Richard Bremner
10 May 2012

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

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Comments
7

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2 years 24 weeks ago

Some people are unable to drive manual cars, so this is probably the most fun they'll have without breaking the sound barrier!

I suspect its mainly aimed at

2 years 24 weeks ago

I suspect its mainly aimed at the American market, where manually changing gear is far too much like hard work. 

 

I wonder id a double cluch gearbot would have been better.

Some people are unable to drive manual cars

2 years 24 weeks ago

Fidji, my compliments on making a very valid point that often gets overlooked by enthusiasts who insist on manual cars. Yes, they are right about all the good things that manual transmission gives you, but some of us can't live with it for various reasons.

TBC

Oddly enough, you would have

2 years 24 weeks ago

Oddly enough, you would have thought that they would have fitted an auto box with more ratios to compensate for the lack of torque. Guess the bean counters won that arguement...........

Really?

2 years 23 weeks ago

When can we expect actual Autocar test-data from either the manual or auto? I've seen in various US mags a 0-60 of 6.4 ish for the manual. Are you really saying that the auto takes 2 seconds longer? 

 

Modern Autos are different to those of 10 years ago.

2 years 20 weeks ago

I've got an auto BMW 335i convertible with the F1 style paddles and it's fantastic.  I can cruise around gently, floor the accelerator for some instant go, maybe even drop a gear or two for serious shove.  Autos these days are better than those of 10 years ago.  Try one of the better ones for a few hours and see what you think.

Paddles, I used them a few times when I first got the car, now I hardly touch them.  If I was overtaking on single lane roads then I'd slip the gear stick to the left, into Sport, and then I might drop 1 gear on the paddles.  Since the gearbox is now in Sport mode it will hold 4,000 or 5,000 rpm for several seconds while I'm waiting for the right time to overtake. If after several seconds I've not floored the accelerator then the gearbox will change up a gear.

335i makes maximum torque from only 1,500rpm so it goes pretty well without dropping a gear.

Shame BMW 19" alloy wheels are so fragile when coupled to the run flat tyres.  Type "BMW Alloy" into google and the second search suggestion is "BMW Alloy wheel repair". Shows just how often people search for repairing BMW wheels globally that Google have it as the second result even when typing "BMW Alloy".

Toyota GT 86

2 years 16 weeks ago

The real problem with this car in my view is that in order to enjoy it you need to find some nice CLEAR twisty roads. Given the number of cars on the road this means you need to be able overtake other cars to access suitable gaps in the traffic. Since any old diesel hatch is going to be able stay ahead of this car on the straights, in practice, you won't be able to enjoy the bends because you'll always be stuck behind other cars when you arrive at the corners. In my opinion a 0-60 time of 6 seconds is the minimum performance required to be able dispatch other cars safely and manage your "track position" to enjoy some clear roads. I would love to have this car if it was faster but wouldn't consider it as it is.

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Our Verdict

This light, uncomplicated coupé promises so much. Can the Toyota GT86 deliver?

Driven this week