What is it?

It's our current favourite driver's car. But, great as it is, inevitably the Toyota GT86 will evolve during its production life. More power? Chief engineer Tetsuya Tada hints at a supercharged version, pointing out there's no room for a turbo because the flat-four engine sits too low.

Much more imminent, though, are the various options offered by Toyota Racing Developments (TRD), due in the UK early next year, and a possible harder-edged production GT86 with chassis and aerodynamics changes.

That's the dark blue car, unofficially called evolution, you see here, which we've sampled at the scenic ParcMotor track outside Barcelona. An orange TRD car, specced-up with some expensive chassis modifications, made an intriguing comparison.

In all, that TRD car had around £16,000-worth of kit including KYB dampers adjustable for ride height and damping force, a 15mm-power ride height on springs stiffened by 20 per cent, an extra carbonfibre front brace for the suspension towers, bigger brakes clamped by Brembo monobloc calipers, a four-tailpipe exhaust system, 225/40 Michelin Pilot Sports on 18in wheels and a racier interior with extra gauges and a concave-topped gearlever knob. Revised spoilers and valances finished the job.

Result? It sounds deeper, revs a little better, stops with firm-pedalled authority and goes round corners faster, with sharper steering and a flat, planted feel. Which may be what some owners will like, but the standard GT86's delightfully accessible progression from grip to drift has suffered. 

It's almost too good, and part of a GT86's point has been lost. In this form it's simply a very precise, very grippy sports coupé, and if you do get it out of shape it gives you less time to think about sorting it out.

What is it like?

On, then, to the future 'enhanced' GT86, a version which as yet has no specific name. Here, the changed parts are to full factory standard rather than that of the high-end aftermarket, and are less extreme. 

Again we have 18in wheels – these are BBS items – but while the rear Michelins are again 225/40, the fronts are 215/40. This is not specifically to alter the front/rear grip balance (although it does), but rather to conform to Toyota's factory standards for tyre-to-body clearance. Production cars will have bespoke Bridgestones or Dunlops.

Brakes and springs are standard, dampers are uprated Sachs items, and in place of the standard Torsen differential with a 4.1 final drive comes a mechanical clutch-type unit with a 4.3 ratio. A large rear wing dominates other aero enhancements, the whole package effective from just 30mph. 

A different TRD exhaust fluffs and pops on gearshifts, while an extra door-latch mechanism jams the door solidly against its body aperture to boost the bodyshell's torsional stiffness – a feature which would no doubt be useful in any future open-top GT86.

This GT86 feels quite similar to the TRD car, the test track's dry surface showing up little difference in the differential's behaviour while the softer suspension lets you feel better what the GT86 is doing as you explore the wide tyres' grip. 

The tail feels yet more nailed down than the TRD's but more trustworthy as it nibbles at the edge of grip. More of the standard car's character is retained here; you're just cornering more quickly.

Should I buy one?

The killer is the price: Tada reckons the changes should add just £800 to the build cost of a GT86, so if you think the standard GT86 is just too driftable on its Prius tyres, the answer is here.

Development continues with no launch date yet confirmed, but meanwhile Toyota GB will announce a standard-chassis, cosmetics-only TRD trim level early next year.

Whether or not a grippier GT86 is a good idea is debatable, of course. For my part I reached the highest test-track speed in the standard car, simply because it's so easy to drive on the limit. 

Give it more grip, and you'll need more talent to have the same fun.

John Simister 

Toyota GT86 evolution

Price na; 0-62mph 7.4sec (est); Top speed 140mph (est); Economy 35mpg (est); CO2 190g/km (est); Kerb weight 1275kg; Engine Flat-4cyls, 1998cc, petrol; Power 197bhp at 7000rpm; Torque 151lb ft at 6400-6600rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
18

I've not driven one, but it

1 year 23 weeks ago

I've not driven one, but it does make you wonder how much of the standard car's press love-in has been generated by the comedy tyres, and whether any decent rear wheel drive car would benefit from worse tyres - see Monkey's video on putting space saver tyres onto a C63 AMG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPh90yNX-mY

Less definitely seems to be

1 year 23 weeks ago

Less definitely seems to be more in the GT86's case.

Personally, I think the suspension "upgrades" are pointless until the more powerful engine comes along.

What we are now probably seeing is the hand over from the engineering to the marketing departments.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

What I would like to see is a

1 year 23 weeks ago

What I would like to see is a sporty model that, get this, costs less than the standard GT86. This would be provided by a stripped out minimal interior. That's it. Same power/wheels/tyres/suspension as standard, just less weight. Of course anyone could do that to their standard car but they will have already paid for the interior trim they are taking out. It's also difficult or expensive to remove a complete air-con system etc. But at factory build stage its free.

Manual windows would be good too.

 

 

Orangewheels wrote: I've not

1 year 23 weeks ago

Orangewheels wrote:

I've not driven one, but it does make you wonder how much of the standard car's press love-in has been generated by the comedy tyres, and whether any decent rear wheel drive car would benefit from worse tyres - see Monkey's video on putting space saver tyres onto a C63 AMG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPh90yNX-mY

Yes, and very much a road rather than track car and I don't relish meeting various sideways on Toyotas coming at me on a roundabout as the owner tries to recreate 'Fast & Furious - Tokyo' with the aid of some bicycle tyres.

Orangewheels wrote: I've not

1 year 23 weeks ago

Orangewheels wrote:

I've not driven one, but it does make you wonder how much of the standard car's press love-in has been generated by the comedy tyres

They aren't really comedy tyres. Most reviews have said it's slightly disappointingly too grippy and getting the back end out takes too much effort in a non-track scenario.

Nice ride but...

1 year 23 weeks ago

When Toyota bought the concept out it was a killer looking car. Now look at it - it's like a Celica from the 90's re-born. It might be an awesome car to drive, but pretty average to look at especially at the price. It's not unlike the MX5. Great car to drive, but would you want to be caught owning one or even driving one as a bloke? Plus that kit is real ugly. A better spend is on nice wheels & a lowering kit. Might go some way to start to look like the original then...

TRD is just wrong!

1 year 23 weeks ago

I was behind a white celica this morning for a little while, all decked out in body kit and ironing board rear spoiler and among the various stickers on the rear window was the proclamation it had turd thrown at it.

it looked very much like this in terms of err enhancements.... and having seen a GT86 in the flesh the other day I was impressed with its looks, but this just looks too rice racer

interior is the issue

1 year 23 weeks ago

what is putting me off from getting one is the interior it feels unfinished, you can tell it was meant to have an armrest considering where your elbow goes inside a cubby hole.

I am not sure if I will get one when its time for me to change from my RCZ but I am tempted by a rear drive car (just needs an interior I will be happy to drive in everyday)

Just a body kit!?

1 year 23 weeks ago

And engine mods would cost.............?,if i was going this far, i'd be adding a bit more power, 60bhp more would be enough.

Peter Cavellini.

Sandy wrote: What I would

1 year 23 weeks ago

Sandy wrote:

What I would like to see is a sporty model that, get this, costs less than the standard GT86. This would be provided by a stripped out minimal interior. That's it. Same power/wheels/tyres/suspension as standard, just less weight. Of course anyone could do that to their standard car but they will have already paid for the interior trim they are taking out. It's also difficult or expensive to remove a complete air-con system etc. But at factory build stage its free.

Manual windows would be good too.

Manual/crank windows are actually heavier than electrics.

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Our Verdict

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

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