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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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
Engine: 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
Top speed: 140mph
Price: £24,995 (base car) + kit, price TBC
Thanks to Nick Rice at Club MSV for the track time