Such a mixed bag of emotions come with owning a Toyota 86, well for me at least. I gave up a very capable and happiness inducing Mk6 VW Golf GTI to pursue the Japanese sports car.
Buying the 86 was a frustrating experience, the dealership (South Melbourne Toyota) was horrible to deal with but I wanted this car and I was determined to have it in my driveway. I wanted to be part of the hype. I wanted to be part of this particular group of car enthusiasts who could appreciate a cheap, lightweight and well-balanced sports car.
It was the very moment I drove the 86 out of the dealership that I knew I had made a huge mistake. Almost immediately the romance of the test drive dissipated as I noticed the very tacky, cheap interior. You see, I bought the top of the line “GTS” model and I expected a little more. Still, could be worse. After all I am now driving one of the most anticipated cars of this decade. I punched the throttle expecting a whoosh of excitement only to be let down by the woeful torque-band and a horrible noise piped into the cabin from the intake.
My biggest mistake was driving this car daily. I was anxious to get into the car on my way to work and I was in a horrible mood when I got to work. I hated it. Living with this car as a daily driver was painfully and uncompromisingly terrible.
I was so fed up, I had to purchase another car. I bought the new Renault Clio RS200 as my daily driver and abandoned the 86 project. One sunny Melbourne weekend I decided to take the 86 out for a spin. I somehow ended up through the twists and turns near Marysville. This is where everything I had learned about the 86 was turned upside down. I didn't care that I had no power. Every corner induced a massive grin on my face as the tail end of the car niggled and became unsettled. Even with the driver aids on, she let me push and play like no other car I've driven. All of a sudden I was alive, the car was alive and any previous impressions I had of the 86 had been wiped clean with the 86s incredible ability to dance. She moved and swayed her hips like a beautiful latino woman dancing Salsa. The way she responded to my every request with such composure was confidence inspiring.
I drove home that day with a new found respect for this little sports car. Now I didn't want to let her out of my sight. I spent the weeks wishing my life away until the weekend when I could take the 86 out for a dance.
All fun and games aside, spirited driving had shown a few weaknesses. You see, all of the revving meant that this girl was thirsty. Most tanks of I received a poor 350kms. Over christmas we drove from Melbourne to Brisbane and were barely able to get more than 500kms from a tank on the highway using cruise control. Toyota have blamed my spirited weekend driving (I don't disagree, ha!) and have advised me that the highway kilometres were within normal specification. Sure.
When the 86 is cold, the gearbox is transformed into an errant child, stubborn to let you change gears. Particularly changing from first to second is noticeably notchy. A lot of what I've read online this is typical of the 86 and can simply be resolved with a change of gearbox oil. I have yet to do this but I'm curious to see the results.
Servicing otherwise has been a treat. Very affordable capped price servicing, no hidden costs (I'm pointing at you Volkwagen) and traditional Japanese reliability make this package incredibly appealing. Toyota has developed a little gem here, I'm finding car clubs and cruises popping up Australia wide where 86 owners have been sharing their enthusiasm and passion for the car.
From my experience, I have to say the Toyota 86 the best weekend warrior since the introduction of the MX-5 in the late 80's. Well done Toyota.