Driven: Toyota GT86 JRM Racing/Sumo Power

Are tuned cars a PH-worthy topic? Editor Dan is rightly wary of submissions relating to cars he describes as "a bit yo" and best left to Fast Maxline magazine or whatever they're called these days. But every once in a while, something a bit interesting crops up - and this JRMRacing and Sumo Power collaboration Toyota GT86 caught our attention.

A few tweaks later the 86 is a serious tool
A few tweaks later the 86 is a serious tool
Unless you're in a coma, you must have noticed Toyota's GT86 and Subaru's BRZ are already achieving a degree of cult status. They look great, are fully focused on delivering driving delight, with a fabulous low centre of gravity, wonderful weight distribution, quirky Boxer engine, agile and alive chassis, superb steering and right-wheel drive. Both are stars in our eyes and as you'll have seen lately the official line is that more is on the way for both.

Evidence of the promise of the base package can already be found both in the world of motorsport and aftermarket tuning realm, where there's a plethora of performance parts being rapidly created for the GT86 and BRZ - superchargers, turbochargers, body kits, suspension upgrades, the lot. It's all gone mental oriental on that front.

JRM took an early pre-prod car from Japan
JRM took an early pre-prod car from Japan
Road and track
Normally, we'd turn a blind eye and let the aftermarket get on with it, but when a pure-bred motorsport company like JRM Racing (responsible for GT1 and GT3 R35 GT-R, LMP1 and Group N rally winners and more) makes the effort to start developing a tuning package for the GT86 (and BRZ), in conjunction with sister 'street' brand, Sumo Power, we had to have a look.

What we have here is a pre-production GT86 from Japan - bought as early as possible by JRM and Sumo, so they could start the process of research and development - with the aim of producing a £3,000-4,000 kit, aimed at the track day and street market. "We wanted to create a sub-£30,000 car that looks great, handles and stops superbly, is a lot of fun on track and the road and is totally accessible. It's sort of half a GT4 car and half an aftermarket car," says JRM Sales Manager, Mark Dexter.

Full strip and cage is a serious statement
Full strip and cage is a serious statement
Despite looking fine and finished, this GT86 is definitely still a work in progress. JRM Racing and Sumo Power have been busy working together at their Daventry HQ, testing out various components to develop a perfect GT86/BRZ kit. Additionally, to showcase their sub-assembly talents (the chap who built it, Lee McCormick, is ex-Prodrive) and give it some GT4-style flavour - they've stripped over 50kg of weight out of the mule, installed a race-spec roll cage, plexiglass windows, carbon doors, flocked dash, AP Racing air jacks, Sparco race steering wheel, Sparco carbon Kevlar race seat and harnesses, custom gear lever and various safety and electrical modifications. This is all spot-on, as you can see.

All the gear
They've also worked with various top-line brake and suspension firms to offer a specification turning the stock GT86 into a bit of a tool. The car now has AP Racing 286mm front discs, with six-pot front calipers and a four-pot set-up at the rear, with braided lines throughout, for added bite. And the suspension is a bespoke coilover kit from KW Suspension, just for JRM Racing customers. And a set of nice and lightweight Team Dynamics 18-inch rims and Toyo R888 tyres finish off the chassis set-up nicely.

Proven kit builds on the solid foundations
Proven kit builds on the solid foundations
JRM Racing and Sumo have also added a few bits under the bonnet for added throttle response and longevity, including an HKS panel air filter, HKS hard air intake pipe, HKS down pipe and Damd rear silencer exhaust system and deleted the air-con. Meanwhile, for now, the transmission and engine power are standard, but JRM and Sumo will be working with customers on a bespoke basis to develop more power and custom gearboxes and differentials, as required - whether for road, track, or even drift car set-ups.

At a damp and dark Snetterton, the jet black GT86 certainly attracts a lot of attention. And whilst the looks of the Damd bodykit are not to everyone's taste, putting aesthetics aside and looking at dynamics alone, opinion is positive.

Chassis and brakes sorted, now for power
Chassis and brakes sorted, now for power
Final shakedown
"Today's an opportunity for us to have a first run out with the car on track, evaluate and consider our final product mix for the kit, which we hope to finalise and have on sale in the new year," says Mark.

