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Here's Why You Shouldn't Buy a GT86

2y ago


I own a Toyota GT86. The '86 has a great following and it's loved by petrolheads everywhere. Spend five minutes chatting to a GT86 owner and they will throw motoring cliches at you until you've lost most of your day: "a real driver's car", "there's no buttons on the steering wheel so you can just focus on the task at-hand", "handles like a go kart" etc. In fact, it was an abundance of these cliches that convinced me to part with my cash and buy one. I thought I'd share my ownership experience to help those considering a purchase.

It all boils down to reliability. I bought a GT86 safe in the knowledge that it would be bombproof. It's a Toyota - the biggest car manufacturer in the world, praised for reliability. Even the fact it's built by Subaru shouldn't raise any eyebrows - they're a very reliable brand. That being said, here's a taste of what has went wrong with my car:


I knew the air con was faulty when I bought the car. No biggie, just have it re-gassed, right? Right. Except at the time this was £230 due to the ozone-friendly r1234yf gas this model year uses. Thankfully the cost is dropping all the time. I know this because 9 months later it needs to be re-gassed again. This is now around £150.


Mmmmmm... Clean window.

When I bought the car I was also aware of vertical scratches on both door windows (The driver’s door was much more severe). Searching online revealed this was a known issue caused by the support mechanism in the door which has a fetish for chewing window glass. The dealer took the vehicle in, inspected it, and deemed the cause to be accidental damage which would not be covered under warranty. After pushing further, the car was booked in again. This time, I was told I had to pay (~£600!) to replace the affected parts on the driver’s side only. I was told warranty might refund me either fully or partially after the work was complete. The dealer was unwilling to do the work without me agreeing to pay in advance. I then contacted Toyota directly, who spoke to the dealership. My car was then booked-in for a third time and the driver’s-side parts replaced. The scratch on the passenger window remains. I've been told this is accidental damage and will not be replaced.


If I'd known I would be publishing these images I would have tried harder, I swear.

I noticed a lot of condensation had formed in the rear lamp. The car was booked in and the brake light seal was replaced – Consider me a happy chappy.
However, the issue returned. The car was booked in (for 2 weeks!) for other work and the dealer agreed to inspect the lamp. I was genuinely told it was “too sunny” so condensation could not be observed. I provided photos of the issue and the car was booked in again (for just over a week - other issues being investigated too) for more work. Again, I was told it was “too sunny” so the issue could not be replicated. I still have moist rear lights.


The central locking on my car would intermittently go on strike, leaving me unable to lock/start/unlock the car. This nearly made me late to my first day of work at a new job, caused the alarm to sound many times (my neighbours adore me), left me unable to lock my car overnight on several occasions and has also left me unable to start the car in the morning.
The car was booked in several times where no fault was found with the system. Helpfully, a technician traced the issue to the central locking system interfering with the WiFi network in my house.
Great success! Problem solved! Well, no. I can't park my car on my drive in front of my house because the WiFi confuses the central locking/immobiliser more than my Advanced Mechanics of Materials lecturer confused me at Uni.


[Apologies for the poor quality video - driving a manual whilst balancing a phone in your centre console is more difficult than it sounds]

This is by far the worst element of my GT86 story. My gearbox crunches when changing from 1st to 2nd gear. It's not all the time and it's worse when cold. This is a relatively common issue on forums, but I wanted to get it looked at. I first reported the issue to my dealer on 29/09/16. Cut a (very) long story short, I've been without the car for close to a month whilst it's been at the stealership to have the gearbox inspected. Most recently, I was offered a £30.84 discount as a goodwill gesture to have my rear discs and pads replaced (which did need replacement as a serviceable item) whilst the car was in for a gearbox inspection. The front discs & pads were close to needing replaced too, so with another goodwill gesture thrown-in, I agreed to have the work done since the car was already there and I was finally getting my gearbox sorted. £504.24 later, I left with a significant hole in my wallet and a crunchy gearbox. The gearbox was never inspected. Worse still, I had to phone to check on the car. My car had been sitting outside with my shiny new discs rusting in the rain and no one thought to tell me they were finished with the car. Just to reiterate: This has now been ongoing for 9 months...


This is pretty self-explanatory. The car isn't even 5 years old. Toyota knew about this on 09/03/2017. Still waiting for a response from the warranty team. Not going to hold my breath.

There's more...

I've had a weeping shock absorber replaced, brake pads replaced as a result of them squealing like a banshee under light braking, a loose wing mirror fixed, a loose fog light fixed, Toyota were briefly unable to align my wheels because they had the GT86 Aero alloys fitted (?) and I've been waiting for months to test drive the facelift GT86 after asking the dealership several times - not that I'm interested in buying one any more...

the rest

This is no Rolls Royce Phantom, I get that. I was not expecting it to sound like an empty concert hall. What I was expecting, however, was less in the way of irritating noises. The number of things that rattle inside the cabin changes daily. The reverse lift on the gear knob is by far the most frustrating: You know that noise your phone makes when it vibrates on a hard surface? That's the noise my gear knob makes every time you floor it past 5000 RPM. There's also several unidentified rattles, some of which I believe are various wires bouncing off the metal inside the boot. At motorway speeds, you're treated to a constant whistle of wind noise which has me wondering whether I left my window partially open.

I was not expecting the '86 to skim across potholes with the grace of a Bentley. However, the ride in towns with rough roads is difficult to live with on a daily basis. That same stiff suspension that gives great road-holding on country roads is overly harsh when you're negotiating rough surfaces and speed bumps. With this car you obviously expect a relatively stiff ride, but the suspension does not need to be this harsh when dealing with sudden changes in surface. Aftermarket lowering springs/coilovers can actually improve the ride! Sometimes you're just nipping out to buy milk at the shop, you're not looking to achieve 1.5G in the Tesco car park.

If this is your 'weekend warrior' car you might not be as bothered by the lack of steering wheel controls as I am, but it irritates me. The lack of buttons on the wheel is praised as a masterpiece of design - allowing the driver to fully immerse themselves in the engaging experience of driving. Personally, I think it's a masterpiece of accounting and marketing. The lack of bluetooth/volume control buttons probably saved Toybaru hundreds-of-thousands of pounds (considering how many units have been sold) and the marketing guys spin it as a more driver-focused car: Win win.

Most of my driving is not done on the track; it's done on the way to work, or on road trips, or enjoying a good B-road with some good music. Not taking my hands off the wheel when my mum calls me, or when I want to turn the music up - that's what keeps me more focused on the road. If it was that big a deal, they wouldn't have added steering wheel controls to the facelift model.

the catch

The cliches are all true. It's a brilliant car to drive. It loves being sideways and it treats you on a good B-road. The torque dip is not the worst thing in the universe and it's lack of power does not make it a bad car. It's extremely rewarding and engaging to drive. It's a shame it's useless at everything else.

On an unrelated note, does anyone want to buy a used Toyota GT86?

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