It's a Sunday and we're at Sandown Raceway, which can only mean one thing: we’re here for another CarAdvice weekend warrior track test. And we're excited, because today we get to test the rear-wheel-drive 2015 Toyota 86.
We’ve signed in, we’ve said g’day to the guys from Driver Dynamics, had our drivers’ briefing and been allocated our group. And while there’s plenty of cool metal around, let’s take a closer look at what we brought.
Fans love it for its relative light weight and simplistic nature, while others say it’s never had enough power and its naturally aspirated 2.0-litre ‘Boxer’ engine is crying out for a turbo. Sounds like we need to settle the argument…
Before we do though, I want to show you a couple of very cool motorsport-inspired features of the little 86.
First, the roof is intentionally scalloped to allow for more clearance when wearing a helmet.
Next, the headrests can be taken out and flipped 180 degrees so they support your head but not push it forward when wearing a helmet.
And lastly, with the rear seats folded flat, you can fit four full-size wheels in the back. Seriously handy if you want to run a set of motorsport-spec tyres… Anyway, better get these out before we start.
Whether you’re a fan of the Initial D franchise or the original Toyota AE86, or if you don’t know what either of the last two things are, there’s a lot to like about the Toyota 86.
There’s a relatively lightweight chassis, a low-slung four-cylinder engine up front powering the wheels out the back, but most importantly, you can get in one from $29,990.
Ok, so with 147kW of power and 205Nm of torque and a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds, the 86 isn’t going to win many straight-line battles. But luckily, that’s really not what the car’s about. It’s about getting the best out of the car with what it’s got, not getting distracted by big numbers.
While outright engine performance may not be excellent, throttle response is pretty outstanding and the super sharp and direct steering is simply phenomenal.
The brakes, while progressive, aren’t a highlight and never feel particularly bitey. But the feedback is what this car’s about. Everything is translated to the driver and it makes the 86 an incredibly engaging car to drive.
The Toyota 86 might not be destined to become the same sort of cult car as its namesake, but, apart from being the cheapest rear-wheel-drive sports car you can buy in Australia, for keen drivers willing to challenge themselves, it’s actually also one of the best…