Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Toyota GR86 comes with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 231bhp that’s good for 0-62mph in 6.3sec. As with the Mazda MX-5 RF there’s no turbocharging involved to bolster engine performance, meaning it needs working hard to get the best out of it.
The GR86's engine isn’t that quick to rev but it’s rewarding enough when doing so, pulling strongly from the middle of the rev range up to the red line. That's accompanied by a suitably loud and pleasant engine sound piped through the speakers for additional theatre.
If you go for the six-speed automatic gearbox instead, the GR86's performance takes a small hit – the 0-62mph spring takes 0.6sec longer, for example. You do get paddles on the steering wheel, so you can override it by tapping up or down a gear, but we'd still stick with the manual.
The GR86 has a firmer ride than the MX-5 RF but rounds off bumps well enough around town. The ride starts to deteriorate at higher speeds, and can become a little choppy. And while the engine does quieten down into the background, there’s plenty of road and wind noise when cruising at motorway speeds.
All that makes the GR86 quite a noisy companion, although it’s quieter than sitting inside the MX-5 RF in similar situations. If you plan to do lots of longer journeys, you'll be better off in the Audi TT or 2 Series Coupé.
One appealing solution to that is – where possible – to take the twisty country road running parallel to the motorway to make the most of the GR86’s handling.
The sharp response of the accelerator pedal helps to maintain momentum, while the steering has enough weight to feel precise. Body lean is minimal and the GR86 feels light as it goes from corner to corner, with a reassuring amount of grip from the tyres.
It's quite easy to reach the limits, but the predictable responses let you have fun while staying in control. In comparison, driving enthusiasts might find that the Audi TT feels too safe to be truly thrilling, while the MX-5 RF suffers from much more body lean. The GR86 is easily the most exciting of the three.