It was almost 10 years ago that I first encountered the GT86, at a soaking wet test track somewhere outside Tokyo towards the end of 2011. And I simply couldn’t believe it. Was Toyota, then the largest car manufacturer in the world, really going to put on a sale a car that oversteered – absolutely everywhere? It seemed it was.
One of my fondest memories of that day was standing in the pits and waiting for my colleagues to come back in, then hearing them laugh and laugh and laugh.
But so, too, did I wonder a bit. Was it the conditions? Was it the track surface? Did Toyota sneakily fit bullet train rails in place of rear roll bars, just to keep the journos amused? Apparently not.
My next encounter was in the UK, on public roads on a warm and sunny day. And it still oversteered everywhere, but at very modest speeds and childishly easy to control. And I can remember thinking that if I owned one, it would enable me to go sideways every single day of my working life. As sales pitches go, there were few more powerful than that. At least to me.
I was also there when it won our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car event and I was there when we examined its tyres at the end of a day on track and discovered they were barely worn, despite its drivers spending most of their time on board watching the circuit through the side windows.
The novelty wore off slightly when I drove the Subaru BRZ, which was just that little bit better tied down, but I still admired to my boots the sheer chutzpah of Toyota setting up a standard production road car to behave like that. To me, it spoke of a passion for cars and enthusiasm for pure driving pleasure that’s rare in any company, let alone one so large and corporate as this. I just hope the next one has a similarly enlightened team behind it.