What’s it like?
But what you might not realise is how perfectly these elements gel to deliver a driving experience that is addictive, to put it mildly. Because, after all, nothing can prepare you for just how pure the GT86 is to drive; how sweetly it steers, how well balanced its chassis is near the limit, how crisply its brakes respond, or how incisive it feels when snapping from one direction to another.
Not that the GT86 is in any way vicious or aggressive in its reactions. Quite the opposite, in fact, and that’s a feeling that arrives the moment you climb aboard – and discover a cabin that’s been tailored almost exclusively towards the driver. The driving position is nigh-on perfect, the seat, wheel, dials, pedals and gearlever being so intuitively located that it takes but seconds to feel right at home in the GT86.
Press the button to fire it up and, instantly, you’re greeted by the inimitable thrum of that boxer engine, which responds beautifully to a ‘wap’ on the throttle. Select first and the lever moves with a mechanical precision that’s rare, if not unique in a production Toyota, and as you move away you become aware that the ride is firm but controlled – with just the right amount of compliance; not too stiff but not too soft. And even at 20mph you can tell that the steering feels rather delicious, too.
The first surprise comes when you open the throttle fully to discover that, while reasonable, the amount of acceleration on offer isn’t actually that startling. Toyota claims a fairly modest 0-62mph time of 7.7sec with a top speed of just 137mph. The second surprise arrives when you realise that this matters not one iota, because the moment you aim the GT 86 at some corners, the chassis comes alive, the penny drops and the full significance of what Toyota has achieved with this car becomes apparent.
And at that precise moment, you may even begin to believe that the car you are sitting in could be one of the most important machines of the past 10 years. Because on one level the GT 86 is simply a great little car to drive, one with such a fantastic level of chassis composure that it actually encourages the driver to play around with it where circumstances permit. And that’s a bright enough realisation in itself.
Should I buy one?
But on another level, the GT86 represents something rather more than the sum of its parts. In a way, it represents the future as far as the ordinary car enthusiast is concerned. It’s that good. And the fact that it’ll cost just £24,995 when it goes on sale in June is even more reason to celebrate.
Be in no doubt, the GT86 is a true game-changer for Toyota. Let’s at least hope that one or two more manufacturers follow suit.
Price: £24,995; 0-62mph: 7.7sec; Top speed: 137mph; Economy: 40.9mpg (combined); CO2: 160g/km; Kerb weight: 1220kg; Engine type: 4 cyls, horizontally opposed, 1998cc, petrol; Installation: Longitudinal, front, RWD; Power: 197bhp at 7000rpm; Torque: 151lb ft at 6600rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual; Wheels: 7jx17in, alloy; Tyres: 215/45 ZR17