Everyone knows that the Toyota 86 will cure even the most severe cases of fun deficit, as BERNIE HELLBERG recently discovered. But does it go far enough to retain its status as king of the baby sports coupés?

There is nothing more satisfying to a motoring scribe than to file a report of a new car that ticks all the right boxes from the get go. “It’s a great car, buy it.” There. Done.

But this seldom happens, and no matter how much you may like a new vehicle, it just doesn’t work that way.

A good thing too, because no car is perfect. Some get darn close, though, as in the case of the 86. It was fantastic when it launched originally, and with the recent cosmetic upgrades, the legend continues. But still, it’s not perfect.

Why? Well, the incremental upgrades bestowed upon the little rear-wheel-drive coupé may be extensive, but they don’t address the one flaw that the 86 had from birth. It lacks turbo power.

There, it is said. Rant over.

The lack of a turbo blower is not a deal breaker in the 86, not at all. The Toyota 86 was always, and still is loads of fun to toss around the twisty bits. Only go-karts and MINI Coopers are more-direct steerers, the chassis is impressively balanced, and it’s still better in manual than in auto guise.

It is an entertaining car, and it is certainly more refined. A Sundae, if you like, with ice cream and sprinkles, but sans the cherry on top.

Will this matter to prospective buyers? Probably not.


Not the engine, for a start; although it has been tweaked to deliver 4 kW more than before at 7,000 r/min, while torque is up to 205 Nm between 6,000 and 6,400 r/min.

The model line-up remains the same, with a Standard version available only in manual, while the High spec model can be had with either the same short-throw six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with now new paddle shifters.

Being so light and manoeuvrable, the 86 is a hoot to pilot in manual form, whereas the automatic is less fussy, but slower. The one upside to the automatic is improved average fuel economy which Toyota claims as 7.1-litres/100 km.

Don’t expect the same frugality with when driving stick, though. Toyota hopes you will achieve 7.8-litres/100 km with the manual, but in reality, and because eight six, you will want to drive this little GT sports car to the max most of the time, guaranteed.

And you when you do, thanks to revised spring rates and damping all around, and a firmer anti-roll bar at the rear, the car will reward you by hunkering down on the high-speed straights, almost as well as it tucks its rear into every fast corner.

While, from behind the wheel, the 86 feels marginally different, some significant upgrades have been made to the exterior and interior of the car.

Starting outside, there are now auto-levelling LED headlamps on both the Standard and High derivatives – with the latter also getting LED daytime running lights and LED spotlights in the redesigned front bumper. The rear lights are upgraded to LEDs as well, and they are displayed in a striking new 3D matrix design.

Toyota has also redesigned the rear spoiler that’s bolted onto the High version, and the original’s 86 badging has been deleted from the front wheel arches.


Overall, changes to the cabin include new grey contrast stitching rather than red of before, as well as the inclusion of Alcantara leather in the door panels and on the passenger side of the dash. It’s a sophisticated look and a vast improvement over the plasticky surfaces seen before.

The 7” infotainment screen remains in place, although remote controls now add more functionality to the slightly smaller steering wheel in the high-spec car.

High models also get a colour TFT screen in the instrument binnacle and a digital gear indicator if it’s the automatic. All models now have hill start assist as standard too.


If unbridled driving fun is what you want from a sports car, the 86 will not disappoint. We certainly can’t fault it, and whether or not we think that Toyota has missed an opportunity to wow the market with this upgrade is a matter of opinion.


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