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Toyota's R300K sports car reaches SA

Toyota's back-to-basics, rear-wheel drive coupé has finally hit South African streets and it promises to offer a traditional sports car experience for less than the price of most hot hatchbacks.

The Toyota 86 goes on sale for R298 500 for the standard model, with the high-spec model costing R329 400 and the automatic setting you back R346 500.

The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500. Not its 2000GT ancestor in the background.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.The rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 hits South African streets with a starting price of R298 500.

As we write this, our correspondent Jesse Adams is enjoying the local launch in Mpumalanga and we'll bring you his thoughts as soon as he's had enough time behind the wheel - assuming they can ever pry the keys out of his hand.

In the meantime let's take a look at what sets this purist machine apart. Firstly, it sits low to the ground - its 400mm driver hip-point the lowest of any Toyota - and despite its compact dimensions, it still seats four people.

With the base model tipping the scales at 1220kg, it's also as light as a compact hatchback, which means its Subaru-sourced 2-litre flat-four engine - credited with 147kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm from 6400rpm - deals a bigger punch than you'd expect from its relatively modest-sounding outputs. In fact it power to weight ratio of 120kW per ton surpasses that of the Golf GTI (111kW/t) and comes close to that of the Audi S3 Sportback (126kW/t).

Being more advanced than the Subaru engines we've seen until now, the D-4S motor has separate twin injectors that can inject fuel directly into the cylinder and the port at the same time or just into the cylinder - depending the engine speed. This flexibility, says Toyota, allows for a flatter torque curve and better engine response.

So what does all this power talk mean in the real world?

According to Toyota, the 86 will sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds in six-speed manual form at sea level (8.2 secs in the case of the six-speed automatic model) while the respective top speeds are listed at 226km/h and 210km/h.

But maybe we're missing the point here.

With its throaty, high-revving engine characteristics, a steering rack designed to feel quick and meaty and rear-wheel drive cornering characteristics, the 86 was created to provide joy without having to go too fast.

Power is chanelled to the back wheels via a Torsen limited slip differential with a final drive ratio of 4.1, while rear suspension is via double wishbones tuned for a very direct handling feel.

Its claimed fuel economy figures also look more than half-decent, with a combined cycle figure of 7.8 litres per 100km for the manual and 7.1 l/100km for the auto.

Moving inside, Toyota says the horizontal dashboard was designed to communicate the car's roll posture to the driver, while its instrument cluster - built around a large rev counter - was designed to ensure 'at-a-glance' visibility during sporty driving. In tune with its racy nature, the 86 also has the smallest steering wheel ever fitted to a Toyota.

As for seating, the front seats were designed to offer maximum support during cornering and in the base model the seats are covered in a non-slip, suede-like fabric while the High model has a combination of leather and Alcantara.

As you'd expect given the price difference, the base model does give up a few comfort features but still comes with all the necessities and more - these being air conditioning, power windows, multi information system, leather-covered steering wheel, six-speaker CD/MP3/USB/Aux sound system, seven airbags, ABS and Vehicle Stability Control.

The High specification, among other smaller additions, includes dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, HID headlights with LED accents and 17-inch alloy wheels (the standard one has 16-inch alloys).

Both spec levels are available with a choice of seven exterior colours, these being Lightning Red, Galaxy Blue Silica, Metallic Fusion Orange, White Pearl, Dark Grey, Crystal Black Silica and Sterling Silver.

PRICES

Standard 6-speed manual - R298 500

High 6-speed manual - R329 400

High 6-speed automatic - R346 500

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