Here's the one we've been waiting for. Though Subaru's latest BRZ was a welcome distraction when it was unveiled in the States, a new 86 is the main event when it comes to the latest Toyobaru pairing. Because it's the one - fingers crossed, at least - that we'll actually be able to buy in the UK. So, without further ado...
The Toyota GR 86 - aligning the sports car with the Gazoo Racing-badged GR Yaris and GR Supra - will please all who bought into the original concept and frustrate those who viewed it as a missed opportunity. Because to be frank, it's a new version of the original GT86's puristic ideals rather than an entire reimagination of the sports car. So, it still isn't very large - 4,265mm long, 1,775mm wide, 1,310mm tall - it still isn't very heavy - 1,270kg is the quoted kerbweight - and a relatively meagre 235hp won't set the world alight. But, as you might have heard, power isn't the 86's raison d'etre...
The 235hp comes from the same 2.4-litre evolution of horizontally opposed four-cylinder as the Subaru uses. Pleasing to note is that the engine's capacity has been achieved through boring out the FA20 rather than stroking it, which should retain the 86's revvy character. With a bore of 94mm (up from 86mm) and a stroke that's remained the same at 86mm, capacity is 2,387cc. Peak power is once more made at 7,000rpm, and maximum torque (here we go again) of 184lb ft is produced from 3,700rpm. With the standard six-speed manual, Toyota claims the GR will dash to 60mph in 6.3 seconds.
As we were saying though, an 86 does not exist to go spectacularly fast in a straight line (even though the performance gain certainly looks worthwhile). Since 2012 it's existed to celebrate the joy of very little mass in a front-engined, rear-drive platform, a mantra the new one appears to be carrying forward. A fairly modest gain of 30kg from last time around has been assisted by new equipment like an aluminium roof and front wings, lighter seats and a less weighty exhaust.
Moreover, Toyota claims that torsional rigidity has improved by 50 per cent - "offering pleasurable handling in all speed ranges", no less. The GR 86 once again employs MacPherson strut front suspension and a double wishbone rear set up, with tyres remaining a fairly modest 215-section at each corner. The wheels are an inch bigger this time around, though, at 18-inches, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres have replaced the Primacys of old. A "distinct driving feel" from the BRZ is promised.
It isn't usual to be this far into a story without talking about a new car's styling or interior. Again, that might be missing the point a tad. However, it's worth noting that the 86 again mirrors the styling of its Subaru counterpart very closely, really only separated by the grille and badges. Interestingly the press material for this car suggests that Toyota and Subaru intend to "deepen their relationship" with the aim of "making even better cars."
Inside the BRZ's updated interior is carried over for the GR 86, with a new seven-inch TFT screen the main highlight. That some details look familiar from before - see the heated seat buttons, the gearlever the wheel and so on - will be further ammo for those who felt the old interior was a tad low rent. Certainly it doesn't look the plushest driving environment, if improved from what preceded it.
Still, what did you expect? Toyota is pretty clear about its intentions for this GR 86: "While engaging in friendly rivalry with the BRZ development team, Toyota Gazoo Racing sought to develop a vehicle that would provide happiness to 86 fans, and realize an evolution of the 86's unique driving sensations." It seems this car is aimed at those who bought into the ethos of the original, rather than those who fancy a sporty switch from their Golf GTI - and you can count us among them. With the GR 86 only just revealed in Japan, no further details are yet known about European availability, although we have it on good authority that the car is coming to the UK later this year. More news when we have it.
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