Friday 10th February 2012

Ringside Seat: is the 'ring relevant?

Our man at the 'ring fights the corner for Nordschleife laps and an overlooked GT 86 alternative

I enjoyed the image of Chris Harris asking Toyota GT 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada what it'd do round the 'ring and getting the 'don't know, don't care' response.

Less about numbers, more about this
Less about numbers, more about this
Like everyone, I'd made special time to take in his brilliant GT 86 story and video. But to hear the Nurburgring shrugged off burned me up a little bit. If a lap time was totally irrelevant to the GT 86 why would Toyota have been entering the car in the VLN races last year? Why did it test the prototype here for two years?

Twice last year I was nearly run clean off the road by suicidal 'scoop' photographers hanging from the passenger windows of cheap rentals taking to the pavements to try and catch a better shot of the GT 86 mule running between the track and workshop.

No, the Nurburgring is relevant and what's more it's a deciding ingredient in most modern performance cars.

RX-8 ticks many of the GT 86's boxes too
RX-8 ticks many of the GT 86's boxes too
What is less relevant is a Nurburgring lap time. But not releasing a lap time at all is less about making a stand and more about not wanting to sell the GT 86 short to the fools who will only look at a car's lap time before buying. But do such fools even exist?

Let's face facts, a Clio Cup is going to kick the Toyota's arse all the way around the Nordschleife. And the FWD platform will also make it quicker point-to-point on public roads for 90 per cent of the driving population too. But is that going to factor into our buying decision? Probably not.

What Toyota has been quick to point out is that the GT 86 is less about the absolute limits and more about the feel when it's there. (Hurrah! - Ed)

Mazda picked up RWD baton after AE 86
Mazda picked up RWD baton after AE 86
Let me put my cards on the table. I am partial. No, I am partisan. I only sold my trackday Mazda MX-5 after eight years to buy a Mazda RX-8 instead.

Isn't this low-limits, steering-from-the-rear exactly what Mazda has been doing with the MX-5 since 1989? That's about the same time Toyota abandoned its awesome AE86 Corolla, by the way.

Don't even get me started on the RX-8 either. The last RX-8 of 2010 vintage was only a few kilos heavier, had more outright power, a much higher spec while costing less than the new base-model GT 86. Plus you can fit four adults in an RX-8 easily.

The car our man says GT 86 has to beat!
The car our man says GT 86 has to beat!
So, what will the GT 86 do around the Nurburgring? There's only one thing I want to know, and I apologise in advance for the narrow-mindedness I'm about to display: is it faster than my RX-8?



Author: Dale Lomas

Get it off your chest...

69 comments on this story

Last comment was by Fastdruid
on 15th February 2012