Avatar photo

By Andre De Kock

Motorsport Correspondent

Facelifted Toyota GT86 is an instant classic

Improved brakes contribute to new version of a tried and tested formula.

The Americans have a saying that makes incredible sense.

“Ïf it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. They apply that maxim in their motorsport arenas – Nascar racing, drag racing, IndyCar racing, desert racing and Tractor racing have, with some minor modifications, stayed unchanged and incredibly popular in the States over the years.


Toyota have adopted the same rule with their GT86 model.

We got to drive the latest incarnation of their sleek rear-wheel drive, front-engined, driver-orientated sports car recently, and concluded that it is exactly the same as their previous sleek rearwheel drive, front-engined, driver-orientated sports car.

And, that we still love the concept and the vehicle. Let us start at the beginning.

The new GT86 model retains the four-cylinder, two-litre D-4S Subaru Boxer engine of its predecessors, delivering 147kW of power at 7 000rpm and 205Nm of torque between 6 400rpm and 6 600 rpm.

It boasts direct injection and port injection plus four-cam VVTi technology combined to promote combustion efficiency – exactly what it did in the previous car, and still brilliantly efficient.


Do not forget that this engine got hooked up with a serious turbocharger in the Subary WRX Sti, delivering twice the power in the hands of various tuners.

Thus, in its unblown state, it is absolutely bullet-proof – something one does associate with the Toyota badge.

The engine is mated to a sixspeed close ratio manual transmission delivering drive to a limited slip differential in the rear transaxle.

The new model has been blessed with hugely improved Brembo brakes, boasting bigger rotors and callipers – not that there were problems with the previous model’s retardation prowess.

Now, the brakes are like those on a race car – you do not actually step on the pedal, you rest your foot on it and think about slowing down, which makes it happen rapidly and easily.


The GT86 still has an allcoil suspension consisting of MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear, both with a stabiliser bar.

Adding to this, the new version has Sachs performance dampers, to boost handling stability and responsiveness.

Not that there were problems with the predecessor’s handling stability and responsiveness.

We hasten to add that the above improvements are all motorsport-inspired, with the technology trickling down from stuff like Toyota’s World Rally Championship cars.

Visual changes to the GT86 comprise black treatment to the rear spoiler and power folding side mirrors, while new black hued 17-inch alloy wheel complete the black-out theme.

The test vehicle came in Toyota’s new “Bright Blue” colour option, which added a sense of decorum to the otherwise all-sporty concept.


Standard specification includes full LED headlights, taillights and fog lamps, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, seat heating, Alcantara seat -and door trim, plus a multi-information display with digital gauge read out.

A new touchscreen infotainment system occupies the dashboard – complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Show Plus functionality. Also standard is onboard satellite navigation, a Bluetooth telephone system and USB interface – all accessible from the steering-mounted switchgear.

Underlining the fact that the GT86 is firstly and foremost a driver’s car, the front bucket seats enfold occupants, with absolutely every pedal, control, knob or handle placed where its is easy to reach, and expected to be.

As in the past, the rear seats are there, but they fulfil no actual function. Like the Zulu King, but thankfully, a lot cheaper. On the move, the GT86 feels smooth, solidly planted and exact.

It accelerates rapidly with a sporty growl, and just feels RIGHT – a trademark of a well-designed sporty car. In corners it goes exactly where you point it – immediately and with precision that makes you think you drive well.

Many people associate the GT86 with drifting, and it will, if you really want it to, step the tail out under harsh acceleration in tight corners.


But, once you have collected it with a quick dab of opposite lock, you feel almost infantile for indulging in such tyre-wearing antics.

It is far more rewarding to corner this car smoothly, quickly and on exactly the correct line.

The manual gearbox is a jewel – it just clicks into the needed cog with a minimal wrist movement, giving old drivers like myself joy in remembering when all sporty cars had manual gearboxes.

There are various front-wheel and all-wheel drive hot hatches that will leave the GT86 for dead in a straight line, but that is not what this car is about.

It is a precision instrument of driving joy, with its main reason for being to satisfy the person behind the steering wheel.

At an asking price of R581 500, it is also cheaper than most of the hugely turbocharged, often unreliable hatch warriors.

And, the GT86 has a timeless elegance that will endure for many years – an instant classic at a reasonable price.

The GT86 comes with a fouryear/60 000km service plan and a three-year/100 000km warranty.


  • Sleek, timeless design.
  • Bullet-proof Subaru engine.
  • Awesome handling abilities.


  • Toy-sized rear seats.
  • Err…


An afforable instant classic – get one before they change the formula.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

Read more on these topics

Road Tests Toyota