2013 Toyota GT86 – Back to the origins
As time went by, the automotive market changed and, from a petrolhead’s perspective, one could say that we got less for more money. Cars got bigger, heavier, and more artificial – if you want. They feel comfortable, but less connected to the enthusiastic driver. And we get it. They have to comply with the safety standards, they need to be well equipped, they need to have a bigger boot, and more space in the back. So what’s the said enthusiastic driver to do, if he wants a light, nimble sports car, where having four zone climate control and seat massage matters less than having a limited slip differential and a great feedback through the steering wheel? Enter the 2013 Toyota GT86!
Well, Toyota seems to be on the right track (finally!) with their compact, back-to-basics sports car, delivering exactly what the petrolheads all over the world were expecting. This comes up as a pleasant surprise, if we’re honest, as despite having a great heritage in sports cars (think of the old Celica, Supra or MR2), Toyota has focused on a rather mundane range of vehicles for the past decade.
The 2013 Toyota GT86 is a 2+2 compact coupe, powered by a 2.0 liter flat-four engine developing 197 HP and 151 ft-lb of torque. Power is sent at the rear wheels either through the standard 6 speed manual gearbox or the optional 6 speed automatic. Taking into consideration that this is a driver focused car, we’d recommend the manual transmission.
Despite the seemingly low power output, the car feels very agile and nimble, due to its lightness (less than 1300 kg). It is not a very fast car, 0 to 60 comes in 7.4 seconds, but it offers a decent level of performance. Though not much torque, the high revving boxer engine will please most of the 2013 Toyota GT86 users. Rev it above 5000 RPM and the car really becomes alive, all the way up to 7500 RPM. The power delivery is smooth but constant and, if you like going sideways, the limited slip differential offered as a standard will do the job just fine.
At $30,000 for the base model, the car is neither cheap, nor expensive, and it will face some stiff competition from similarly priced hot-hatches (Golf GTI, Megane RS, Vauxhall VXR etc.) which offer more power for the money, but in a less true-to-motorsport FWD layout. Although wrapped in a very nice looking exterior, the base model feels a bit cheap on the inside. Add some options, like leather seats, SatNav, automatic climate control and the price will go north towards the $40,000 mark. But whatever this car lacks in finishes and luxuries on the interior, it makes it up with excellent handling, accurate steering and one of the best chassis in its segment.
Speaking of dynamics, this is where the 2013 Toyota GT86 really shines. Though you may not get too many drag racing trophies in it, take it on the twisties and enjoy the precise handling and the level of driving satisfaction that only cars with far greater price tags could offer. The steering is just a bit light, but communicative nonetheless. The chassis feels grippy and even when it lets go, it does it in a very easy controllable way. The single major drawback to the car is the torque, or rather the lack of it. We do hope that Toyota will build a more powerful version but until then, the GT86 remains a great package of good looks and huge driving fun for any enthusiast.