TG Speed Week: the Scotland Showdown
We’ve got two days in Scotland to reach a definitive verdict on our favourite performance car. Time to loch and load...
Posted: 31 Aug 2012
OM: OK, I do like speed, but only as a by-product of entertainment. Acceleration is fun, but the noise is as important as the kick in the back, and I'd rather spend 30 seconds wringing the GT86 up to speed than three seconds being pummelled by the McLaren. You have more time to enjoy it, you feel more part of the process and you don't put plod's nose out of joint so easily.
SP: The problem with the McLaren and M5 - and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the 911 - is that you have to hit some deeply antisocial speeds to find their limits. This is the only place in the UK to enjoy, er, ‘spirited driving' for more than a few seconds at a time, but even Scotland barely grazes their capabilities. The GT86 makes you feel like a driving god at 50mph.
OM: I do like the McLaren very much, but for half the price the Porsche does a better job in many ways. The Focus is in the bottom half of the grid for me, along with the Radical, though it grieves me to say it. It's too nervy, too flawed, too costly. My top three are 911, Exige and GT86. The 911's the one I want to live with most, the Exige is the one I want to drive most and the GT86 is the one I could actually afford.
SP: In a highly unscientific show of hands, our seven testers had the McLaren, 911 and Exige in a photo finish for second place, with the GT86 out in front. The Toyota isn't big, it isn't especially clever, but it's fun. Good, honest, affordable fun. The 911 and Exige are, despite my earlier whinges, both fantastic, but they're very slick examples of the formulas perfected by Lotus and Porsche over generations. The GT86 is a new, different recipe - or at least an old recipe car companies forgot about for the last decade or so.