The beginning of a new legend.
While I know many people were somewhat disappointed with the ‘lack of power’ on the Toyota 86, it’s actually pretty adequate for a car of this size which weighs a mere 1.2 ton. The 2.0-liter Naturally Aspirated Boxer engine primarily developed by Subaru makes 197HP @ 7,000RPM and 205NM of torque @ 6,600RPM. This also results in a rather impressive fuel economy of 11.6 liters/ 100km with (primarily) city and (a little bit of) highway driving.
The primary focus of the Toyota 86 isn’t to win any horsepower races in a straight line, but to give you one of the most pleasurable driving experiences on the road. The chassis, tuned suspension and low height of both the engine and the driver is to emphasize the low center of gravity for an extremely balanced experience.
The power of the engine starts coming once you’ve cleared the first third of the RPM range, easily kicking and screaming all the way to 7K RPM with ferocity. At highway speeds, though, the 86 doesn’t push forward with as much gusto as I’d like to see, while over 6.5K RPM the engine sounds like a screaming banshee that’s borderline annoying. Of course, to many people, hitting the red-line of this 2.0-liter will be music to their ears.
Road grip is fairly decent on these 16-inch rims, although I much preferred the 17-inch on the mid-range and full options, which also come in fatter tires. There’s no doubt that sliding the Toyota 86 sideways is absurdly easy, and because of its poised nature the 86 will never slip out of your control. This is especially true with the ‘VSC Sports’ mode engaged. With the traction control completely off, however, it’s anybody’s guess as to how much you can push the 86 and how good of a driver you are.
Interestingly it’s when parking the Toyota 86 when I noticed, and appreciated, how small it is. Parallel and reverse parking in tight spots was a cinch, and I was reminded once again why I loved hatchbacks.
In all honesty the Toyota 86 is one car you have to test drive to get a feel of it. I know many people are not happy with the low torque and the low-end interior, but for those who’re interested in simply driving a sports car and enjoying the drive, these things are secondary concerns, if at all.
So the Toyota 86 is an affordable, rear-wheel drive sports car with decent power (adequate for its weight), a great sounding Boxer engine with impressive fuel economy and something that’s very easy to maintain, especially in this region. The puny rear seats notwithstanding, the 86 is a perfect daily car as well as something you can take out on the track and have a lot of fun with. And that’s the bottom line with Toyota’s reentry into the sports car market, that their little car is genuinely a lot of fun to drive, not matter where you are.