To assist in the R&D, racer Phil Glew takes the GT86 out for a few laps, and is soon passing 'faster' cars around the outside of Coram. It looks fast, flat and fun. He's out for longer than he said and only comes in when the fuel light comes on, which has got to be a good sign, and says "for a first time out, this is an impressive bit of kit. It just needs a few bits and pieces doing and it's there. There's a bit of initial push-on understeer, but you have to dial that out of all cars, it's got great balance and it feels very stiff and well sorted. It needs a bit more power, but I say that about pretty much every car I get out of on track."

Engine mods are minimal for the moment
Engine mods are minimal for the moment
High praise indeed and we can't disagree. The stopping power is immense and fade-free on track, the suspension is flat and accurate - aided by the extra grip generated by the wheel and tyre package - and the lower inertia and race car strip, cage and goody-package only add to the GT86's appeal on circuit.

Just leave the bodykit off and here's a cracking GT86 track day hero for fast, fun, reliable, consistent lapping. And, if you don't go as hardcore with the strip and scaffolding route and just fit the JRM Racing/Sumo Power suspension and brakes kit, you've still got a cracking road coupe too... Win, win.

JRM Racing/Sumo Power Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ
1,998cc flat-four, direct injection
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 200@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 151@6,400-6,600rpm
0-62mph: 7.7
Top speed: 140mph
Weight: 1,238kg
MPG: 36.2
CO2: 181g/km
Price: £24,995 (base car) + kit, price TBC

Thanks to Nick Rice at Club MSV for the track time


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Comments (81) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Zed Ed 02 Dec 2012

    Excellent news

  • StormLoaded 01 Dec 2012

    i saw on FB Litchfield are taking pre-orders now for their supercharger kit.
    Looks to boost power and torque rather nicely! smile

  • Pistonwot 01 Dec 2012

    Hellbound said:
    Oddball RS said:
    OllieC said:
    ScoobieWRX said:
    Hellbound said:
    Going by a lot of the comments in this thread, I'm going to assume these various bolt on kits available also come with a 5 year warranty too.

    Like I said earlier, the latest news suggests that Toyota and Subaru are going to abandon any plans of offering forced induction and instead will look at add another 20+bhp through other means.

    If that's not good enough, you may as well go ahead and turn your new GT86 into something ridiculous like this;

    That looks awesome!! Totally love it!!

    Things that make you go Mmmmmm!! yes
    +1 looks great, much better!

    yes, love this biggrin
    Just to clarify, while that car is stunning, I'd feel like a complete idiot if it was parked outside my house and if I used it as a daily driver. It would be completely out of context on my street.

    Taking it to the track for a laugh, yes.
    Why not move to a better area?

    I really cant imagine just how grim it would be to have car purchases determined by my surroundings and what the "Jones's" think of it.
    I feel sorry for those encumbered with this bizarre image OCD.

    It would appear the writer of this article is an image before substance bore as well.
    As soon as a manufacturers tuning kit is made available (half as good as a pro-tuner offering) theyre all over it like a fat kid on a cake.

    Leave them too it I say.
    It simply highlights these folk dont really know all that much about what theyre talking/writing about.
    It seems this fear of tuning is mainly due to their having such a poor understanding of the mechanical aspects of tuning and tuner upgrades. Combine this with being too lazy to do any work to find out what is going on this type finds it easier/lazier to let the manufacturer do it so they simply have to do nothing. Except parrot the figure handed to them down the pub to anyone who will listen.
    Saddest part is when they try to berate the people who do know better.

    Edited by Pistonwot on Saturday 1st December 12:35

  • DanielSan 28 Nov 2012

    EDLT said:
    I stopped reading there, that and the crap at the start about tuned cars not being "PH-worthy" is just pathetic.
    Only just seen this article but agree with this point entirely. Given the number of tuned cars on this forum that is a bit of an uneducated/ignorant/snobbish view to take.

  • SmartVenom 28 Nov 2012

    RemarkLima said:
    Now, let me say it... It needs more power! tongue out

    Well, with AP's, Toyo R888's, uber suspension etc. it does 100% need more power, otherwise you'll have more grip than you could ever use.

    So yeah, needs more power tongue out
    Agree completely, I thought the whole point of this car was that you could slide it around easily because it wasn't running hugely wide, grippy tyres. If you stick R888s and sort the suspension you've immediately added a lot of grip and thus killed what this car was meant to be about. If you have in the process created a great handling track car then it needs more power, especially at the price it's going to come in at. In fact you need more power for the road as well, so that the fun element (over coming grip) can be added back. All getting a bit circular (and expensive) now!

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