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GT86: Toyota flexes its muscles

By Roger St. Pierre

Viewed in profile, Toyota’s sleek GT 86 sports coupé is reminiscent of a 1970’s American muscle car. In the cabin there’s also a retro feel to the purposeful array of dials and switches that bedeck the fascia.

But that’s where the nostalgia gives way to modern technology. This Japanese masterpiece is not only blisteringly quick in a straight line – it also corners like it’s on rails, with no tramp and virtually no body roll.

Admittedly, acceleration times – 7.7 seconds from 0 to 62 mph – are not quite in the supercar league, nor is the 140 mph top speed – but this one handles so reassuringly well that it can easily keep pace with seemingly more powerful sportscars, though the firmness of its suspension settings means occupants will feel every little ripple and bump in the road.

Though decidedly sporting in demeanour, the GT86 can still turn in 36.2 mpg fuel consumption figures in the combined cycle.

Additionally, at £24,905 on the road, the GT86 is priced within the financial reach of mere mortals.

The power comes from a hard revving 2.0i 16-valve four cylinder horizontally opposed boxer-type engine whose mounting gives the car a usefully low centre of gravity while the power-to-weight ratio is also impressive.

A slick, short-throw six-speed gearbox and rear wheel drive will please those who think driving should be fun.

The GT86 claims to be the most compact four-seater coupé currently in production but though the rear seats are not exactly spacious, it can claim to be a true 2+2, unlike some of the competition.

My time with this thoroughly exciting mean machine induced a flood of memories of an epic drive I made many years ago through the wildest hinterland of the Scottish Highlands at the wheel of the Toyota Supra – one of the spiritual forebears of the new car.

As with the my recent stint with the GT86, driving rain and gale force winds made that close on 200-mile Supra dash a formidable challenge but an experience that certainly beat huddling round a fire trying to keep warm.

The GT86 won a host of honours in various motoring awards. It’s unusual for sports coupés to be the toast of the UK business community but this delightfully entertaining yet practical car won the 2013 Fleet World Road Test Editor’s Award among a raft of accolades.

According to Toyota;s PR people, the thinking behind this product was to recapture the essence of the classic sports car experience… well, job done.

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