Prueba de conducción: The Toyota GR 86 is a sports car survivor

It’s the latest version of a model that was first launched in 2013 como el Scion FR-S and became the Toyota 86 en 2017 when the Scion brand was discontinued.

(Toyota)

It’s never been a big seller, but has persevered in part because Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is a performance car fanatic who understands the value of having cars like it and the rebooted GR Supra in the lineup.

Aside from the Subaru BRZ that it shares its chassis with and the Mazda MX-5 Miata, there really aren’t any true affordable sports cars like it left.

The GR is a reference to Toyota’s motorsports arm, Gazoo Racing, which is coming off of its fourth-straight 24 Horas de Le Mans ganar, and is a clear signal that the car has been taken up a notch.

Like the BRZ, the GR 86 isn’t close to an all-new vehicle, but has received significant modifications that go beyond its mild exterior redesign.

The body structure has been strengthened with additional cross members and supports to add rigidity and the suspension retuned to improve the ride quality and handling, with an emphasis on the latter.

The engine is a Subaru 2.4-liter flat-four.

The engine is a Subaru 2.4-liter flat-four. (Toyota)

Just as important is the switch from a 2.0-liter to 2.4-liter flat-four-cylinder engine, which increases power from 205 hp to 228 hp and torque from 155 lb-ft to 184 lb-ft. The numbers may not seem that much bigger, but represent significant percentage jumps in a car that weighs just over 2,800 libras.

Power goes to the rear wheels through either a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic with paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel.

(Toyota)

Inside, there’s an all-new dashboard with a digital display and updated infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

Automatic transmission-equipped cars get a suite of electronic driver safety aids that includes automatic emergency brakes, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

The base car has different wheels and body extensions.

The base car has different wheels and body extensions. (Toyota)

Toyota says the GR 86 will have a starting price below $ 30,000 when it goes on sale this November and will be offered in Base and Premium trims.

Premium cars can be identified by their duckbill spoiler, Alcantara and leather upholstery, high-end audio system and wheels upsized from 17 inches to 18 inches and wrapped in high performance Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.

The Premium model can be identified by its duckbill spoiler.

The Premium model can be identified by its duckbill spoiler. (Toyota)

Since there’s really no competitive set to pit the GR 86 en contra, Toyota brought a 2021 86 to the Monticello Motor Club track to use as a benchmark for comparison.

The outgoing model is a tremendously fun car, but the GR 86 fills in the gaps with noticeably more kick and a wider power band. Its 0-60 mph acceleration time of 6.1 seconds with the stick shift is about a second quicker than the old car, but it’s more responsive at any speed.

Ride harshness is significantly reduced and the handling is sharper than before, which is a nice combination if you can pull it off. The Base cars offer a slip-and-slide kind of fun on their run of the mill Michelin Primacy tires, but lose too much grip after a few laps of a long, fast track like Monticello’s, while the Premium holds its line like a slot car all day.

The rear seats are pint-size.

The rear seats are pint-size. (Toyota)

You can still get the rear end to step out with a heavy foot on the accelerator, but the quick steering makes it easy to control. If you leave on the traction management system on it steps in to save the day way before you get into trouble. The position of the pedals makes heel-and-toe shifting a breeze in manual transmission cars and the automatic is smart enough to not be a drag.

Por supuesto, even the extra power still won’t be enough for some and the GR 86 will surely prove to be a popular car for the tuner crowd, which has built 86s with 1,000 hp and more.

As far as surviving a day at the track is concerned, 228 hp is fine by me.

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2022 Toyota GR 86

Base Price: $ 30,000 est.

Type: 2-door, 4-pasenger rear-wheel-drive coupe

Engine: 2.4-liter flat-four-cylinder

Energía: 228 hp, 184 lb-ft torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual or automatic

MPG (Man/Auto): 19/20 city, 21/24 hwy

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