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...
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.
Unlike the BRZ, the GT86 still comes in at £24,995. Equipment levels are pretty much identical too: the standard trim has two options, sat nav and an automatic gearbox, the latter of which we’d of course avoid. All Subaru offers extra is leather seats, so we’d stick with this one. New for 2013 was the TRD: styling kit and rorty exhaust but no more power, for a ludicrous £31,610. Pointless.