What's the used Toyota GT86 coupe like?
Sports cars are nice in principle, but buying them can be hard to justify. There’s the fear that they’ll cost too much to run, be difficult to drive in day-to-day traffic and have a stiff, uncouth ride. Fortunately, Toyota has a history of making fun, inexpensive performance cars, so when they teamed up with Subaru to produce a new car, the result is a great modern take on the classic sports car.
The first box to tick is the engine. The Toyota GT86 uses exactly the same 197bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine as the Subaru BRZ. A lot of hot hatches have more power than that, but the aim with the GT86 is to give you just enough power because you can exploit its performance potential more of the time. And you will need to rev the engine hard to get any meaningful acceleration since it doesn’t have the low-down torque of a turbocharged engine.
Driving the GT86 in the dry is quite the pleasure, with direct, well-weighted steering, some fine chassis dynamics and enough grip (and a fast-acting stability program) to keep you on the straight and narrow. It’s meant to be a playful car on the limit, and the narrow tyres contribute to this. In damp conditions, you may find that the back end starts to step out of line sooner than expected. However, it is very progressive and the standard stability program will step in to assist you. So, if you enjoy more playful handling, then the GT86 is a refreshing change to the ultra-high grip levels of a modern sports car, but some people may find this a bit unnerving to begin with.
The GT86 is still quite comfortable as sports cars go, with a ride that manages to soak up large shocks from speed bumps, potholes and even motorway expansion joints, yet isn’t so soft that it allows the car to roll a great deal in the bends. In 2018, as part of a series of club sport special editions to celebrate Toyota's motorsport team, a Blue Edition was added to the GT86 range. If you can find one with the optional performance pack (it'll have unique 17in alloy wheels that are painted black), then you'll get uprated Sachs dampers for sharper handling and bigger Brembo brakes for increased braking performance and better pedal feel. Road noise can be a bit of an issue on long drives, so if you want the ultimate long-distance cruiser, then the Audi TT is a better choice.
Another issue is interior quality. Most of the plastics are rather hard and hollow sounding, with plenty of the switches feeling like they come from a car built 30 years ago, especially the orange backlit digital clock. You do get plenty of equipment to try to make up for this because every GT86 gets alloy wheels, climate control, cruise control and xenon headlights as standard. Later Pro, Orange and Blue Edition models were added to the range and these versions got heated Alcantara seats along with Alcantara inserts on the dash and door cards to make the interior feel a bit more premium.
Space up front is fine, with seats that are very low on the floor. The front seats are very comfortable and well shaped to allow you to tackle long drives without suffering backache, but rear seat space is very limited and should only be used to transport people for short trips. There’s a reasonably sized boot in the GT86 with the option to fold down the rear seats to load longer items. Unfortunately, the boot opening is rather small and means you cannot load taller objects in there. If you need ultimate practicality, then the Volkswagen Golf R can seat five and transport their luggage, too.
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