It’s funny to review a car like the 2018 Toyota 86 GT and talk about how the sports car offering is value for money.
But, the Toyota 86 is actually one of the best-value buys on the Australian car market.
I’ve driven cars from Ferrari and Lamborghini and I always feel like Toyota’s sporty coupe delivers a lot of the same fun and feel, but at roughly 5% of the cost!
The Toyota has a similar go-kart feel as the big boys, it sits down low on the road, has quite an upright steering wheel, and a sporty driving position.
It’s more than five year since the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ was first revealed and still today it’s a good looking car.
The long bonnet, stubby tail, long coupe doors, and low roof-line give you the true sports car look.
The Toyota 86 that I had to review was also fitted with the new optional ‘Performance Pack’ and this brings the attractive 10-spoke 17” alloy wheels.
The Toyota 86 cabin has changed just a little over the years, mostly around the infotainment system, some of the controls and the steering wheel.
Interestingly, the 2018 version comes with a steering wheel that doesn’t have any buttons or controls - this is at odds with the industries recent attraction to jamming as many controls and switches onto the wheel.
Legroom up front is adequate, but the two rear seats provide little more space than for occasional use.
I had two adults in the rear of my test car for a short jaunt and it was not a pleasant experience for front or rear seat passengers.
The Toyota 86 is certainly more suited to just two adults on a weekend away - my partner and I didn’t quite get the weekend away but we did have a pleasant day testing the car in the Southern Highlands.
Access to the rear seat would also be easier if the front seats were fitted with an upper control lever to slide and tilt the seats forward, rather than just at the bottom.
The front seats in the Toyota sports coupe are very sporty and that means the bolsters on the seat base can be a little uncomfortable, though if you have a svelte figure you might fit in a little better than the average size Australian.
A lack of a centre console arm-rest also brings comfort levels down on longer drives.
Cabin storage areas are reasonably sized, while the cup holders and centre storage area (without a lid) are a fair way back in the console and are a little awkward to access.
Toyota’s latest infotainment system is also an improvement over previous attempts, though I often find that the buttons are just a little too small.
Also, there’s no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, and the 2018 Toyota 86 doesn’t offer digital radio in either GT or GTS grades.
Standard kit in the Toyota 86 GT includes sat-nav, a reverse camera, cruise control, LED headlamps, and key-less entry.
There’s no adaptive cruise control, nor will you get emergency braking, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Drive and Engine
The Toyota 86 is powered by a Subaru-sourced boxer engine and in 2018 delivers 152kW/212Nm to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto transmission.
I had the manual version and once again believe that this is the best configuration for this vehicle.
The power is adequate, but a lack of torque means you really need the manual transmission to get the best possible performance out of the 86.
The engine delivers just enough performance to meet the overall sporty feel of the car, but I always lament the fact that just a little more power and torque (perhaps from a turbocharger?) could have made this car a real legend.
The steering is rather heavy, but direct, and helps the overall sporty feel, the suspension, including the ‘Sachs’ dampers, is firm, but surprisingly easy to live with.
While the larger Brembo brakes are a real winner (and the painted red calipers also look good!).
Perhaps the only real complaint I had when driving the 86 was the tyre noise - on rough surfaces it was particularly noticeable and even affected the ability to hear my front seat passenger in conversation.
The 2018 Toyota 86 range comes with a full five-star ANCAP safety rating. There is a driver’s knee airbag, front, side and head protecting airbags too.
Driver assist/safety features like rear cross traffic alert and emergency braking (as mentioned above) are yet to make their way into the 86.
- Realistic pricing
- Sporty look and feel
Not So Good Bits
- No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- No digital radio
- Missing some safety/drive assist tech
- Rear seat capacity
The Toyota 86 GT is a good-value offering for people who want a sports car lifestyle, but don’t have the bank balance to go for something exotic.
Well-built, fun, and mostly quite easy to live with, the manual version of the Toyota 86 is a great way to get about with a smile on your face, without breaking the bank.
It would be nice if it had a bit more go, and it needs a few more features as well, but as far as a sports cars go this is truly a great value buy.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Toyota 86 GT
- Engine: Four-cylinder naturally-aspirated ‘boxer’ producing 152kW/212Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed auto
- Safety: Five-stars
- Warranty: 3yrs/100,000km
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $31,440