Where the 86 is lacking it notably compensates in a solid sport chassis that offers a memorable driving experience. Here’s our, in depth, impressions about the base trim 86 being offered in the UAE.
Driving the manual:
The driving experience is the most outstanding chapter of the 86. The connection between the driver and machine is pure, requiring no interference from electronic aids; that modern, bigger, heavier cars call for. It is no race car, rather more of a nimble light weight roadster; perhaps ranking somewhere between the more racy, Honda S2000 & the currently dated, Mazda MX-5.
Unlike a typical front engine, rear wheel drive car; where you feel weight the engine pinning the nose down. The 86 does not have this sensation. The short wheel base and almost 50:50 weight ratio grants the feel of a mid-engine car, as several have implied. Coupled with a low centre of gravity it sure does surprise how well it handles around the corners with confidence & minimal body roll.
The short throw six speed manual transmission is smooth and the gears are very easy to locate as expected from a modern manual gearbox. Though shifting into the gears feels a little mushy unlike the more direct transmission of the S2000. A manual transmission is ideal for a car like the 86.
While the 2.0 boxer engine is the major argument; the boxer engine’s croak sound could have been more aggressive. The FA20’s note sounds less epic compared to other Subaru boxers. Neither underpowered nor overpowered, the power output is sufficient for its mass & skinny road tires; requiring no electronic aids to take over the driving. Though the power band dips at bit at mid-range rpms and comes back with a burst of life after crossing 4500 rpm range. The engine could have, with complete ease, produced an extra oomph but was limited to 197 hp; which seems to be intentionally done for fuel economy & emissions sake. Speaking of fuel economy, we managed to score between 5.7L /100km and 12L /100km with the A/C on and an extra passenger most of the time.
The standard road tires are not that sticky, with fit enough for its power output while allowing you to toy with on the curves hence any of the slightest power upgrade and you might ask for more grippy tires.
Life with the 86:
Interior of the base manual model is dull, unlike the top & mid-range trims being offered locally. Some found the interior design overall to feel dated. Soft touch plastics and padded surfaces exist at the right areas while the hard bits are in more subtle locations.
The plain & bland charcoal finish gauge cluster does not come with the digital speedometer or the shift light. The standard climate control knobs are only there to serve their purpose, nothing more. If these two bits can be sorted, then it would make the whole interior look more appealing.
The fabric bucket seats, just like the leather ones are nicely supportive and can be adjusted to fit you perfectly. The rear seats, as expected, fit small adults and essentially exist to keep insurance costs down.
Electric folding mirrors, fog lamps and Bluetooth connectivity are still being offered in the base model.
One awkward bit about the interior is the absence of an arm rest at the centre console; most of today’s cars are equipped with arm rests. You end up adapting by resting you hand on the gear knob or steering wheel.
Visibility is good and it is very easy to manoeuvre the car in tight areas. The front wheel arches stick above hood level and serve as reference points when moving the nose around. The blind spots are the thick c-pillars and rear window. It is very easy to move around in tight spaces though going in reverse is a bit of a chore. Perhaps a lip spoiler would serve as an indicator of where the trunk ends.
As constantly mentioned, Toyota 86 is a long awaited car because it fills a gap that has been merely kept alive by the best selling Mazda MX-5 and last decade’s solid Honda S2000. The modern hachi-roku translates the needs and requirements of car enthusiasts passionate about this segment besides making room for daily use & practicality.
The base manual trim is the bargain of the 86 models sold locally, AED 95000 might sound a bit steep for this 86 judging the plain interior but under the skin is a genuine solid sport car chassis you will fall for.
Serving as a solid platform for any kind of purpose and is designed to be modified accordingly; the 86, as an OEM formula, is finely tuned and balanced to maintain a reputation of a cheap to run but dedicated sport car.
Running costs ought to be low because of the small brakes, skinny tires, single drive belt and fuel economy figures; should prove to be fruitful on the long run.
Finally, many of today’s consumers yearn for power and many of today’s sport, performance cars are half-way dipped into the luxury segment. The 86 comes as a wind of change, at least in other markets, where it is selling like hot cakes. UAE consumers might emit mixed perceptions about the car since we lust for power and luxury as the 86 is a very basic one, with minimal focus on gadgetry but offers an essence you cannot find in many of today’s cars. The closest car, sold locally, I could think of is the front wheel drive Renault Clio RS, priced some AED 5000 less.
Stay tuned as we compare the manual vs the automatic and tell you which is what.