra
the new GT86

TOYOTA'S DESIGNERS HAVE FOR SOME TIME been trying to get Board approval to inject sportier niche models into a world market line-up where mass produced, affordable and fuel efficient cars dominate sales.

And they've finally succeeded. Drive forward the Toyota GT86 2+2 two-door coupe priced from a relatively affordable 24,995 for the six-speed manual and 26,495 for the six-speed auto.

Although more or less fully equipped as standard, the GT86 is available with a number of extra-cost options such as Touch & Go SatNav and Bluetooth (750), leather and Alcantara-trimmed sports seats (1,600), bonnet and side stripe decals (180), and metallic or pearlescent paint finishes (from 450).

“Top speed is 140mph
with zero to 62mph
taking 7.7 seconds.
In the Combined Cycle,
the fuel consumption
is 36.2mpg
but on my test drive
it returned an amazingly
good 40.1mpg
The 'GT' application in the name is obvious: it's a Grand Tourer two-door 2+2 sports body style. A little research and the use of '86' also becomes clear: it refers to the engine's 86mm bore and stroke dimensions. And, a novelty item of news: it's also the diameter of each of the impressively visual exhaust tailpipes.

The GT86 went on sale from 1 July and just 2,000 units will be available this year in the UK; 5,000 are expected for 2013. The new model, because of its size, style and price, will be non-gender specific in terms of customers.

It is neither too girlie nor too macho and it will have no age-of-ownership bias either. Plus the automatic transmission option means that older or physically less-able drivers are also catered for — and around one third of UK customers are expected to choose this option.

The thinking behind the GT86 was to create a compact, lightweight, steel bodied, front engine, rear-wheel drive 2+2 coupe; and to recapture the purity of a classic sports car. Other design criteria were a low centre of gravity, a free-revving non-turboed petrol engine and ordinary size wheels and tyres — intriguingly, the GT86's wheels and tyres are the same 17-inch 215/45R combination as used for the Toyota Prius.

The GT86 has an all-new platform giving it an overall length of 4,240mm. The car was designed jointly by Toyota and Subaru: Toyota, it would appear, did much of the styling work and has the expertise in engine electronics with its DS-4 direct injection and for the engine mapping and performance; Subaru build the coupe for both brands and supply the engine and drivetrain.

The engine is a lightweight, flat-four, high-revving 'boxer' 2.0-litre, 16-valve DOHC unit but normally aspirated (no turbocharger). Its maximum power output of 197bhp is produced at 7,000rpm; its 151lb ft of torque is developed in a very narrow and high powerband ranging from 6,400 to 6,600rpm.

Top speed is 140mph with zero to 62mph taking 7.7 seconds. In the Combined Cycle, the fuel consumption is 36.2mpg but on my test drive (covering motorways, traffic congestion inside the M25 and local trips) it returned an amazingly good 40.1mpg.

“The thinking behind the
GT86 was to create
a compact, lightweight,
steel bodied, front
engine, rear-wheel drive
2+2 coupe;
and to recapture the
purity of a ‘classic’
sports car
That was just one of the many things the GT86 impressed me with. Stunning looks, perfect proportions, a high level of specification, plenty of front seat space, a compliant and comfortable ride and performance to match the looks are all reasons to own one.

Add to that agility with a good front-to-rear balance for predictable and safe handling, with sharp and accurate steering responses, and for this money the GT86 is the perfect sports car.

Thankfully the design engineers managed to keep the marketing people at bay and fitted the GT86 with sensibly-sized wheels and tyres so ride comfort rules.

The interior shows off a good mixture of finishes, some offering better touch quality than others, slightly retro in style — but then all that helps the 'classic' sports car ownership appeal.

Standard equipment includes power windows and door mirrors, AirCon, cruise, six-speaker audio system and a full set of airbags. The GT86 does have two rear seats but little or no legroom and the rear-quarter windows are very small which restricts visibility.

This 2.0-litre engine loves to be revved and you'll find its 'happy zone' at the top of the rev range. It wouldn't stop me buying one but a little more torque available at lower engine speeds would be an improvement. The coupe is quite happy to burble along in top gear at 50mph but to overtake slower traffic in short-order does mean a trip down the gears to get back into the powerband for more rapid acceleration — a shame then the gearchange is on the notchy side.

Why you would want one: A return by Toyota to their heyday of producing interesting and affordable sports cars, sharp handling, comfortable, thoroughly enjoyable, great kerb appeal.

Why you might think about it: Needs a bit more torque available in a wider/lower powerband, notchy gearchange.

Keeping the technology simple and not going overboard with masses of electronics to mask the GT86's undoubted performance and fun-handling driving characteristics is a brave move, and one to be applauded. Simple is best — and in this case affordable to boot — so congratulations Toyota and Subaru and it's good to see a return to producing a model that is really inspirational. And, best of all, desirable. —
David Miles

Toyota GT86 | 24,995
Maximum speed: 140mph | 0-62mph: 7.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 40.1mpg
Power: 197bhp | Torque: 151lb ft | CO2 181g/km