2016 Toyota 86 Review
By James Whitbourn, with WhichCar staff
Priced From $29,990Information
What stands out?Expand Section
What might bug me?Expand Section
Paying more for fuel: The 86 requires expensive premium 98 petrol.
What body styles are there?Expand Section
The Toyota 86 drives its rear wheels, and it is classed as a sports car, lower priced.
What features does every Toyota 86 have?Expand Section
An AM/FM radio and CD audio system with a 6.1-inch colour touchscreen display. Bluetooth hands-free operation for phone calls and audio streaming.
An information display that presents data such as average fuel consumption.
Wheels made from an alloy of aluminium, and a tyre repair kit. A full-size alloy spare is available as a no-cost option.
A limited-slip differential, which inhibits wheelspin, improving handling and acceleration on low-grip road surfaces.
Seven airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; a curtain airbag on each side protecting the heads of front and rear occupants; and a knee protection airbag for the driver.
Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.
Every Toyota 86 carries a three-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?Expand Section
When paired with the six-speed automatic transmission, it uses 7.1 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).
It uses a bit more fuel with the six-speed manual gearbox, but in this form it is more fun to drive. And fun is what the 86 is all about.
What key features do I get if I spend more?Expand Section
You also get bright HID headlights, LED daytime running lights (which make the car more visible), leather and Alcantara seat trim, and front-seat heaters.
Wheels on the GTS are an inch bigger, at 17 inches, and are fitted with slightly wider, lower profile tyres.
Does any upgrade have a down side?Expand Section
Premium paint colours come at an extra cost of about $450. Nine colours are available and only one of them – Ignition Red – is standard at no extra cost.
How comfortable is the Toyota 86?Expand Section
Getting into the 86 is not quite as easy as it would be for a similar sized non-sporty car, because the seating position is a bit lower.
The front seats offer excellent side-support for cornering, and the major and minor controls are well sited. The steering column adjusts for tilt and reach, which lets you get the driving position just right.
The interior is well built, if not especially luxurious. Some of the plastics are hard, but the quality of the seat trim is good and the steering wheel and gear lever are nicely designed and finished. The instruments and centre touchscreen are attractively presented.
The Toyota 86 is reasonably quiet inside, with low levels of noise and vibration from the suspension and engine. The lower profile tyres worn by the GTS version make it less comfortable than the GT, but there isn’t much in it.
Because of the low seating position, forward vision is not as commanding as it is in a less sporty small car. As well, vision over the driver’s shoulders and to the rear is restricted due to the small side-rear and rear windows. The reversing camera helps address the parking difficulty this presents.
What about safety in a Toyota 86?Expand Section
(To see a list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)
You don’t see as far ahead from an 86 as you would in a taller passenger car, and vision to the rear is restricted, both of which present a small impediment to both occupant and pedestrian safety.
Automatic emergency braking is not offered in an 86.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Toyota 86 its maximum five stars for safety.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?Expand Section
The sense of precision and agility the steering imparts, and the level of feedback it gives the driver, is the greatest strength in the 86. Anyone can enjoy this, whether they’re driving to the shops or on a twisting country road.
The 86 feels about as good to steer as sports coupes that are far more expensive, such as the Porsche Cayman.
The rear-wheel drive 86 handles corners brilliantly. It turns in enthusiastically and responds to small changes in accelerator and brake pedal inputs, which makes for an involving driving experience. This kind of responsiveness is rare in a modern car.
Skilled drivers will love how controllably you can slide the rear tyres of the 86, which is great fun (on a racing circuit, of course).
The bigger wheels and tyres on the GTS make it a slightly sharper handler and give it more grip than the GT has.
The ventilated rear discs on the GTS (in place of the GT’s solid discs) bring very slightly improved braking power and consistency.
The high level of handling ability in the 86 may make it feel a bit underpowered for particularly keen drivers, even though the 2.0-litre flat four-cylinder engine is quite powerful for the weight of the car. The flat-four is at its most responsive at high engine speeds, where it also sounds much sportier. The noise it makes at low speeds isn’t inspiring.
Many enthusiasts will prefer the manual transmission in this car. But for buyers inclined to choose an automatic, the auto in the 86 is a good one. And you can control it from paddles on the steering wheel.
How is life in the rear seats?Expand Section
Nonetheless, many other sports cars – for example, the Mazda MX-5 and Nissan 370Z – do not have a back seat at all.
How is it for carrying stuff?Expand Section
The 86’s rear seatback folds in one piece, rather than the split/fold arrangement of most cars. With the seatback folded, you can fit four spare wheels with tyres in the back. That could be handy for the kind of 86 buyer who might take their car to the racing circuit on the weekend.
Where does Toyota make the 86?Expand Section
What might I miss that similar cars have?Expand Section
The MX-5 shares the 86’s rear-wheel-drive layout, and offers a similar level of driver involvement for about the same price. It is also a soft-top convertible, which adds an extra dimension to the experience.
The Hyundai costs about as much as an 86, and the Renault a bit more. They are similar to the 86 in that they are coupes. But they are front-wheel-drive, and so handle differently. In its own way, the Megane RS275 handles about as well as an 86. The Veloster Turbo is aimed more at someone who wants a car that feels sporty but who won’t drive it especially hard.
Both front-drivers have turbocharged engines, which make them quicker than the 86 while performing with less apparent effort.
The Hyundai and Renault have five-year warranties. The Subaru BRZ has a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Are there plans to update the Toyota 86 soon?Expand Section
I like this car, but I can’t choose which version. Can you help?Expand Section
2016 Mazda MX-5 GT 2.0 v Toyota 86 GTS comparison review
Our Car of the Year, the MX-5, is great fun to drive. But can it match the much-praised 86 coupe – COTY in 2012 – for speed and precision?
Mazda MX-5 vs Toyota 86 GTS
The 86 booted the MX-5 back in 2012, but Mazda's iconic sports car is back – and keen for a fight
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