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What a machine this is: we’re pretty sure you don’t need telling about its looks as anyone can see how attractive it is. We don’t think you’ll need telling about its interior either – spend just ten seconds in here and you know you are sat in something very special. The GT86 has raised the bar in modern sports cars and set a big standard for others to follow, and you can get yours with one of our Toyota GT86 contract hire options.
If you thought involving affordable sportscars belonged back in history, then you’ll find Toyota’s GT86 a welcome breath of fresh air. The revised version isn’t any faster than the original but the suspension’s stiffer, the steering’s sharper and it’s been made a little smarter, both inside and out.
Otherwise, things are as before. Developed and desired by enthusiasts, the GT86 remains a benchmark in the compact coupe sector, a master class in driving dynamics.
On the move GT86 regulars will note the sharper steering and firmer suspension of the revised model, plus the selectable ‘Track’ mode that’s been added, allowing the driver to better tap into the car’s full potential by adjusting the level of stability and traction control. Otherwise, things are much as before, so you get the same 197bhp 2. 0-litre normally aspirated engine with a modest 205Nm torque figure necessitating frequent use of the slick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, a paddleshift auto is optional.
You sit low down, grasping the smallest steering wheel Toyota fits to any production car, one positioned nicely upright, so you can flick easily through the corners from lock to lock without any trouble. We should also talk about traction and grip. There’s not a lot – and you wouldn’t expect there to be given that, quite intentionally, the engineers have specified this car to run on essentially the same skinny tyres as a feeble Toyota Prius. This won’t do much for your laptimes on a track day at Silverstone, but it’s a brilliant recipe for fun on every deserted roundabout - especially in the wet, where powerslides are yours for the asking. Brilliant.
At first glance, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. The styling, which hasn’t changed much with the revised model, remains smart but hardly show-stopping, with classic front engine, rear drive proportions delivering a long bonnet and a rear-set cabin. It’s all little changed from the prototype that preceded this model’s original launch, the FT-86 show car that Toyota unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show twelve months before production started at Subaru’s Gunma plant in Japan.
There, GT86 models roll down the same production lines as their all-but-identical Subaru BRZ counterparts, the only real visual difference between the two cars being the trapezoidal front grille section. That’s part of a front end that features a sharper look with this revised model, with smarter headlight units that create a stronger horizontal emphasis.
In this improved model, the instrument panel has a one-piece design with a black finish and slicker carbon-fibre-pattern detailing. It’s all part of an enhanced cockpit that’s been revised to create what Toyota hopes is a more ‘connected feel’ between driver and car. Central to this is the smarter three-spoke steering wheel, the smallest yet designed for a production Toyota with a cross-section apparently precision-calculated to provide the best possible grip and feel.
A new 4. 2-inch TFT multi-information display is included in the instrument binnacle’s triple-dial arrangement, with a switchable menu that provides the usual journey distance and fuel economy information, plus more performance-focused data, such as power and torque curves, a stopwatch and a G-force monitor.
It’s a 2+2, so you get the tiny rear seats that motoring journalists without small children usually moan about but we find really useful, if only for slinging your jacket on to.
And a reasonably-sized boot – or at least it is once you fold those back seats down to extend the standard 243-litre capacity to a space so usable that it’ll accommodate a trolley jack and four replacement wheels and tyres. Ideal for trackday types then.
In summary, the GT86 remains a sportscar to savour, one of those rare machines that involves you so much that you don't need to be travelling at three figure speeds to have fantastic fun. Factor in the affordable running costs and high residuals and it becomes a very tempting proposition indeed. In years to come, we think, it’ll be seen as a landmark car for Toyota.