Toyota launches tweaked 86, but is it better?

WATCH: Toyota works driver Leeroy Poulter compares the old vs new 86

I’ve always thought the Toyota 86 is a car that I could own, personally . A car I could drive to the office daily and on the way home have fun with, at relatively safe speeds. Thanks to the “over tyred” nature of most modern cars, really handling dynamics are out of reach of even the most skill driver, at least on a public road.  Handling starts when the grip ends, and with skinny tyres and even more front grip, the 2017 86 takes fun driving and engaging handling to a level that few other manufacturers dare.

Inspired by Toyota’s fine sports car heritage and models such as the 2000GT and AE86 Corolla, the 86 has equally taken on the role of a torchbearer for Toyota’s mission to build cars that are genuinely more engaging and rewarding to drive. It’s a direction promoted from the top by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who declared that “if it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car”.

Adhering to the classic sports car template in being compact, lightweight, having a low centre of gravity and possessing a front engine/rear-wheel drive configuration, the 86 is all that and so much more. The powertrain likewise broke new ground, in adopting a high-revving 2.0-litre, naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed “boxer” four-cylinder engine, produced by Subaru and equipped with Toyota’s D-4S direct fuel injection.

Driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, the 1,998cc 16-valve DOHC unit produces a maximum 147kW at 7,000rpm and 205Nm of torque between 6,400 and 6,600rpm. 0 to 100km/h acceleration can be achieved in 7.6 seconds with manual transmission, 8.2 seconds for the automatic.

In 2017 Toyota have made many small changes such as tweaked suspension, revised aero and higher body rigidity. The new “Track Mode” now features minimum VSC intervention when engaged allowing drivers to explore 86’s limits safely.

Inside the 86 now has a smaller diameter steering wheel, (personally I thought the old one was small enough) and even the interior trim now lends itself to a more sporty and pedigreed feel.

The 2017 Toyota 86 starts at R449 600 and still remains the choice for purists, even if you won’t be winning any drag races.


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