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Toyota GR86: Is It Worth the Hype?

Firearms Fanatic. 2nd Amendment supporter. Automotive Enthusiast. Technology dude. Gamer.


When Toyota decided they wanted to go back to the classic days of motorsport where people could go sideways without any electronic gremlin blocking their fun, they built the GT86 and the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ.

They're basically the same car platform underneath but rebadged to their respective brands. It's like the story with the Mercedes-Benz X-class pickup truck - it was a rebadged Nissan Navarra and no one bought it because it felt nothing like a luxury truck. 'Twas an overpriced Navarra, so to speak.

We all know that the original GT86 - or Hachi-Roku in Japanese - had a 2.0L flat four engine that produced 197 horses. Eventually, they were able to squeeze out 204 horses but that still wasn't enough for most people, including me. I suffer from an anxiety disorder called "right foot syndrome," which means putting your right foot all the way down and turning jungle juice into an orchestra.

The new cars—the GR86 and the BRZ—seem to have a new look and new engine. Minus the Scion of course, as we know it foundered. One has to ask why Toyota even bothered with an FR-S in the first place?


As always, I'll be taking the automatic model. It's got a flat four engine just like the last car. But unlike the last one, this is now a 2.4L displacement, which produces 230 horsepower. You could call this superb as a Lancer X RalliArt produces 240 horses from a turbo and this naturally aspirated. It's got a .4 liter displacement, though, so I'm not sure you could call that flabbergasting.

Toyota claims this can do the standing start in 5.8 seconds in the manual and 6.3 seconds in the automatic. Hmmm. Not looking too good in the automatic, apparently. Jason Cammisa would be most pleased with this. Yes, I saw his video on Hagerty about people who drive sports cars in automatic should suffer. Let him rant.

I'm told the automatic in this isn't as good on the track as a manual, but we'll see. I mean, there's only one real way to find out, isn't there? Time to suit up again, get on the track, take her on the road and see how she goes.


Seatbelt? Check. Sweaty racing suit? Check. Damp neck brace? Check. Smelly helmet? Check. Aircon on max? Check. With the pre-drive inspection over, I decided it was time to activate launch control.

Yeah, sure, whatever. Ok. Hmmm. This isn't as fast as I thought it was. See, unlike the Evo X MR I reviewed, which had AWD and a 4.5-second naught to sixty, this is simply RWD and feels a tad bit sluggish. Even in manual mode, the automatic box is a bit clunky.

And I'm not joking, it's not as good an automatic as I thought. Granted, in manual mode and sport mode, it is remarkably responsive. However, as I approach this corner, I'm somewhat hitting the brakes hard and tapping the left paddle to down shift into 2nd gear and all I hear is a beeping sound.

So I'm gonna be that guy who's a bit slow today because my torque converter automatically beeps when I want it to down shift. I mean, look, I'm doing a turn in third gear while everyone on the track is lapping me in second. They could even be laughing at me for all I know.

Honestly, though, with this clunky automatic, I'd rather have a manual. It reminds me of the automated manual in the early 2000s Vanquish S - it would upshift perfectly like this one, but when you downshift, that's when you start panicking.


This gearbox is somewhat like Mazda's MX-5. It punishes you for using or buying the automatic model. They deliberately made the automatic a bit unrefined to make you buy the manual variant of this car.

I admit, in automatic mode, it's perfect. But once you put it in manual mode or sport mode, it's just a disappointment.

So is this car worth the asking price? Yes and no. It depends on what you'll use it for. I'm sure there are many out there who would prefer using it on the track and thus would purchase the manual. Fine by me. A car with a clunky auto shouldn't really be on the racetrack.

However, it's possible that you could be a person of culture and refinement and finesse and class who's also a budget, hence your preference to use the automatic model for your own Grand Touring trips around your country. Think of driving an Aston Martin Vanquish or Maserati GranTurismo or Ferrari 599 GTB - except you can't afford them so you choose the Toyota or Subaru instead.

I know I would.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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