Road Test: 2012 Toyota GT86

Road Test: 2012 Toyota GT86

Toyota has a wide model range, but one thing has been missing recently, a sports car. This is a bit of a shame as Toyota’s history includes many great sport models, like 2000GT, AE86 and Celica. Now the wait is finally over and the list continues with the new GT86. Jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru, the new sports car is known as Toyota GT86 in Europe, Toyota 86 in Japan, Scion FR-S in USA, while the Subaru’s version is named BRZ. Comparing to the other cars in the Toyota’s model range, this new driver-oriented vehicle is a bold move for Toyota. GT86 returns to Toyota’s sporting roots with the combination of a front-mounted, naturally aspirated, free-revving petrol engine, rear-wheel drive and a compact body.

Weight saving has been one of the main themes in the development of the GT86. It was decided that the key to minimising weight was to maximise the use of specialised, exclusive parts. For instance, GT86 has a model-specific fuel tank which has a particularly unusual shape in order to fit the space available. The bonnet is fabricated in sheet aluminium. For the correct body rigidity, high tensile steel has been adopted for areas such as the roof side rails, front header and centre pillar reinforcement. Hot-pressed steel is used for the roof centre reinforcement, while the form of the roof gives extra torsional stiffness to the structure, which makes it possible to be fabricated in steel just 0.65 mm thick. With weight saving measures have been successful as the weight of the GT86 is just 1,239 kilograms.

In addition to the lightweight design, low centre of gravity and excellent weight distribution were other focus points of the development. Both the powertrain and driving position have been set as low and as far as possible towards the centre of the vehicle to optimise balance, giving the GT86 an ideal, 53:47 weight distribution. The GT86 has the lowest driver hip-point of any Toyota production vehicle, just 400mm, while the car’s centre of gravity is just 460mm. With the rear-wheel drive, quick steering and nicely set-up chassis, the GT86 provides excellent driving dynamics. All this makes the new GT86 exceptionally fun car to drive.

The engine is based on the Subaru’s newly developed, horizontally opposed, 1998cc, four-cylinder boxer engine that has been fitted with Toyota’s D-4S technology. With separate twin injectors for both direct and port injection, D-4S performs both high-pressure direct injection into the cylinder and conventional intake port injection, or direct cylinder injection only, in accordance with engine speed. Intake air and fuel are mixed evenly at all engine speed ranges to increase throttle response.

Naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine might sound a bit boring choice for a sports car, but in a lightweight body, it is surprisingly sufficient. The engine produces 200 horsepower and 205 Newton metres of torque. With the six-speed manual transmission, GT86 can accelerate from zero to hundred km/h in 7,6 seconds. So the performance is actually quite good, but the engine needs lots of revs to prove it. All 200 horsepower come to play at 7000rpm. If a quick sprint time is important to you, then GT86 might be a bit of a disappointment, as it is not the easiest car to get a fast sprint time. But what the GT86 is missing in the top performance, it provides twice as much in driving dynamics. Not many cars are this enjoyable to drive, not even if they have twice as much power under the hood. What makes the difference, is that with the GT86, you don’t always need to push the throttle to the floor to enjoy it. You don’t need a race track or a mile long straight just to see how fast it goes, curvy road is all you need with this car, because it gives you the feeling that you are really driving the car and controlling everything it does. GT86 is also available with the automatic transmission, but the manual is absolutely the right choice for this car.

Toyota GT86 is not very comfortable, nor it is not very usable when you’re going grocery shopping with your children. You can use it as a daily driver, but this is not what this car is built for. Its main focus is driving enjoyment and that provides lots of. I believe people are going to have different opinions about this new car. There will be those who think that it needs more power. But those who understand its core values, are going to love it.



  • Petrol
  • 4-cylinder
  • 1998cc


  • 147 kW (200 hp) / 7000rpm


  • 205 Nm / 6400-6600rpm


  • 6-speed manual
  • RWD

0-100km/h / 0-62mph

  • 7.6 seconds

Top speed

  • 226 km/h

Fuel consumption

  • 7.8 l/100km

CO2 emissions

  • 181 g/km