2023 Toyota GR86 Manual Review: Generation 86

Ben Chia

Driving Experience

The essence of the GR86 though is how it drives, and in that respect, it lives up to the reputation of its predecessors, and then some. The first obvious delight is that it is a manual, which in itself is quite a rarity these days. There is also an automatic variant available, but purists know that there is simply no replacement for self-shifting.

It’s a lovely setup too. The clutch’s biting point is a tad high, but it’s not unmanageable, and you get used to it very quickly. The gear shifter moves with a nice mix of chunkiness and precision, and it doesn’t take long before it feels second nature to row your own gears in this car. It certainly comes across as a lot more user friendly than the previous model, which had a somewhat heavier clutch and a gear shift action that felt rather industrial, and made gear shifting seem like hard work.

The other major improvement over the old car is what lies under the hood, and Toyota has now addressed criticism about the previous model’s perceived lack of grunt. The car now features a 2.4-litre inline four boxer engine jointly developed with Subaru (but still naturally aspirated), which pumps out 228hp and 250Nm of torque, up from 200hp and 205Nm previously. 

More importantly, the peak torque also now comes in lower down the rev band, at 3,700rpm instead of 6,400rpm before. The result is a car that feels much more drivable on a daily basis, and doesn’t require you to rev the nuts off the engine in order to get some meaningful forward movement.

Those elements alone would ordinarily make the GR86 a standout performer, but the real sparkle and joy of the car lies in the way it handles. The car cuts through the corners with some remarkable poise and excellent balance, thanks to the light weight and low centre of gravity as mentioned earlier. The steering is sharp and direct, offering plenty of engagement and communication, and you never get the sense of feeling detached or insulated from the road.

At the same time, the car will readily flick its tail out if you know what you’re doing. We don’t recommend doing this on public roads, but if you find yourself on a track or in a closed and secure environment, the electronic driving aids can be switched off at a mere touch of a button, turning the GR86 into a drift machine and delivering copious amounts of sideways action.

But whether you’re aiming to be a drift king, or simply want something enjoyable to drive everyday, the GR86 is unquestionably one of the most entertaining driver’s car you can buy right now.

When Bunta Fujiwara gives you the cup…

Page 4: I’m sold! How much is it?

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Coupe gr86 sports sports car Toyota

About the Author

Ben Chia

CarBuyer's senior staff writer went out to explore the Great Big World, including a stint working in China (despite his limited Mandarin). Now he's back, ready to foist upon you his takes on everything good and wonderful about the automotive world. Follow Ben on Instagram @carbuyer.ben

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