For a decade now, the car enthusiast community has been calling for Toyota to turbocharge the ’86. Or supercharge it. Or anything, really, to give a fine chassis the performance it really deserves. A lot of the original criticisms of the 2.0-litre GT86 have been answered by the more powerful, torquier, 2.4 GR86 - but the curiosity lingers. What would a Toyota with real hot hatch power be like?
Well, now we have an answer. Sort of. Toyota has reportedly made a GR86 with the brilliant little turbo triple from the GR Yaris, the G16E-GTS that’s such an integral part of that car’s considerable appeal. However, before the two-seat, stripped out, 300hp GRMN rumour mill kicks into action, the ’86 has only been made as another synthetic fuel test car. Toyota hasn’t released any images of the 1.6-litre GR coupe, or issued a press release; instead, the information has come from Gazoo Racing’s chief engineer Naoyuki Sakamoto in an interview with CarSales in Australia. So don’t go banking on a turbocharged GR86 anytime soon.
However, there are reasons to be hopeful. First, of course, is Toyota’s ongoing commitment to carbon-neutral fuels; if a more sustainable method can be found for keeping combustion engines around then we’re all for it. The second cause for optimism is Toyota’s decision to enter a Yaris-engined GR86 into Japanese Super Taikyu racing, confirmed by Sakamoto - there will be something tangible from this dream collab. Super Taikyu is where Toyota has also tested hydrogen-powered Corollas - racing improves the breed, right? The third positive is Sakamoto’s additional comment in the interview. When asked about the production reality of a GR86 with at least 261hp and 266lb (the outputs of the Yaris), he said: "Yes, we are thinking for the future about the possibility of using it, but there are no concrete plans at the moment. For now, we're just using it to develop carbon-neutral fuels." Which is certainly a more positive stance than he could have admitted to.
To an extent, this is all moot, given it’s the front end of the GR86 that falls foul of the pedestrian safety rules and means sales can’t continue here beyond 2024. And it’s hard to see how a more powerful GR86 fits into a Toyota range with a four-cylinder, 255hp Supra as well. But it’s nice to see Toyota continue to lead the resurgence of the Japanese sports car one intriguing engineering development at a time. Not so long ago the notion of both a Yaris GR and Corolla GR seemed far-fetched, and now look - we’ll remain hopeful about the reality of a turbo ’86 until it’s categorically denied. And whatever happens, there’s nothing to stop you building your own, either - cheap GT86s right this way…