DRIFTERS, TOFU DELIVERY boys and fans of low-slung sportiness rejoice!
Toyota’s 86 made a noisy, tyre-screeching debut on our shores today at the Changi Aviation Centre, where we got our mitts on the wheel for a brief spin.
First, the basic facts: you can have your 86 in one of two trim levels, and the promise of more to come thanks to an extensive catalogue of TRD goodies.
The basic 86 S models costs $183,988 with COE, whether you want an auto or manual, either of which has six speeds.
It gets climate control, front foggies, a tasty rear spoiler, seven airbags and figure-hugging bucket seats.
If you can find another $10,000 you can take home the GS model, which adds automatic HID headlamps, keyless entry and starting, cruise control, a digital speedo and paddle-shifters for the auto.
All versions get powered by 2.0 litres’ worth of flat-four thump. The car’s assistant chief engineer, Yoshinori Sasaki, whispered to us that the engine being worked on for the car’s Subaru BRZ mechanical sister lacked low-end grunt, so Toyota’s boffins grafted on direct-injection D4-S cylinder heads. Result? 200bhp at 7,000rpm and 205Nm of torque at a dizzying 6,600rpm.
It’s lighter than 1.3 tonnes, and in auto form the 86 will hit 100km/h in 8.2 seconds. Change gears yourself and that drops to 7.6 seconds.
More importantly, the manual gives you more direct access to the engine’s power, making it that bit easier to wag the car’s tail. It’s a lovely gearbox too, with crisp, ultra-short shifts and a light, easy clutch. Our money’s definitely on that one.
Other early impressions? The car sits low, and so do you. Apparently the passenger hip point is just 40cm above the tarmac (translation: you can open a door and stub a ciggy out onto the road), which enhances the sensation of speed.
It’s balanced and super tidy through fast direction changes, too, and the small steering wheel (actually, Toyota’s smallest ever) means your arms flick instead of twirl.
If you love driving you’ll definitely want one, especially if you agree with the car’s back-to-basics approach to delivering the jollies.
Sasaki-san says that when the 86 was conceived, the affordable Japanese sportscar had disappeared from the scene, replaced by cars with big power, big tyres, all-wheel drive and a big pricetag.
The 86 – and Subaru’s BRZ – are the riposte. Oh, and if you’re wondering how to choose between the two, Sasaki says there’s a slight difference in set-up between them: the Toyota’s front suspension is a little softer, while the rear is a tad harder, which should result in a more oversteery car.
“You might not feel the difference on the street, it’s maybe more for the track,” he grins. “But it’s there.”