Remember what a breath of fresh air the Toyota GT86 was back in 2012? An atmospheric rear-wheel drive sports car that prioritised fun above all else was exactly what the doctor ordered, providing a more traditional alternative to the hot hatchbacks it was priced against. Sure it was slower than most of them and we already had the MX-5, but the GT86 was bred as a pureblood sports car from day one.
That its use of Michelin Primacy tyres, which were also the boot of choice for the Prius, came as a bragging point emphasised just how driver focussed the GT86 was. While hot hatch manufacturers were stiffening suspension and using ever grippier tyres in pursuit of faster lap times, Toyota opted for a harder wearing and ultimately less adhesive tyre, preferring to prioritise balance and cohesion than outright cornering speed.
What a successful job it did as well, because the GT86, while never particularly quick with 200hp from its 2.0-litre flat-four, loves to rev and the chassis’s poise along a B-road is so wonderfully exploitable that its comparable lack of grunt only occurs to you when you’re going away from a traffic light. Find the right road – like something technical with a quick succession of corners (or somewhere with wide, empty roundabouts) and the GT86 is motorised perfection.
Elsewhere, such low mechanical grip would be a bad thing, but the GT86’s inherent balance manages the job of bringing all the adjustability of a higher-ranking sports car down to legal speeds. At 1.2 tonnes it isn’t as light as you might expect, especially given the simplicity of the setup, but the weight distribution is close enough to 50/50 and the steering, brakes and tight six-speed manual very pleasing to operate, making for as authentic a sports car experience as any.
The GT86 is easy to live with, too, providing relatively low running costs thanks to affordable consumables and with a 2+2 cabin, you could take the kids along as well. Compare it to a hot hatch for too long and you’ll certainly notice the shortfall in spaciousness and straight-line speed - but these are easily forgivable sacrifices when you consider what you get in return. This is a car bought by people who love driving above all else.
So let’s rejoice then (for once) that those of us in that exclusive club number quite a low proportion of the populace. Because it means that the GT86 has not turned into a particularly highly sought after car in the second hand market - hence its decent through half price into £10k territory. Excluding modified and accident damaged cars, the lowest-priced GT86 on the classifieds is up for £10,480 – and it looks to be in great nick. A 2013 car with 61,172 miles on the clock, both the exterior and interior look healthy, meaning there’s little to suggest this won’t provide fun for years to come. Then again, those not bothered about the badge might want to consider this 16,000-mile-old Subaru BRZ on sale for just a grand more. It might not be possible to have more fun - good, clean, reliable, well-made fun - for less.
SPECIFICATION - TOYOTA GT86
Engine: 1,998cc, flat-four
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 200@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 151@6,400-6,600rpm
MPG: 36.2 (NEDC combined)
First registered: 2013
Recorded mileage: 61,172
Price new: £24,995
Yours for: £10,480
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