Over the previous few years Toyota has established itself as one of the dullest manufacturers in the industry. This once sporting company who built automotive icons such as the Toyota Supra and AE86 Corolla have spent most of the last decade building cars which primary focus has been economy and reliability and marketing them to a much older age demographic then almost any other manufacturer.
At the beginning of 2010 most petrol heads had mostly lost interest in Toyota, the company responded to this rather dramatically with the release of the FT86 concept car which was unveiled at the 2010 Geneva Motorshow. This instantly sent shockwaves through the automotive industry as the theoretical price of this eventual production car was just $30,000. Like most concepts most people presumed the idea of a $30,000 part Subaru part Toyota sports car would never go into production, but in early 2012 Toyota proved those sceptics wrong releasing the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ.
An immediate reaction occurred following the release, with an 18 month waiting list Toyota and Subaru both knew they had filled a large gap in the marketplace most people did not even know was there.
Beyond all the hype, advertising techniques and supposed similarities to the iconic AE86 Corolla and the Toyota 200GT what is the Toyota GT86 really like to live with ? To begin with, practicality is a weak point of the GT86. With a back seat only suitable for very small children, limited head and leg room and few storage spaces you will not find yourself being the preferred driver on any long journeys with anymore than one person.
Although average on paper with a 0-100 time of 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 233km/h, the GT86 really shines when you start to take advantage the GT86’s near perfect weight distribution and precise steering. If you find yourself on a mountain road, with little traffic there will be no other car in this price range that will put as much of a smile on your face. “Jinba ittai” (“Horse and rider in perfect harmony”) is philosophy used by Mazda while creating the MX-5. It refers to man and machine being on complete harmony. This idea is something which is perfected in the Toyota GT86, surely much to Mazda’s disgust.
The GT86 is a car built for the owner, and perhaps this is the most prominent flaw with it. You get the impression from the car that the feel of the steering wheel and gear lever had a team of men to design every stitch, and yet the over complicated touch screen audio system and interior designing have very obvious flaws and a distinct lack of quality to many of the materials.
When you drive the GT86 it becomes very obvious that its very difficult to have more fun for less money, providing this is your main factor when purchasing a new car it will live up to all the hype. The low servicing costs and good reliability reputations of both Subaru and Toyota should result in a cheap to run and own car. If your more concerned with interior quality, practicality or straight line speed, the Mazda MX5, Golf GTI and Subaru WRX are worth a look.