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The Top Gear car review: Toyota GT 86

Editor’s choice
£22,295£29,305
9/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Proves Toyota does know how to do fun with a gloriously simple approach

Against: 

Will the simple cabin and cooking power output be lost on buyers?
Glorious return to form for Toyota's rear-drive coupe line

Find new & used cars

Our choice

Toyota

2.0 D-4S Primo 2dr

£22,295
N/A
36mpg
7.60s
200bhp
180g/km

What we say: 

The simplest and most exciting Toyota in years is also a real pleasure to drive

What is it?

Toyota’s chief engineer for the GT86 outlines three key elements that define his new creation: no turbo, no 4WD, narrow tyres. A quick lap time is not the priority from this sports car: rather, driver involvement is. The firm’s new rear-wheel drive sports car is here to prove that vehicles do not necessarily have to become ever faster, gripper and less socially acceptable.

The sibling to the Subaru BRZ, similarities are oh-so obvious. The differences are confined to the merest detail changes: a slightly different grille, alternative details within the headlight structure (the units are shared), different colours, alternative markings on the rev counter…don’t go looking for headline variations because you won’t find them. Does this matter? No. Simply see it as two ways of getting one of the best driver’s cars you can buy…

Driving

Toyota says the GT86 is dynamically identical to the Subaru in every way apart from spring and damper rate changes. Experience here in the UK reveals any variations to be minimal in the extreme - few will tell any difference at all. We may have detected a bit more softness and roll in the GT86, but it’s really hard to tell any significant contrasts between them. So, yes, like the BRZ, the GT86 is a fantastic little coupe. Light on its feet, eager to change direction, it also rides beautifully and has delicious brakes. The offbeat flat four engine is sweet and best of all, it’s joyfully well balanced when you turn off the stability control and have a bit of fun. Even the electric power steering is masterfully good.

On the inside

It’s all nice and simple in here, with low-set seats and a perfectly positioned steering wheel that nestles into your hands as naturally as the stubby, slick-shifting gearlever. The rev counter is positioned right in the middle of the dial pack, proudly showing its 7,400rpm red line, although there is also a nod to sophistication with the availability of colour touchscreen navigation in the centre of the dash. Just don’t go looking for the delicate finish of an Audi TT as that’s not what this car is about. Instead, it’s again about simplicity and focusing on the driver. Pride comes in the fundamentals, not the soft-touch details.

Owning

The GT86 range has become a lot cheaper for 2015 when Toyota realigned the model range. The new Primo entry-level car starts at £22,995: this car may lack some of the styling features boasted by other models, but we love its idealistic values. At the other emnd of the range, the special edition Giallo and bodykit-laden Aero are a bit too extreme: basic is best for the birlliant GT86.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
2.0 D-4S 2dr
7.6s 180g/km 36.2 200 £24,595
The cheapest
2.0 D-4S Primo 2dr
7.6s 180g/km 36.2 200 £22,295
The greenest
2.0 D-4S 2dr Auto
8.2s 164g/km 39.8 200 £25,760

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

9/10

Subaru BRZ

£22,090£26,260
The Subaru BRZ is hardly a wildcard but you may find yourself drawing straws to choose between them