Toyota GT86 meets the rivals
Welcome to part one of Top Gear Speed Week - can Toyota's new coupe live up to the hype?
Posted: 24 Aug 2012
This makes it an entirely acceptable road car, but here, in Stig’s personal playpen of petrol and power, more suspension control might help tame the torque-steer. Because the ST does suffer from it. Eschewing the mechanical limited-slip diff and clever (but expensive) front strut design sported by the VXR, the ST settles for ‘simple’ electronic control. It’s OK, but not good enough to stop the steering wheel wriggling in your hands like a tickled eel.
This would matter more were the Focus not such a blast to punt around. There are two things it does particularly amusingly: accelerate and corner. Honestly, its chassis balance is as good as some of the mid-engined cars. Hurl it into a corner – Chicago is best – lift off and it’ll do the full sideways Sweeney stuff. And even if you leave the traction alone, there’s still entertainment to be had. This is a car that wants you to have fun and goes out of its way to deliver it.
We all know that turbos (while great for power and emissions) leach character out of an engine. Yet here’s one – an ordinary 2.0-litre 4cyl seemingly – that zings. It’s quick, too: 29bhp and 45lb ft down on the Astra? It doesn’t feel like that – it’s the ST that seems to have the brawnier mid-range pick-up.