Arriving to Yas Marina Circuit to test and experience the Toyota 86 was one outstanding event. The day started with some introductions by Toyota’s Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada and Al Futtaim Motors Managing Director Simon Firth; along with an striking 3d mapping presentation about the car’s engineering and origins. We all nodded with appreciation and anticipation believing that after all these years something big awaits behind the wheel of the 86 and the result was what we have imagined.
The rest of the evening, right after the test drive, was made up of endless conversations about how impressive the 86 actually is with experienced race drivers (including UAE Drift star Ahmed Al-Amri), car enthusiasts and reporters with various driving & racing experiences discussing the matter with almost fanaticism.
The 86 is just a work of beauty it is well balanced and tweaked. You can be gentle with it or thrash it and it will be rewarding in all cases. It is not one of those cars that can potentially play tricks on you; the handling and power output are perfectly balanced and predictable making it suitable for any driver of any skill level. Driving the 86 is an addictive and satisfying experience no matter how far you push it.
The 2.0 boxer engine, mated to the 6 speed automatic transmission from the ISF, has a very silky smooth power band but most of the power output comes when you hit high RPMs. You can push it up to the 7500RPMredline and it does not feel like its struggling in anyway. The engine note is that of the typical Subaru boxer engine, deep glug sound and it gives out that nice croak once the RPMs jump up on downshifts. On the other hand when driving slowly or cruising the engine is just extremely calm and purrs gently. The 2.0 boxer is perfectly sorted for the car and extremely responsive. The engine is neither under-powered nor over-powered; enough to let you go sideways without sending you crashing.
The 6 speed automatic gearbox is extremely fast and receptive. I would assume, in spirited driving, the automatic is as good as the manual yet those seeking a more lively experience would consider checking out the 6 speed manual.
The car is very stable and encourages you to go faster on the curves without hesitation; it gives room for you to push the chassis limits and your driving skills without the fear of any sudden surprises that bigger & more powerful cars might throw at you. It has a small tendency to stick its tail out on corners but that is intentional, as far as we know (for drifters) yet very manageable.
During the last 10 minute track session, we just started revving the engine harder and throwing the car around the corners as fast as possible. There was a couple of moments when we went fast on the curves and it felt like we’re going to lose the car but it is easy to direct it back on course. The higher the speeds and revs the more alive the 86 feels and on every turn you just want to go faster but the pace car was in front of us so we could not go for it.
The Toyota 86 is a huge thrill to drive and it does not have any excessive power, gadgetry or technology that might obstruct or dumb down the driving experience. Rather it is a proper old-fashioned drivers’ car; you feel very connected to the machine and the road. I have driven cars that are more powerful and cost twice as much; still, they don’t offer the driving pleasure or ‘liveliness’ that this car has.
The car is sold in 4 different trims and prices start at AED 95000 for the base manual model and AED 100000 for the automatic going upto AED 125000. More details about specs and trims coming soon.