Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
Just like when it was first launched, the Toyota 86 is a sports car for the enthusiast. It’s not tasked with filling a multitude of purposes, its only role is to deliver driving engagement at a price that’s attainable to the many, not the few.
With a naturally-aspirated engine at the front, rear-wheel drive and standard manual transmission, all the necessary elements are accounted for. Best of all, it comes at a reasonable price.
The entry-level 86 GT is priced from $31,440 plus on-road costs, not bad for a driver-focussed sports coupe. The flagship 86 GTS starts from $36,640 plus on-roads and peaks at $41,890 plus on-roads depending on what boxes are ticked. There’s plenty of choice to cover a broad spread of buyers.
Our tester is the 86 GTS Apollo Blue variant with a manual transmission, in this configuration buyers will need to stump up $39,950 plus on-road costs. Aside from the exclusive blue paint, additional kit includes 17-inch black alloy wheels, black exterior mirrors and a black rear spoiler.
Apollo Blue models also get the Dynamic Performance Pack as standard which includes Brembo brakes with red calipers and specially tuned Sachs performance dampers.
Standard equipment also includes keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, a rear-view camera, a 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, and an updated instrument cluster with a small digital screen.  
On the surface, the 86 GTS appears to have everything covered, however, there are some notable omissions such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The 86 also goes without modern safety technology such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert. In 2020, buyers should rightly expect all of these features to be offered as options at the very least.
Along with the annoyances caused by the absence of the latest safety and connectivity tech, buyers will notice the cabin is littered with hard plastics that designers have tried to disguise by adding some suede on the dash, and leather on the steering wheel and hand brake.
The star of the interior is the sharp-looking heated sports seats trimmed in a mix of leather and suede. They look and feel the part perfectly.
While there are seats in the rear, allowing someone to sit in them would constitute a human rights abuse. The 86 would technically be classified as a 2+2 but that is generous use of such terminology. They are effectively unusable to carry passengers, instead, they’re only helpful for additional luggage space.
The boot space is also tight at only 237L. Combined with the rear seat storage, there’s enough space to carry all you need for a weekend getaway. The biggest issue is loading the boot, the opening is slim meaning a delicate hand is needed to avoid knocking the paint.
Sports cars always present a packaging compromise or two for buyers wanting to deploy them as a daily driver. Where there is no room for compromise is the driving experience and pleasingly this is a fun car to drive.
The numbers won't blow you away, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine only develops 152kW of power and 212Nm of torque. The power is sent to the rear through a six-speed manual and mechanical limited-slip differential.
Enthusiasts wanting straight-line performance will struggle to get pumped over a 7.4 second sprint to 100km/h. You need to look beyond the numbers to find the gold.
The 86 offers enough performance to enjoy at legal speeds but you do need to work for it. The engine needs to be revved hard to extract its character. It will happily scream in an incredibly raspy manner as you give it a boot-full. Keeping the foot down also helps overcome the light torque delivery that afflicts the mid-range.
Driver’s can happily wring its neck thanks to a crisp throttle response, excellent shifting action and light clutch. The 86 responds to every input with precision but its talents are best exploited in the bends.
Find some corners and the rigid chassis and communicative steering show the best side of the 86. It’s beautifully controlled and can be enjoyed by drivers regardless of the speed of their reflexes. The balance afforded by the rear-wheel drive layout is lovely and gives a genuine point of difference over similarly priced hot hatches.
On rougher backroads, the Sachs dampers do a great job of ironing out the surface without jeopardising the car’s sporting intent.
Of course, there is a downside, the amount of road noise that infiltrates the cabin when cruising means this isn't a car for a quaint Sunday drive. It’s loud in a way that’s reminiscent of rabid footy fans during finals. Even with the volume pumped up, at 100km/h appreciating a podcast is near impossible.
We covered 596km during our test week and returned a consumption figure of 7.8L/100km. An excellent result given the high revs. Potential owners should note the 86 requires 98RON premium unleaded fuel.
Like all Toyota models, the ownership credentials are strong. The GTS Apollo Blue is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and capped-price service program.
Service intervals are set at nine months or 15,000km with the first four visits back to the dealer costing only $195 each.
The 86 offers enough performance, a tightly controlled body and excellent steering that reinforces everything we love about rear-wheel drive. To derive maximum smiles, the manual is a must. Anyone considering an automatic shouldn’t agree to terms until they’ve tested both.
While speed demons will scoff, the 86 is one of those rare cars that can be exploited without threatening your licence. As a sports car, the 86 does everything it says on the box. It blends all the classic sports car elements into an accessible package that doesn’t cost the earth to run.
2020 Toyota 86 GTS Apollo Blue Specifications
Price from $39,950 plus on-road costs Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder Boxer petrol Power 152kW @ 7000rpm Torque 212Nm @ 6400-6800rpm Transmission six-speed manual Performance 0-100km/h 7.4 seconds Combined Fuel Consumption 8.4L/100km Tank Capacity 50L Length 4240mm Width 1775mm Height 1320mm Wheelbase 2570mm Turning Circle 10.8m Kerb Weight 1258kg Service Intervals nine months/15,000km Warranty five year/unlimited kilometre