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It’s low it’s sporty and it’s rear wheel drive. It’s everything a modern Toyota isn’t, and it’s now available in South Africa.
Okay, so you may have spotted the 86 on local streets for the past few weeks already, but Toyota wanted to wait until it had its first allocation of higher-specification models in hand before officially presenting its new baby to media. Until now, all units you’ve seen were base “Standard” versions which sell for just below R300 000 - an impressive figure for this sort of car.
But before bombarding you with all the pricing specifics, you need to know that the 86 is what you’d call a “big deal” in modern motoring terms. Not only because it’s the first Toyota in years to feature more than an inkling of passion and flair, but because it resurrects a once extinct genre of car.
Other than the Scion FR-S (sold in North America only) and Subaru BRZ (coming to our market soon), which are almost identical mechanically but stuck with different badges, there is no other car in the world that is front-engined, rear-wheel drive and hard-roofed, and built onto a platform of these dimensions in this price range.
The 86 classifies as an entry-level sportscar, just like the MGB GTs and Datsun Z cars of days gone by. Today, the 86’s closest rivals could be considered Kia’s Koup and Mazda’s MX-5, except one’s front-wheel drive and the other is a convertible.
Power comes from a naturally-aspirated two-litre boxer four developed by Subaru that makes 147kW and 205Nm. Because it’s a boxer, it’s relatively flat and fits under that shallow bonnet with a low centre of gravity but, in all honesty, it could do with a bit more in the guts department.
Toyota claims 7.6 seconds for the 0-100km/h dash (8.2 for the auto) but these figures will be severely hindered at Gauteng altitude.
No, there are no plans for a turbocharged version (not even when it comes as an STi in Subaru trim) but a little bird says some TRD tuning gear might increase claimed outputs to around the 188kW mark in the foreseeable future.
The name 86, by the way, not only refers to an older Toyota model called the AE86 from the early 1980s, but also the boxer motor’s architectural square bore and stroke of 86mm. Other interesting titbits include the car’s exhaust tips which are 86mm in diameter, and the circular “86” logo that is designed to look like four wheels in a drift.
You must also know that in SA we’ve adopted the shortened Japanese name of 86, and not GT86 as in other markets. And if you really want to sound like an anorak, you must pronounce it “eight-six” and not “eighty-six”.
As I said before, the 86 is a bit too under-endowed to get turbocharged hatches on the defensive, but it is the sweetest handling car in the R300 000 range, full stop. The clickety manual gearshift action is also a high point, as is the frameless rear-view mirror that makes all other black-rimmed mirrors look outdated. Low points, and there are a couple, include a full-sized spare wheel that protrudes into the boot without a finishing cover, and a radio straight out of a Hilux with green backlighting that doesn’t match the rest of the car’s orange.
ONLY 800 ALLOCATED FOR SOUTH AFRICA
Standard spec, as in all cars sold until now, means 16” alloys, power windows, an on-board computer, a leather-covered steering wheel, a six-speaker CD/MP3/USB/Aux sound system, seven airbags, ABS and Vehicle Stability Control.
Another R31 000 will move you up to “High” spec which adds 17” wheels, a dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, and HID headlights with LED accents.
A further R17 000 will get you a six-speed automatic transmission on top of High spec.
Toyota South Africa says it has set local stock limits at “everything it can get” level, which is only 800 units for this year. - Star Motoring