Sometimes all you need in life is just to go for a drive, to clear your head and forget about everything except what is ahead of you on the open road, the twistier the better. Each curve, gear change and switchback is taking you into pure driving bliss where nothing else matters.Recently I received the keys to a white Japanese sportscar which I had the gift of driving for a week. This car in question was the new face-lifted Toyota 86 GT Edition, which I was actually quite looking forward to putting kilometres past me. Since the Toyota 86 had been released a handful of years ago, I had only driven an 86 twice on the track and never on the road. I was genuinely looking forward to getting the car on the road to soak in the full 86 experience.Thinking about it’s main competitor in its class, it would be very much on par with the Mazda MX5 for it’s price. Both carry the lightweight front engine RWD platform, which proper car enthusiasts have loved for a long time. Personally the lightweight RWD hasn’t had much popularity since the Datsun 1600’s/ Ford Escort’s/ Toyota Celica’s during the 60’s/70’s.
The Toyota 86 may not be everybody’s cup of tea as it’s a momentum car, with the majority of people asking Toyota to give it more power with an induction system, either Turbo Or Supercharged which has been popular with the enthusiast market.
However Toyota is keeping to it’s plan of a low powered great handling sportscar, which is a throwback to the original philosophy of the Toyota AE86 back in the late 80’s. Even with this new model it has been tweaking in all areas handling, interior and exterior away back in Japan, to make this new model better than the last, “Evolution over Revolution”.
The Toyota 86 GT’s handling is its strong point with how well the chassis is set up I was surprised how well it could take any corner & curves in it’s way, even with the standard GT specification tyres which are smaller and narrower than the GTS model. If I owned one, I don’t think I’d look into changing to wider grippier tyres until I had added more power, as I really suspect that it will take away from the driving experience that Toyota had intended for the car. You really need to feel the car moving around, and with the newer wider tyres that most put on the car nowadays it could lose that fun appeal and make it feel like any other car out on the road.
Leaving Sydney heading down the south coast of NSW which has some great driving roads, be it your arm on the window sill cruise roads heading down past Jervis Bay to Batemans Bay, to your fun twisty roads like Royal National Park and Kangaroo Valley the 86 just ate up the kilometres. The thing with low powered cars is you don’t need hundreds of kilowatts to have fun.
Most of the time driving a car intended for these twisty roads will give you a bigger grin than Daniel Ricciardo. It’s about that feel through the seat of your pants, where it’s car and road just connect and gives you such a great feedback through the steering wheel.
Overall I do like the updated 2017 Toyota 86, it was able to take me nearly 1200km over the week, and even with the back seats down it and playing some tetris it was easily able to fit my gear for a few days in the back. With 3 versions available GT Manual, GTS Auto & GTS Manual, Lets say I wouldn’t mind giving the GTS a go on the same roads or even on the track.