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Toyota GT86

Toyota GT86 Review

1,998cc horizontally-opposed, four-cylinder petrol engine with port and direct fuel injection, double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Price: From £22,700
Toyota GT86

Inchscape Toyota in Kidlington lent me the Toyota GT 86 for the weekend…Yes, I was like a kid with a new bike on Christmas day!

OK, I may be 53 and drive a Jag XKR, sports tourer which I adore, however I had been waiting to drive the GT86 for the last 2 years, having been an owner of each of the last 3 models of the most beloved Celica’s.

After 35 years in January 2006 the last Celica ceased production due to the strict new emission laws. After I dried my tears, I had always hoped that Toyota would be able to follow the iconic Celica. It was with a great deal of sorrow that I parted with my last one.

So, fans like me have been bereft whilst we’ve been waiting the wait for that car that every enthusiast with modest resources has had to endure before Toyota had the time to build an authentic, low-weight, low-cost, compact sports car.

Toyota GT86

 

So would I be underwhelmed by the GT86? Or set to be astonished?

Inchscape Toyota in Kidlington lent me the Toyota GT86 for the weekend…

Yes, I was like a kid with a new bike on Christmas day!

The Toyota GT86 feels light and compact, a bit like a Mazda MX-5. However for an older lady like me the MX-5 is a little too low to get into! Whereas the GT86 is a bit more forgiving by being slightly higher off the ground. Always a good thing for the geriatric among us. The front-engined, rear-drive 2+2 is powered by a 2.0-litre flat-four engine that churns out 197bhp and 151lb ft. A six-speed manual is standard; there's also a six-speed automatic on offer.

There are three main models in the range; they gave me the Aero to drive. On first impressions I liked the shape. However if I was buying I don’t think I would go for this particular model as the spoiler was way too big, boy racers however would love it. My 21 year old son thought it was wicked! But for me it was a bit reminicent of Grand Theft auto street cruiser. I pointed out to my son that we not going for a “drift” – whatever that is.

That aside, once I started to drive her, I was immediately taken back to the time when I felt the excitement of driving my first beloved and beautiful Celica. Swift off the mark with a 6 speed box that was smooth with the most responsive steering, I was transported back to my 20’s. I must say that when I first drove it away from the showroom, it was chucking it down with rain. With the rear wheel drive and my sensible, I MUST not prang it “head on”, I did not want to lose the back end on cornering. So with slight tredpidation I was able to open her up. The light handling and the responsiveness of the engine on going up and down the gearbox sent chills down my spine. My “TOY”ota had now been adopted and we were going out to play!

A two-plus-two, the cabin has rear seats (unusable except for the smallest of kids) however if you fold the rear seats – the boot is surprisingly large.

But with a good driving position with bucket seats, a leather trim with red stitching trimmed seat and steering wheel it felt light and comfortable. The instrument panel is clear and with three-dial simplicity, big centre console screen for satnav. Heating and air conditioning controls are simple.

On starting the up the engine sounds surprisingly throaty, gear changes are quick and responsive and the major controls are light with a meaty weight to the electrically-assisted steering and a short-throw transmission. While the power delivery is a little flat, this little baby flies. Once hitting the first corner and you understand what it's all about. The nose comes round eagerly, with not much body roll thanks to a low centre of gravity and the GT86 is beautifully balanced.

I was having so much fun! The GT86 is old-school! I hadn’t had this much fun in years and I remembered driving skills I had long forgotten.

You'd have to pay out almost twice the price to get something to rival the GT86.

 

Tech Spec

 

Tested: 1,998cc horizontally-opposed, four-cylinder petrol engine with port and direct fuel injection, double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Six-speed manual transmission, with optional six-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive. Price: From £22,700. 3 Models: Primo, Aero, Giallo (Limited Edition). Model Driven: Aero. Power/Torque: 197bhp @ 7,000rpm/151lb ft @ 6,600rpm. Top Speed: 149mph. Acceleration: 0-62mph in about 7 seconds. Fuel Economy: Above 40mpg. CO2 Emissions: N/A. VED Band: N/A. Verdict: Fabulous old-school sports coupé that brings the fun back to driving

- Chrissie Woodward

 

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