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The Toyota GR86 keeps a dying niche of cars alive.

Aktualisiert: 3. Juli

Buying an affordable sportscar became almost impossible these days. As most of the reasonably priced sportscars haven’t been continued in production or became pretty expensive, finding a new “cheap” sporty Coupé has become a difficult task. Reasonably priced sports coupes have almost disappeared completely from the market. And that’s why I’m glad that Toyota has, again, partnered up with Subaru to create a fun car for enthusiasts with a limited budget. The new Toyota GR86 (or Subaru BRZ) is the successor to the Toyota GT86. Don’t roll your eyes, Toyota has done this right. This little boy is a car you should give a chance by reading this review!

What is it all about?

The entry level sports coupe has become a prettier, torquier, more powerful and keener handling car than its predecessor, the GT86. Size, weight and user experience stay the same. The concept is clear to build and offer a modern classic. Unfiltered.

When the GR86 debuted in 2022, it counted as one of the very best cars to hit the market. It’s the antidote to all these highly overpowered, heavy and complicate so-called sports and supercars. It’s like a sanitized, weatherproof Caterham: Able to deliver many giggles at an affordable price tag but improved in various key areas over the GT86. The GR86 goes with the flow. But in an unconventional way. The purist’s choice. “Save the manual” was one of Toyota’s headlines at the GR86 Press Launch back in 2022. Thank God, someone still thinks of us enthusiasts! This truly warms my heart.

First impressions:

The GR86 feels like it has grown up in its design language and overall appearance. Contemporarily, a common step with most of the current car designs. But compared to other manufacturers, Toyota managed to keep the car’s size almost identical instead of letting it grow from its predecessor. The spot-on proportions are very attracting to my own taste. The optics itself could have been shaped a bit sleeker and more confident for a sports car. What do you think? And as originally predicted, there’re already loads of tuning parts for it.

Additionally, Toyota offers a bunch of legal in-house tuning parts for the GR86. I mean, how cool is that?! It’s a true enthusiast car for a reasonable budget paging a young buyer.

The car shown is a GR 86 Sport+, to be recognized by the satin black 18-inch wheels, starting at a base price of CHF 41’400 with the manual 6-speed transmission. The automatic transmission costs an additional CHF 2’500. Beside the “Crystal White” metallic paintjob that set you back CHF 1’250, there aren’t any other further options. The car comes with several features like cruise control, heated seats, two-zone automatic air-condition, Apple-CarPlay and Android-Auto via cable connection. Reduced to the gadgets you want, nothing unnecessary added to the list. Perfect.

Let’s have a seat.

Realistically, the GR86 is more likely a two-seater instead of a four-seater. At least it is more comfortable to sit in the back row like in a Lexus LC500, Polestar 1 or new Porsche 911. On the other hand, compared to the lot more expensive mentioned cars, the GR86 has a foldable back rest in the rear, which makes it undeniably more practical due to a better flexibility in its interior.

Although the interior isn't the main focus during driving, it is a great place to be in. Very puristic, functional, intuitive. Just like any petrolhead wants it to have. There aren't many electric gadgets beside the air conditioning and the touchscreen for the infotainment system. Which is great. It would only distract you from driving. Because that's the main thing you actually want to do with your new GR86! Having the car's price in mind, the overall quality is great. Of course, there's plastic here and there. Notable is the sagging looking dashboard which looks rather cheap. But this can easily be overlooked. Because it would only increase the GR86’s price.

Let’s hit the road!

The GR86 is a refreshingly uncomplicated car: Six-speed manual gearbox, a conventional handbrake, real buttons and rotary controls. There’s no Sport mode for throttle response or Individual setting to harness all your favorite parameters in menus you couldn’t even find in the deepness of a multimedia system. Instead: Get in, start up the engine and head out for an early Sunday morning countryside spin. As simple as that. Very puristic, exactly what I was hoping to experience!

The seats have great lateral support while cornering, the short shifting is crisp and a short clutch pedal travel, which you have to get used to. In my opinion, the Toyota could easily do with a lighter flywheel. The engine feels a little sluggish when revving down. The gear changes are usually faster than the engine decelerate its revs. For inexperienced drivers, this can often cause unpleasant jerking.

As a one-setting passive damping set-up, driven on multiple variations across some of Switzerland’s winding back roads, it’s a well-judged compromise. Very abrupt over speed bumps and level crossings, but tolerable everywhere else. It’s not just the numbers that Toyota claimed to have worked on, you can absolutely feel the great balance of the car and the passionate work the engineers have put into the new GR model. The handling is great. Due to the rather stiff suspension, you feel relatively connected to the road. I bet that with some finetuning such as lowering the car and put on a bit wider and meaty wheel setup with proper sport tires or slicks, the new GR86 might be able to keep up with a Lotus Elise! There’s quite some potential left. Additionally, more and more tuning parts flood the market for your own beloved individuality.

On the other hand, it’s a bit of a shame that cars must be that quiet nowadays. I’d love to hear the engine sound a bit more, to get a feeling of what’s going on under the hood. Just to have a deeper connection and a more memorable experience. The engine roar just starts to get heard above 2’500rpm.

The power output just hits the sweet spot to have fun on twisty roads. The rear end playful in low gears at quick cornering. It gives the little coupe some great characteristics.

Speaking of the new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder-boxer engine; it is the most important change compared to the GR86’s predecessor, the GT86, is the maximum delivering torque of 250Nm at 3700rpm instead of 205Nm at 6700rpm, promising an entirely different order of in-gear flexibility and general drivability. It makes you forget the frustratingly slow GT86 immediately. Although I wish to have slightly more power on motorways, the GR86 is still a very enjoyable and fun ride on twisty roads for a very reasonable price compared to other sports cars. The intention to leave all the high-tech gimmicks apart makes light and fun cars being alive. The sad story about it is the reality that most of the buyers left the purists for overpriced cars which can be leased or financed anyway.

So, hats off to Toyota for believing in us purists, delivering cars of a dying breed we still dream of owning one day.

What should I buy?

Pretty simple. A new GR86 with the manual six-speed transmission. It is a sportscar to provide pure joy with enough power to wear the “sportscar” badge. Or at least: Just to have fun with. I tiny bit more power would definitely suit the car’s characteristics. But sometimes, less is more. Luckily, this base idea and overall concept works flawlessly and spices up the car market. Go and get one of them before the pure and driver focused cars completely disappear! This is a car, which is worth every single buck!


To end this review, I wanted to thank Toyota Switzerland for lending me their GR86 to properly test drive for 1 ½ weeks. I’d have wished to keep the car instead of returning it.

Review & photos by: RPM | Robin P. M.

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