The Toyota GT86 matters because it is quintessentially a car designed to appeal to the common man (and, of course, to the common woman). Although it may not be bargain basement cheap, it is nevertheless affordable compared with many of the cars we drive. And compared with most bona fide sports cars it is nothing less than the bargain of the century.
It is in other words not merely another exotic, esoteric, expensive machine, designed only for the very wealthy to enjoy. It costs just £24,995 – about the same as a well-specified family hatchback – has just 197bhp – ditto – yet in reality can deliver a driving experience that’s up there beside the very best.
From the way its steers to the way it stops, and even more so the way it slices so cleanly into and out of corners, the GT86 is every inch as much fun to drive as a Porsche costing four times as much. You emerge from its neatly designed cabin wearing just as big a smile as you would do having just driven a Maserati.
In its way, the GT86 is probably MORE invigorating to drive than its vastly pricier competition because you don’t expect so much from it in the first place. It’s like New Year’s Eve syndrome, that one night of the year from which expect so very much, yet all too often get so very little. In that context, the GT86 is like a chance meeting with friends that just seems to work somehow; such rare occasions are often the ones you remember most fondly.
What’s also important is that this car emanates not from a small British sports car company, or even from a manufacturer such as Porsche, but Toyota. All conquering, all powerful Toyota.
That a business as vast and profitable as this has produced a machine as nimble and clear focused as the GT86 is, whichever way you look at it, pretty extraordinary. That it has done so while collaborating with a rival company, ie Subaru, is even more unusual in this day and age.
Let’s hope both of them pave the way for a simpler, cheaper, less complex breed of car for the future – one that most of us, and not just the very well off, can enjoy. Think of it as the perfect antithesis of the Bugatti Veyron that ends up sitting in an air-conditioned museum, never having turned a wheel, being glimpsed at just occasionally, by invitation only from its anonymous owner. Now do you see why this car really means something?