- The car in question.

Toyota GT86 Review

Could this be one of the best drivers cars for under 30K? Read on to find out!

Right from the get go the GT86 (and BRZ) have got the perfect recipe for a drivers car. N/A engine designed by Subaru, a beautiful manual gearbox, real wheel drive and skinny tires to allow the car to move around and for you to learn car control.

The GT86 is in a relatively unique in its sector. Apart from the Subaru BRZ it’s 99 per cent identical to, of course. The only thing they have to compete against is the Mazda MX5 and, of course, the Mazda's counterpart from Fiat, the 124 Spider. Toyota have released special versions here and there but they still havent added more power to the 2.0L boxer engine.

The Subaru developed Boxer engine.

The Subaru developed Boxer engine.

What's it like on the road?

The GT86 is a brilliant car. Its light on its feet and brilliant at direction change. It covers ground very well thanks to a good suspension setup and wonderful brakes with an accurate pedal. The engine gives that typical Subaru burble which having had an Impreza in the family for nearly 13 years is a sound I've missed dearly.

To get the best out of the GT86 you really have to be on your game as it has quite snappy reactions. Luckily the prefect chassis balance means you can feel it getting loose beneath you. A smooth driving style is something you'll need to adopt quickly for this car, otherwise it can get lose and frustrate you. But like all good drivers cars on sale it teaches you to be a better driver. To think about the weight transfer and to manage the power and feel what those tires are doing though the steering wheel.

"driving it makes you smile"

My Mother

The control weights in the GT86 are spot on. The gearbox feels super direct, the throw is short and overall the shift just feels quality. There's a satisfying notchiness to it making it feel super nice even around town. The steering is electric system which was a surprise to me because it feels like a PAS system. But the detail given is similar to the system in our GT4. The wheel is small so it makes the car feel extra nimble which gives you more confidence. It also feels just right to hold. Feedback though the steering it just right you can really feel the road beneath you but it soaks up the worst of the roads imperfections.

The engine is a solid engine, but perhaps the only area that lets down the GT86? The small 2.0l flat 4 only has 197 bhp which is the same as a new Ford Fiesta ST but doesn't have all the torque from turbo chargers. So it does feel quite slow. It really feels like it could do with another 30 bhp then it would be spot on. However, the the N/A engine give tremendous throttle response and also means you have to use all those revs to really get the most from that car. Which is what I want from a drivers car. But this car has plenty of room for modifications, especially a turbo conversion. So even though stock it feels like there is a lack of power you can always add that back in yourself.


The interior is wonderfully simple. No gimmicks in here to distract you from the task in hand, driving. You get low-set seats and a perfectly positioned steering wheel that nestles into your hands and a slick-shifting gear lever. The rev counter is positioned right in the middle of the dial pack, proudly showing its 7,400 rpm red line, although there is also a nod to sophistication with the availability of colour touchscreen navigation in the centre of the dash. And a small screen that can display things like a G-Meter.

The simple interior in the GT86.

The simple interior in the GT86.

The back seats are for full size adult, such as myself, are a bit of a laugh as you have no feet room and you have minimal headroom but the seats are comfy and you could do a long journey in it but you'd have to stop to stretch. The 2017 model year upgrade brought tweaks to the infotainment system, some nicer materials, while that dinkier steering wheel gained audio controls.

An performance graph.

An performance graph.


Despite being relatively cheap, strongly warrantied and with bags of equipment as standard, the GT86 might fail the showroom test for some. It simply doesn't have the wow factor of an Audi TT, VW Golf GTI or second-hand Porsche Cayman. But that's not the point of the GT86. There is just something satisfying about the way its been built and the decisions that have been made. And this car is worth every penny in the way it drives down a challenging B road. As the car world advances towards plug-in this and autonomous that, it’s a line in the sand for old school fun.

Little spoiler doesn't provide downforce but does look good.

Little spoiler doesn't provide downforce but does look good.

Old school fun and wonderful balance. Could do with more power.

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