THE Toyota 86 has been given a mid-life update, with the Japanese carmaker rolling out a string of styling, suspension and power tweaks.
The two-door Toyota – which in 2012 was named the Wheels Car of the Year alongside its Subaru BRZ twin – was revealed overnight at the New York Show, wearing a Toyota badge in the North American market for the first time as the carmaker brings its US market-only Scion brand back into the regular line-up.
The updated Toyota 86’s exterior features headlight clusters that now incorporate the indicators, with an extra-chunky front bumper and larger front grille proving a more menacing look. There’s also an extra low lip compared with the existing car’s profile, and a new 17-inch alloy pattern that’s more elegant than athletic. For trainspotters, the GT86 badge has now been styled as a standalone 86 graphic.
Beneath that body, there are revised spring and damper rates, as well as a change to the final drive on manual models. Manual-shift 86s have also had a slight tickle under the bonnet, with a 4kw/9Nm bump to 151kW/214Nm.
Opt for the flagship GTS model and you’ll also score ‘Grandlux’ trim on the dash, seats with silver stitching, and audio controls integrated into the steering wheel.
The fresh-look GT 86, due in Australia June, is expected to remain at the same $29,990 starting price as the current model.
Toyota’s decision to dump the Scion badge in the US is a significant one for the carmaker.
Scion was Toyota’s youth-oriented sub-brand that was launched in 2003, selling largely re-badged Toyota models. It was somewhat successful: more than a million Scion-badged cars have been sold, with Toyota claiming that 70 percent of customers were new to the Toyota/Scion brand, and that half were less than 35 years old. Its best sales year was 2007, when it moved 173,034 Scions. That fell to a mere 56,167 in 2015.
In 2012, the Toyota GT-86 went on sale in the US badged as the Scion FR-S with a particular tilt towards aftermarket tuning. Toyota says replacing the Scion badge with a Toyota one will lessen the focus on aftermarket tuning as the carmaker aims to make the four-seat coupe more appealing to a broader audience.
What does the refreshed 86 mean for its twin under the skin, the Subaru BRZ, which is built alongside the 86 in Subaru’s Gunma, Japan, factory? Nothing, apparently.