Toyota GT86, Blue Edition
Back in the 80s and 90s, if you wanted a fast, Japanese Coupe, your go to manufacturer was Toyota. Competition from the likes of Honda wasn’t far behind, and arguably, with the NSX, they overtook, while Nissan had a fair few options available too, but the real performance was found in the Supra. There is a new Supra out this year, but for the last few years, Toyota’s sporting pedigree has resided in the GT86 – and baring in mind the new Supra starts a little north of £53k, I think the £20k saving offered by the GT86 means it’ll be around for some time yet.
The model I tested was a high-spec ‘Blue Edition’, with optional performance pack and manual gearbox. More on the gearbox later… the blue edition, predictably, comes in a stunning blue colour, and looks every bit the sleek coupe it is marketed as. Small, compact, and high-revving; very much the traditional Japanese sporty coupe.
Powered by a 2-litre boxer engine with almost 200bhp, it sounds great and really puts the power down well. It’s questionable whether 200bhp is enough for a sporty coupe, but on this occasion, I was very happy with the performance. While the 0-60 time isn’t blistering, it’s no slouch either, coming in at a little over seven seconds. There are numerous debates and arguments raging between fans and critics of a boxer engine, but to be honest, I prefer to focus on how a car feels and drives, so I’m going to ignore it.
Well, mostly ignore it. One major criticism of boxer engines is that they are noisy, which the GT86 was… but it was a good noise. The high revving engine meant that it seemed more powerful than it was, and with the manual gearbox (lovely short shifting gearstick, by the way) it was easy to make it sound as good as it looked. And make no mistake, this is a very good looking little sports car.
So it looks good, sounds good and has heritage on its side. But what about practicality? Well, the boot isn’t big. It’s not tiny, but not massively practical for four people – which is what it seats. But not in comfort for those in the back. I’d almost go so far as to suggest that this should have been a simple two-seater, but then it would be competing with the more expensive, more powerful Supra. All in all, practicality is not the best, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s not going to be a family’s first car, it’s a second car when a family has an estate or a practical hatchback as well.
The ride isn’t the best for passengers either, but as the driver, I felt very connected; both to the car and the road. And the way the power is delivered really gives a great driving experience, with all the drive coming straight from the back wheels. One word of warning though – while driving to work once, around a slight left hand bend I hit a pothole, not at speed mind you – but the back end still snapped out of line and it took some opposite lock to get the car pointing the right way again. Slightly worrying that it can do so at low speed, but easy enough to snatch control back.
To sum up then: small, noisy, impractical for a family and will try to step out of line without provocation. I loved it.