Johannesburg – Toyota has sharpened its 86 sports coupé for 2017 in the classic manner, with revised suspension and a stiffer bodyshell for more agile and precise handling, improved aerodynamics for smoother airflow and sharper looks, and new instrumentation and driving modes for extra driving fun, while leaving the 147kW/205Nm flat-four and rear-wheel drivetrain strictly alone.

It starts at the front with a lower nose, a wider, lower-set grille, a distinctive lower lip on the front bumper, a subtle new nose fin and new bi-LED headlights, with the indicators moved from the bumper to inside the headlight clusters, laid out as a row of orange LEDs underneath the daytime running lights on either side.

New tail-light clusters, now also with LED indicators, frame a deeper black rear moulding and diffuser section, while a wing-type spoiler with vertical end plates replaces the previous boot-lid spoiler.

Inside, there’s a new, smaller steering wheel, with satellite controls for the audio system and the new 10.7cm multifunction display. In addition to the usual trip data, this can now also display more performance driving-focused details such as a G-force monitor, power and torque curves, a stopwatch and lap times in sequence.

In a small but telling detail, the rev-counter has been reoriented so that the power peak at 7000rpm is now at 12 o’clock on the dial.

Toyota has also added a new Track mode to the existing three drive modes, raising the threshold on both traction control and vehicle stability control to let you get a lot more naughty before it intervenes.

New, all black, interior trim reduces light bounce, while the fabric trim on the standard model has been upgraded for better lateral support, and the High models get a revised trim in mixed leather and alcantara synthetic suede.

The body-shell has been stiffened with a thicker mounting bracket for the front suspension towers, thicker bracing for the transmission cross-member and more reinforcement in the rear wheel-arches with extra spot-welds, as well as thicker material in the centre and front of the rear panel.

All of which has made the body-shell significantly heavier, so the bonnet is now made of aluminium and the wings of thinner sheet steel to compensate.

The McPherson strut front suspension gets new springs that can flex as well as compress, as well as revised axis load geometry to reduce the difference in steering force between left and right.

The double-wishbone rear suspension also gets lighter springs and a stiffer anti-roll bar for better turn-in, while the Showa shock absorbers get new, low-friction sliding bushes and reducing damping rates all round.

PRICES

86 Standard – R449 600

86 High – R494 400

86 High AT – R519 400

These include a three year or 100 000km warranty and a four year or 60 000km service plan.

* IOL's senior motoring writer Jesse Adams will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the World's Longest Vehicle Drift with the new Toyota 86 next month.

The low-slung sportscar's lightweight chassis, rear-wheel drivetrain and relatively efficient two-litre engine are the ideal ingredients to challenge the existing record – which is currently held by German driver Harald Muller who slid sideways (in another 86) for a total distance of 141.126km in 2014.

Stay tuned for more details on the event.

IOL Motoring

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