One with the machine. The new BMW M4 Coupé.

The strength of the BMW M4 Coupé is evident in every detail.

We drive Toyota's RWD Toyota GT 86

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It is fast, but not madly so. You need to work the revvy engine quite hard.

“If a car is not fun, it is not a car,” said Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda at the Tokyo motor show as he revealed the company's new slogan: “Fun to drive, again.”

It is a response to the firm's battering over the past year, which began with a media witch-hunt over the (extremely rare) sticking-accelerator trouble, in which the consumer had to be all-powerful in their right to be incompetent and in which Toyota fell too readily on the corporate sword.

Then there was the Tohoku earthquake followed by the Thai floods, which destroyed the supply chains of every Japanese car company. Against this background, Toyota's new GT 86 comes like a new beginning.

“Car enthusiasts are bored with cars that cost too much in which the driver doesn't do enough and which rely on hugely powerful turbo engines, four-wheel drive and massive grip,” says the GT 86's development engineer, Yoshi Sasak. He's right. Technology has taken over, and what are we to do with such ludicrously fast cars? It's not as if we can really enjoy them on public roads.

Here, then, is Toyota's new sports coupé, created in collaboration with Subaru, whose own version is called BRZ. So it has a Subaru-signature flat-four engine, of 2.0 litres and producing 147kW without the turbocharger usual in fast Subarus. But instead of the now-usual front-wheel drive or Subaru-style four-wheel drive, it has rear-wheel drive.

Among this size and price of sporting coupé, this once-default configuration is now unique. Yet the opportunity it can give for microfine control in a corner is the best configuration for driving fun.

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Usefully, Subaru already had the four-wheel drive Impreza; remove the drive to the front wheels and you have the basis of the GT 86's underpinnings.

The looks owe a little to the 1960s Toyota 2000 GT, an exotic, slightly E-type-like sports car made famous (once the roof had been chopped off) in the Bond film You Only Live Twice.

The “86” part alludes to the riotously entertaining, rear-wheel drive, Toyota Corolla GT Coupé Twin-Cam of the 1980s whose internal codename was AE86. Currently the only sensible-money sports car with a front engine and drive to the rear wheels is the Mazda MX-5, and that's a roadster. So the GT 86 stands alone as the coupé that car nuts have craved for years.

I am pleased to report that all of the promise is fulfilled, and more. The engine is a keen, fizzy thing, its note a mix of rasp and throb, its response instant and wonderfully easy to meter. This, plus crisp, sensitive, natural-feeling steering - it's electrically assisted, amazingly, and surely the best yet of its type - fills the driver with the intoxicating confidence of being fully, entirely in control, even on a damp, slippery test track.

More power in a corner brings on a gentle drift, helped by the limited-slip differential; this car does exactly what you want it to, in a way many recently qualified drivers will probably never have experienced before now.

It's fast, but not madly so. You need to work the revvy engine quite hard, but that's part of the fun. The interior looks and feels good in a racy, functional way; you sit low, and the two tiny back seats are more suitable for chattels than people.

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Above all, though, it's the purity and simplicity of this car's character that really appeals, and the huge entertainment it offers while also managing to be quiet enough, and supple enough over bumps, to be usable every day. This is how a sports coupé should be. I want one, badly. -The Independent on Sunday


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Viv, wrote

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08:15pm on 10 January 2012
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@ Grep, is it not it isn't not ISNT, seeing as you seem to have 'drifted' off the subject. Do you get my drift.

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Thurston Manuel, wrote

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05:03pm on 10 January 2012
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This car is a mockery! l don't own an AE86 (come to think of it l never seen one in SA before, @Kyle do own an AE86?) but l know one thing for sure; you don’t get a boxer engine in a SR5 or a GT-S. These cars weigh 990kg, 220kg less than this GT 86 with an optional LSD and a 16v DOHC. This twin cam is what inspired Toyota fans and tuners. Now when the BRZ from Subaru came along l thought oh well they trying something different; not my taste but different and l simply went on with my business. It’s an ugly car in my opinion but then came Toyota ripped of the twinkly stars and added a Toyota badge and gave it a slight tug on the face in an effort to restore glory for a car that was the Hot Hatch of the 80’s. lt’s preaching the beauty in advertising by saying how amazing this car is and surely some of you agree...

