Car Review: 2022 Toyota GR 86 is a really fun sports car. But is it really a Toyota? | Cars

MONTICELLO, NY – After taking the top two spots at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month, Toyota’s Gazoo Racing team have much to be proud of. It took years to achieve this, and it is a testament to Toyota’s strong engineering and manufacturing acumen. Knowing this, it is quite remarkable that the company does not design or manufacture its own sports cars. Mazda, an automaker a fraction of the size of Toyota, can afford to do it. Nissan too. Yet Toyota sports cars are in fact designed and manufactured by other car manufacturers. The question remains: why?

Toyota will say it is difficult to be profitable given the small size of the market. So she turned to Subaru, which designs and manufactures its BRZ sports coupe for use as the 2022 Toyota GR 86. Toyota is providing the design and chassis adjustments here and there. So Toyota has a share in its development.

Is this semantics important? For the sports car purist, unequivocally yes. For most sports car buyers, no.

First introduced in 2012 as the Scion FR-S, the car was renamed Toyota 86 when the Scion brand was discontinued in 2016. For the second generation of its collaboration with Subaru, Toyota renamed its sports coupe the GR 86 in honor of Toyota. Gazoo Racing.

Fortunately, the new take on this sports coupe is a hoot and a half to drive, even more so than the previous version.

At first glance, the GR 86 doesn’t look much different from the previous generation. But the stylistic differences are significant. Its look is simpler and cleaner, having eliminated the youthful fuss on the front fairing and through the car. It’s more sophisticated, with a style that should be more appealing to those who don’t have Y chromosomes. And the built-in duckbill on the trunk looks great.

The car benefits from the additional use of high-strength steel to keep the car light but strong to handle the extra horsepower from its larger 2.4-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine. Horsepower increases 18 percent to 228, while torque increases 11 percent to 184 pound-feet, with maximum torque at lower revs of 3,700 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard; a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and rev matching is optional. Weighing 2,811 pounds, the GR 86 is one of the lightest sports cars on the market and has a front-to-rear mass balance of 53/47.

All this basic engineering excellence was apparent on the track at the Monticello Motor Club. Back-to-back drives with the 2021 Toyota 86 reveal the much flatter torque curve of the 2022 GR 86 and a drivetrain that cares less about upshifting to save fuel. The manual makes this car a rare find, one of the last of a dying breed. That said, the automatic transmission is much more far-sighted, shifting exactly when you need it. It’s much better than the previous automatic. The numbers tell the story, with manual transmission cars hitting 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and automatic models doing the same in 6.6 seconds.

When it comes to the fun, you’ll find the new car to be very forgiving and well-balanced, with more precise steering and more powerful braking. It is extremely responsive, but easily controllable. The tail turns on command or remains stuck depending on your inputs. The steering is well weighted, although a bit light at high speeds. With good, but not overwhelming power, there is enough to use while driving the Piggly Wiggly without arousing suspicion. The ride is still a firm sports car but does not punish on broken pavement. There is a hint of thinness in the corners, but not enough to be of concern. The car looks a lot more refined, although there is still some noise from the road and tires. Fortunately, there is always more exhaust noise than either.

All of this makes him a lot easier to live with as a daily driver.

Enhancing that feeling, the car’s cabin also gets a welcome upgrade, with an improvement in the overall quality of the finish. Drivers face a 7-inch digital dashboard, with an 8-inch infotainment system to its right. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is a six-speaker sound system on the base trim and an eight-speaker system on the Premium models.

Best of all, it delivers that fun at all speeds at a cost that won’t break you. It’s a great first car or the perfect second car for empty nesters. Just stow away lightly or use the rear seat for extra storage, because the trunk is really tiny.

If you end up purchasing a 2022 GR 86, you’ll receive a free one-year National Auto Sport Association membership, including a free high-performance driving event and discounted entry to NASA-sanctioned events.

It’s a really fun little machine, although it owes little of its technical excellence to Toyota, as the engine and platform come from Subaru. While connoisseurs of car enthusiasts can discuss such questions, the rest of us will be doing laps on our favorite track, cross country course, or winding country road, smiling at how too much thinking can ruin a great race. or a quick weekend.

2022 Toyota GR 86

Base price: Not available

Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC horizontally opposed four-cylinder

Horsepower / Torque: 228/184 lb-ft of torque

EPA fuel economy (city / highway): 20/30 mpg

Observed fuel economy: 24 mpg

Fuel Required: Premium

Length / width / height: 167.9 / 69.9 / 51.6 inch

Ground clearance: 5.1 inches

Loading capacity: 6.26 cubic feet

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