• The stated criteria for the GT86 read like a purist's manifesto: rear-drive, no turbo, ordinary tyres
  • Raked headlights help define a taut front end
  • Bespoke badges are found on both front wings
  • Spoiler has canard fins at each end
  • Rear passengers only get tiny portholes to look out of
  • Driving position is nigh-on perfect and there is sufficient room for all but the extremely tall
  • Rear space is modest and will suffice for children and adults over short trips
  • Toyota rattled through five prototypes before nailing the six-speed manual transmission
  • Boot isn't overly generous at 243 litres, but that's almost 100 litres more than an MX-5's
  • A boxer configuration helps to keep the engine weight low and nearer to the middle of the car
  • Make no mistake: the GT86's performance is worth working for
  • It rides comfortably and is quick enough for B-road overtaking
  • Its chassis lets you take liberties that you wouldn't imagine taking in other cars
  • GT86 is a wickedly poised sports car with terrifically communicative steering
  • The GT86 is a gem, and we adore it

All it takes is 50 metres – a jaunt out of a car park, just a short roll – to know that you’re in the presence of an exceptionally well sorted piece of kit with the Toyota GT86.

From the lowest of speeds, the GT86 rolls with a controlled comfort allowed by 215/45-section tyres and fine damping of its body. It steers with slickness, total linear accuracy and fine weighting. 

Matt Prior

Road test editor
From the lowest of speeds, the car rolls with a controlled comfort

They all combine to make the GT86, ironically, one of the more relaxing sports cars to drive.

Because everything happens as you expect, and each control responds just so to each input you make, it’s an extremely amiable companion, despite cabin noise levels that are much higher than average (forgivably, we suspect, because of a weight-saving reduction in sound proofing).

However, the really impressive stuff comes when you ask more questions of the chassis. During the GT86’s time with us, texts from testers telling the rest of us that they were “going to be late; taking the scenic route” became commonplace. The GT86’s slickness of steering, tightness of chassis control and general love of corners wowed us all.

Key to it are the modest tyres. That 215/45 R17 Michelin Primacys leave the GT86 looking under-tyred is a sign of the times. Yet at the track, the GT86 was still capable of holding 0.99g through corners on the dry handling circuit, on a steady throttle.

The fun comes on less steady throttle openings, mind you. Lean on the brakes on the way into a bend, get busier with the right pedal mid-corner, and the GT86 displays a willingness to adjust its line that makes every quiet roundabout a joy.

And therein lies the Toyota GT86’s real brilliance. It is at once poised, precise and agile yet also willing to indulge its driver with oversteer. The choice is yours. Every corner is a blank page, and the cars that give their drivers such options are rare things indeed.

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