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Boere, wrote

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02:20pm on 10 January 2012
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i drive a Ford Focus RS and 147kw is not bad for a car without a turbo .... would only be desirable to hot hatch drivers if they gave it a turbo and pushed the power output to over 200kw. I like the fact that it is rear wheel drive, but am a bit sceptical of the rear wheel drive system when compared to your usual BMW and Mercedes rear wheel drive system. This in my opinion is for a person who wants to buy there first 'fast' car , but would not be able to handle a GOLF R, Audi RS3, scubi STI or Focus RS .... Beginner state .... but not bad ...... will want to see the supercharged or turbocharged version though .......

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:27pm on 10 January 2012
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Lots of guys comenting on power, do some of you actualy know how to handle power. Great car ToyScoobie. Now Nissan can bring out a new 200SX. We can go drifting.

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Dinny, wrote

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12:10pm on 10 January 2012
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Nad unfortunately they've managed to create what looks like a hyundai coupe. if that had an 'H' badge on the front you'd all be thinking the same thing . . .

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:00am on 10 January 2012
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people just want power figures... shows how much they really know

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Sigh, wrote

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07:38am on 10 January 2012
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Do some more research and you'll understand why this car is so desirable to many, power isn't everything, it's a spiritual succesor of the AE86, a drifting legend, think about that for a second...

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saturnz, wrote

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03:48pm on 9 January 2012
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the power is low probably to make the car affordable, which is what is suggested by Toyoda, however the Toyota makes the same power as the GTI, but without a turbo. I personally like this car and depending on its price (must be below 250k) I will probably consider it over a hot hatch. An aftermarket turbo setup would probably cost around R50k afterwhich you could easily have a 250kw monster on your hands. The biggest plus I think this car has over any of the other hot hatches is that its rear wheel drive.

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Kyle, wrote

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03:36pm on 9 January 2012
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@ Thurston, geniunely the most appealling car toyota will have launched in fifteen years, as to using the subaru drive train, toyota part own subaru these components are know to work well and vw,audi,porsche,seat,skoda have been swapping massive amounts of parts for years. Also maybe if you ever actually owned an ae86 you would know what the appeal of this car actually is rather than most cars you buy know with all sorts of driver aids

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Qj, wrote

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03:00pm on 9 January 2012
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Haha all you people are so stupid. This is one of the best designed cars of the decade. They have not been working on it for 10 years for nothing. And for you idiots who is just concerned with power, they are working on a supercharged version as well. By the way the car only weighs as much as a Mazda MX5, just wait for the car to come out I'm sure all your stupid comments will change.

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Brian, wrote

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02:36pm on 9 January 2012
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Agree that 147Kw isn't really great, but slap on a supercharger, and with the glorious Subaru flat-four exhaust burble, it's a pretty combo (and don't worry about the English, Grep, he got the message across).

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Thurston Manuel, wrote

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02:06pm on 9 January 2012
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So it’s a knock off Subaru with a logo from Toyota in a cheap version of a roadster based on a 2000 GT… Toyota models from the 80's have character, history and lots of fun stories. Subaru boxer engine is a Legacy to Subaru, l don’t know what the engineers where thinking trying to bring them together with a thrill of the 80's in the 21st century, you just can't reinvent a car's persona. This "Toybaru or Subaota " is a car stuck in an identity crisis.

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Anonymous, wrote

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01:47pm on 9 January 2012
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The article is a big suck-up to Toyota. Let's face it; 147kw's is not enough for a hot hatch type of car these days and the buyers will vote with their wallets. A golf 5 GTi kicks out that much power and having to choose between the two i would much rather buy the second-hand GTi than this car. Toyota have lost the plot and don't seem to know how to safe themselves.

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madhir, wrote

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01:27pm on 9 January 2012
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Looks good. Has great potential. Can't wait to test drive one.

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Pauldurbs, wrote

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01:20pm on 9 January 2012
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My fortuner has more power than that

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Rob Pienaar, wrote

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01:11pm on 9 January 2012
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What an uninformed comment. I would also wish to remain anonymous if I had made such a silly statement. 147kw is not bad - really depends on the power to weight ratio though doesn't it? Or is that also an old-fashioned concept that those "recently qualified drivers" won't understand? More spec's and a price would have been useful though.

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Grep, wrote

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11:28am on 9 January 2012
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This article is badly written. Forgivable only if John Simister's first language ISNT english.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:12am on 9 January 2012
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147kw no thank you, thats so 80's

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