What is it?
An automatic version of the new Toyota GT86 coupé. It’s available as a £1500 option over the standard six-speed manual gearbox. Installing an automatic in a car that’s all about the driving may seem odd, but this paddle-shifter exchanges ratios in a fifth of a second, and synchs with engine management that flaunts rev-matching blips during downshifts.
What is it like?
On tight, twisting roads you’ll struggle to match the speed of the auto’s gearshifts aboard the manual. And though the flat-four loses some urge to the torque converter, it unexpectedly returns superior economy and emission figures superior to the manual’s.
The reasons for this oddity emerge as you shift from third to fourth, a fast-sinking tacho needle proof of this auto’s wide spaced upper ratios. Because the ‘box is hooked to an engine delivering less-than-generous torque – and late in the day – the result is a sports car that’s more swift than rapid.
That’s a bit of a disappointment from this otherwise painstakingly polished driving tool, the GT 86’s dynamic repertoire hugely accomplished and better still, hugely entertaining too.
That applies on road and track, the Toyota’s ride pliant enough to leave its supremely able chassis untroubled by lumps and bumps, its fine balance, faithful turn-in, decent roll control and precision steering preserved intact.
That suppleness yields a drive that rarely turns sharp-edged or nervous, and were it not for the sometimes unnaturally low gears you must select to get the best from the flat-four, fluently satisfying. And riotous too, if you put in the work. Which requires extracting the maximum from a sometimes strained and curiously unwarbly Subaru motor as you paddle towards the torque’s distant 6400rpm sweet spot.
Should I buy one?
This engine needs more low-rev thrust, and the auto some reshuffled upper ratios to make a serious alternative to the manual GT 86. But even in this flawed form the Toyota GT 86 produces a beguilingly engaging drive.
Toyota GT 86 automatic
Price: £26,495; 0-62mph: 8.4sec; Top speed: 130mph; Economy: 39.8mpg; Co2: 164g/km; Kerb weight 1242kg; Engine: Horizontally opposed four cylinder, 1998cc; Power: 197bhp at 7000rpm; Torque: 147lb ft at 6400-6600rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd automatic