In the previous review, I discussed the creature comforts that accompany the top range 86; now its time to cover the real important chapter everybody is waiting for! Earlier, on the Yas Marina circuit, the higher the revs and speeds, the more alive the 86 felt but on the roads, the 86 can be a calmer, smoother and less juvenile car.
The pride and the ultimate strength of the Toyota 86 is in its well balanced chassis. The car just feels very stable at all times will almost no body-roll on corners; giving you a vibe of control and confidence as you curiously attempt to push the car’s handling to a limit. At times it feels like the tail might potentially stick out on the corners but it doesn’t really terrify you as everything is pretty much predictable. The electrical power steering has got a heavy feel and the feeling of being disconnected from the vehicle, as you would expect from such a system, is minimized.
The Subaru sourced and Toyota enhanced 2.0 boxer engine, with direct & port injection, has sufficient power to get the 86 going. It might feel underpowered for some drivers especially those who enjoy a torque burst at low revs, instead of working hard for that extra oomph. Regardless, there is a sufficient dose of power for the average driver to manage and control the vehicle in most situations. Once you adjust your driving style to the engine’s near consistent power band, you actually start the value the fact there is not more than enough power; rather it is well suited for a vehicle meant to go around corners without requiring plenty of driving skill, making it a great starter’s car. One a side note, a set of unequal length headers would really bring out the epic engine note of that boxer though. Fuel economy managed an average of 16L /100km but that was because it was hard not to go flat out. The fun builds up as the revs rise.
Whether you are cruising on a highway, driving through traffic or taking the car for a spirited drive; the conventional auto does not offer super fast, VW DSG like, gear shifts but it does not take away the driving pleasure. The six speed automatic transmission, sourced from the Lexus ISF, responds without any delays or hesitance to the driver’s requests; the shifts are instant and smart.
Braking power is sufficient for the 86’s mass; the brakes perform well under everyday circumstances and are pretty adequate.
Driving the car around a variety of roads, highways and speeds; one gets to enjoy the fact the 86 has two personalities; one is a gentle everyday car while the other is an aggressive sports car based on where you keep those revs. The 86 can be considered as Toyota’s own version of the Honda S2000 or Mazda MX-5. Creature comforts and a well balanced & natural handling are the selling points of the 86. Though some S2000 owners did favor the Honda’s punchier engine over the 86’s boxer mated to the automatic; it is left it see how the manual version goes compared to the auto.