Toyota F86 a top class package
07 August 2012 | GLEN HILL
Although it is certainly not flawless, Toyota’s new F86 does not disappoint and, with a price tag of under R300 000, it is the limited supply that is most likely to produce long faces.
The standout characteristics on the F86 are styling and handling. A sub R300 000 head-turner is not that easy to find.
It is as if designers are far better rewarded to make expensive cars look better than less expensive ones. If so Toyota have broken the tradition with the F86.
The exterior, besides looking great, produces a drag coefficient of just Cd 0.27.
Fortunately the designers have been able to “walk the talk” and produce a package that handles the way it looks it should.
Given that the F86 is rear wheel-driven and has a limited slip diff this is of special importance.
Toyota were not exactly shy about emphasizing this point at the launch, where they set up a small drifting course.
Despite a complete lack of expertise on my part, it did reveal that the F86 is well balanced and has decent manners. More than anything it reminded us just how much fun rear-wheel drive really is.
Driven on the open road the F86 proved to be just about as much fun.
MacPherson front strut and rear double wishbone suspension dealt with a sub-standard road surface really well.
The auto box could be operated via steering wheel paddles and was okay, I suppose. However, once I had driven the manual there could be no going back.
The extra R50 000 for the auto makes no sense. Even at even money it would make no sense.
The slightly notchy short throw gear lever is fantastic and changing gear is a pleasure.
The engine is a four-cylinder boxer design with a displacement of 2.0-litres. The bore and stroke are both 86mm which, one presumes, was part of the design brief to pay homage to the earlier Corolla Levin AE86 which inspires the F86.
The low centre of gravity afforded by the boxer design has not been wasted and, along with 53 percent to 47 percent front bias weight distribution, makes for an exceptionally well balanced car.
Naturally aspirated, the boxer produces 147 kW and Torque of 205 Nm, while revving happily to 7000 rpm. In the auto a red light flashes at this point to warn you to change gear by 7400rpm or face the rev-limiter.
It is presumed that people who choose the manual model know when to do this anyway.
A lack of power is probably the F86’s Achilles heel, in so far as it has one. But I doubt that it will remain that way.
There are already rumours of the Subaru BRZ, essentially the same car, generating 190Kw and even vague references to “something under 300bhp (223kw)”.
Whether the Subaru sourced F86 engine is given more power by Toyota or not, remains to be seen. I am pretty sure after-market tuners are salivating at the thought and another 30kW or so would make the car brilliant.
One change I would recommend off the bat would be tyres. The rubber Toyota offer is the same as that on the Prius – and they told us that as if it were a good thing.
A softer compound would definitely allow drivers to squeeze even more out of what is already extremely good.
Inside the car the instruments are dominated by a large central tachometer, flanked by a smaller speedo on the one side and water temperature and fuel gauges.
There is no oil temperature gauge, so budget for that if you plan to start tweaking the motor.
The radio and various-other-things player looks as if it were ripped straight from a Hilux, and detracts from what is otherwise a pleasant and uncluttered dash.
In contrast the frameless rear view mirror in the high spec models is one of the coolest I have ever seen. A little too much committee decision making perhaps.
There are two rear seats, but they make assumptions about the human form that are simply not true.
I can only think they were put there to fill the space left after Toyota had decided on the optimal wheelbase. They are best ignored.
Folding the seat back down, however, apparently creates sufficient boot space for four standard tyres for racing.
Try and convince the dealer to keep the rear seat, perhaps to use in his waiting room, in exchange for the four tyres. Leave the car like that forever.
The spare wheel protrudes from its well up into the boot and has no cover. It is the most bizarre arrangement I have ever seen.
The only explanation I can think of is that the well was created by a designer with hybrid and battery in mind. Hopefully assault and battery won the day.
On the passive safety front all models have seven airbags – driver, passenger, side, curtain and driver knee bag. There is, of course, ABS with EBD, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC).
The default VSC intrudes fairly quickly, which is a good thing given the rear-wheel drive. But, importantly it offers a VSC SPORT mode.
When selected the the system allows you far more time to get into trouble by expanding parameters.
For the very skilled and brave, or foolish, both TRC and VSC may also be fully disengaged.
There will be three models available in South Africasix-speed manuals in Standard or High trim and a six-speed Auto in High trim and strictly for the posers.
External differences between the two grades are limited to the HID headlamps with LED accents, 17-inch alloys and the headlamp cleaners for the High models.
To my mind the Standard specification is fine, save your money for the host of accessories Toyota tell us are in the pipeline.
All new 86 models come with a four year/60 000 kilometre Service Plan included in the purchase price (service intervals are every 15 000 kilometres), along with Toyota's comprehensive three-year/100 000 kilometre warranty.
The new 86 is supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme, and entitles customers to 24 hour roadside assistance, for ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.
Pricing: Toyota 86 Standard 6-speed Manual - R298 500; Toyota 86 High 6-speed Manual - R329 400; Toyota 86 High 6-speed Auto - R346 500.
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