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The Top Gear car review:Toyota GT86
What is it like on the road?
The GT86 is a fantastic little coupe. Light on its feet, eager to change direction, it also rides beautifully and has delicious brakes. The off-beat 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, especially with the smaller, neater steering wheel of the facelift.
While an MX-5 is forgiving, with lots of body-roll before it starts to move around, the GT86 is a level up, with slightly snappier reactions and a need to be a bit more on your game. But it’s still a relatively friendly introduction to rear-wheel-drive sports cars.
You need to be smooth to get the best out of the GT86, and if you’re not, it will frustrate. But for us, one thing connects the very best drivers’ cars on sale: they all make you try to be a better driver. The more commitment you put into driving them, the more they come alive, so you focus on upping your game to allow the car to up its own. Caterham 7, Porsche 911, Nissan GT-R… and this little Toyota. They all sharpen up as you do. It’s an addictive relationship to get into.
Even with its sub-hot hatch levels of power. The GT86 launched in the greatest Japanese tradition of being a base car, one you buy relatively cheaply and then modify yourself. Indeed, it’s only a short online search before you’ll find videos of 1,000bhp-plus cars with an utter disregard for tyres.
While those are obviously a touch extreme, it shows that this might not be a car you merely lease for a couple of years and move on from – here’s a car that’ll take a little while to master, and one you can continually modify once you feel you’re getting on top of it. There’s longevity here.