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25 Feb 2023

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At almost $260,000 with current COE prices, it is rather costly

The GR86, equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential and a torquey engine, is a heartfelt love letter from Toyota to all driving enthusiasts.

When you put the brand 'Toyota' and the numbers '86' in the same sentence, the first thing that comes to mind will be the Toyota Sprinter Trueno (chassis code AE86) of Initial D fame. By naming the original Toyota 86 and the GR86 here as such, the intent is clear - these cars are spiritual successors of the AE86.

However, if your knowledge of the original AE86 is deeper than the popular Japanese manga's portrayal, you would know that it is but a sportier spin-off from the venerable Corolla range of economy cars. The AE86 wasn't particularly powerful, nor did it have anything really special. Instead, it charms with its rear-wheel drive layout, lightness, simplicity, and was immortalised by aftermarket tuners and budding enthusiasts thanks to its affordable price point.

Will the new GR86 be able to reprise the monumental success of the car that inspired its fruition?

An all new, better me

The GR86 is a purpose-built sports coupe with a focus on maximum driving pleasure
The Toyota GR86 is now in its second generation, the first being the Toyota 86 (or GT 86 in some regions), and now sports a fresh design with a fair bit of mechanical upgrades.

Unlike the AE86, the Toyota 86 was designed from the ground up as a sporty rear-wheel drive, two-door coupe, a driver's car that's meant to be engaging and fun to drive.

It comes as no surprise that the car was lauded for its sharp handling, quick steering and ability to go sideways controllably.

The new 2.4-litre naturally aspirated engine produces plenty of low-end torque
With the GR86, Toyota took the opportunity to resolve a major pain point that's universally agreed upon by anyone who's driven the original 86 - its weak engine.

A new 2.4-litre naturally aspirated flat-four engine now sits in the familiar engine bay, putting out 228bhp at 7,000rpm and 250Nm of torque at just 3,700rpm.

Unlike the original 86's 2.0-litre lump that only made 197bhp at the same rpm, and 205Nm of torque only towards the end of the useable rpm range, at 6,400rpm, the new engine provides plenty of useable torque down low.

A healthy 250Nm of torque is produced at 3,700rpm and the torque curve remains quite flat for the rest of the rev range
Gone was the infamous torque dip, and the 2.4-litre engine now pulls strongly off the line, enabling a century sprint that's more than a second quicker at just 6.3 seconds.

While the turbocharged engine that many were hoping for didn't happen, the revised engine does make the car peppy and pretty brisk.

The question now is, have they managed to retain the 86's charm?

I'll hug the curves if you like, spice things up if you desire

A lightweight sports coupe like the GR86 is the perfect weapon for fun, twisty roads
Weighing in at around 1,276kg, the GR86 maintains the ethos of the original 86 and the AE86. Instead of relying on a powerful engine to spice things up, these cars are fun to drive thanks to their low weight and incredible agility.

You don't even have to be driving aggressively to notice the incredibly quick and precise steering of the GR86 - just get onto the expressway and you'll notice how it only takes a slight nudge of the steering wheel to change a lane.

Now, find a twisty section of roads and start driving a little harder, and you'll be greeted by the absence of excessive body roll, along with the agility and eager turn-in of the GR86.

Thanks to the LSD, the GR86 will gladly oblige should you be in the mood for some tyre-smoking shenanigans
In fact, the GR86 also demonstrated a truly fun trait of well-engineered rear-wheel drive sports cars. Unlike most front-wheel drive cars where you'll have to back off the throttle to encourage turn-in, applying a little more throttle during mid-corner will coerce the GR86 to rotate, allowing it to turn sharply without breaking traction.

As it is equipped with a limited-slip differential (LSD), you could spin both rear wheels for some tail-happy shenanigans if you'd like to. The well-tuned chassis, its quick and communicative steering, along with the nicely sorted suspension, will also allow you to stay in complete control.

Every single second spent together is one spent in bliss

The driver-centric cockpit of the GR86 puts you in complete control of the fun machine
Get into the supportive driver seat of the GR86 and all the controls fall into place naturally. While there aren't any electric controls, the steering offers tilt and telescopic adjustments so you can find the perfect position to be in complete control and comfort.

Reminiscent of the GR Yaris, the GR86's interior features plenty of hard plastics as well, and like the former, it is all justifiable - these cars' primary appeal lies in the drive, and expensive leather wouldn't make much difference other than adding unnecessary weight and cost.

That isn't to say the interior is uninspiring. On the contrary, the GR86's climate control knobs and displays have all been modernised and are much more attractive than its predecessor's.

With sufficient amenities and a firm yet forgiving ride, the GR86 easily doubles as the perfect daily cruiser
The 8.0-inch infotainment display also features physical knobs and buttons for easy access while driving, and there's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functions as well.

Yes, the GR86 is equipped with amenities that make everyday driving a breeze.

Furthermore, its firm but forgiving damping, a close ratio six-speed gearbox and its engine with plenty of torque down low makes city driving and cruising on expressways easy and enjoyable.

Really, I meant it when I said I'm better and all new

A distinctive new front end sets the GR86 apart from its predecessor
Equally enjoyable is its new look, while the GR86 is built upon the same basis as the outgoing Toyota 86, a fresh new face, rear end and some tweaks have resulted in a discernibly different look.

Gone are the sharp and aggressive head lights, and in place is a pair of almost triangular units that gives the car a wide-eyed look.

The dip in aggression is made up for by the large grille and functional vents on each side of the front bumper. A prominent GR badge on the grille assures the sporty intention of the 86.

Fresh looks, improved engine and the familiar dynamic prowess make the GR86 a really lovely driver's car
A familiar silhouette connects the updated front end to a brand-new rear that has hints of previous Aston Martin models, lending the GR86 an air of classiness.

With these substantial design changes, there is no chance for anyone who lays eyes on the GR86 to confuse it with its predecessor. And anyone lucky enough to give the GR86 a go will surely enjoy the low-end grunt of the engine along with its excellent chassis.

Importantly, does it live up to the expectation of it's namesake?

There's more power and useable torque than its predecessor, the exemplary chassis tuning inspires plenty of confidence, and the basis of a lightweight, agile and fun driver's car had been perfectly reproduced. Apart from its almost $260,000 price tag (no thanks to the exorbitant COE prices), Toyota has certainly knocked it way out of the ballpark.

Yearning for an enjoyable drive? Here are some other sporty choices you could consider:

The R8 sings one more beautiful swan song
The BMW M240i is an 80s action hero
The Audi RS3 Sedan is a precise cornering artist
The GR Yaris is a Jack Russell on steroids
Car Information
There's a promotion for Toyota GR86


: $138,888 (w/o COE)

Engine Type


4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC

Engine Cap





168kW (225 bhp) / 7000 rpm



250 Nm / 3700 rpm



6-speed (M)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption



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