When Toyota South Africa introduced the spiritual successor to the iconic “Hachi-Roku”, the AE86, in 2012, the company decided to call it the “86” only – diverging from most other countries that used the “GT” designation for the new 2+2 sports car jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru.

Nothing wrong with that, except that, used in isolation, the “86” description did not resonate with local buyers (besides die-hard Toyota fans) since the AE86 – introduced in 1983 as part of the fifth-generation Corolla (E80) range – was never made available in South Africa. 

Quietly admitting to this initial faux pas, in late 2018, Toyota South Africa changed the somewhat uninspiring 86 nomenclature to GT86 – as it was known virtually worldwide (it was also known as the FT86 and Scion FR-S before the US-based Scion brand was discontinued) – when the 2+2 sportscar underwent some motorsport-inspired tweaks.

Now, Toyota has added more “grrr” to the GT86 with the introduction of the all-new GR86. Following hot on the heels of the new Subaru BRZ (on which it is based), the new GR86 made its debut in a shared online event hosted by Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) and Subaru Corporation. 

The new GR86 and the new Subaru BRZ were jointly developed as part of the business and capital alliance between the two automakers, signed in 2019. The two companies committed to engaging together in making better cars. 

The new GR 86 is specially designed for sports performance, and this third model in the global GR portfolio, joining the acclaimed GR Supra and GR Yaris, is expected to be the lightest four-seater coupé in its class, thanks to weight-saving initiatives, including using aluminium for the roof and body panels.

Bigger Engine, More Power

The coupé is powered by a new, lightweight, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder engine with an increased displacement of 2.4 litres, bringing a step-up in performance over the 2.0-litre unit in the GT86. Sitting low in the chassis, the new Boxer engine gives the GR86 a lower centre of gravity than its predecessor.  

The 2.4-litre naturally aspirated engine, with preliminary power figures quoted as 173 kW, redlines at 7,000 rpm, and with a 15 percent increase in torque (250 Nm, pending local market confirmation) delivers better performance – and an 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just 6.3 seconds (down from 7.4 seconds for the outgoing model).

The new GR86, with dimensions almost identical to its predecessor and improved torsional rigidity (by about 50 percent), will most probably be available in Premium and Limited trims and will be offered with two transmissions; the standard six-speed manual or a six-speed auto with a new Sport mode, designed for more aggressive driving.

Interestingly, the automatic version of the GR86 will be equipped with the novel Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology system providing a comprehensive menu of safety technologies. The GR86, by all accounts, is set for its local debut in the first quarter of next year, and with local specifications subject to homologation, will only be confirmed at the time of launch.


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