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

  • Mitch2.0 23 Nov 2012

    Is it just me, or do the front discs look bigger than 286mm... if that's an 18" alloy they look more like 330mm to me.

  • Rawwr 23 Nov 2012

    I can't wait for the first person to post it.

  • hornetrider 23 Nov 2012

    Rawwr said:
    I can't wait for the first person to post it.
    Article said:
    Meanwhile, for now, the transmission and engine power are standard


  • Darkslider 23 Nov 2012

    Mitch2.0 said:
    Is it just me, or do the front discs look bigger than 286mm... if that's an 18" alloy they look more like 330mm to me.
    +1, I had 286mm Brembos on my Saxo VTS, and they fitted under 15 inch alloys! They'd look dwarfed under those rims.

  • Mastodon2 23 Nov 2012

    Did a PH article just refer to a car as "right wheel drive"? This is a new low for PH journalism.

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