Motoring | Test Drives

Toyota 86 - Week 9

Our long-term Toyota 86 has its share of problems, but we still heartily approve of it, writes Amit Benjamin

  • By Amit Benjamin, Editor, wheels
  • Published: 11:53 April 28, 2013

Toyota 86
  • Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • The cabin may not look much, but the driving position is spot on.

It’s the end of the line for what is inarguably one of the most adored cars ever to grace our long-term fleet. Ever since we drove the Toyota 86 early last year we’ve been smitten by its ability to slap a smile on the most resolutely po-faced person.

Unsurprisingly, it walked home with three honours at the 2012 wheels Car of the Year awards, including the coveted overall Car of the Year accolade — no mean feat considering it went head to head with mighty rivals such as the Porsche 911 and the McLaren MP4-12C Spider.

And it turns out we weren’t wrong in lavishing massive praise on the little Toyota, as even you, dear reader, picked it as your favourite car of 2012. No controversy there, then.

We love the near-perfect driving position, the direct and feelsome steering, the nicely sprung pedals and the superb outward visibility. It’s relatively well priced, too, for the amount of fun it affords behind the wheel.

But familiarity breeds contempt, and now having spent over two months with the 86 some flaws are much more apparent. Let’s start with the Subaru-developed 2.0-litre Boxer engine.

Sure it drips character, but it is, simply put, gutless in a straight line. You can kiss all your Initial D-style drifting dreams goodbye if you’re running well-treaded tyres; it simply doesn’t have enough power to overcome the grip from the rear tyres.

The cabin materials also feel a bit nasty and practicality is a word best not uttered in the same breath as 86. And finally, despite just over 19,000km
on the clock, the gearbox is unusually grumpy when shifting to first.

So it doesn’t have a half-decent engine, the cabin doesn’t exude quality, and it’s surprisingly rubbish when it comes to practicality.

On the upside, it’s got loads of character, it’s great in corners and given the right circumstances will put a grin wider than Steven Tyler’s on your face.

In essence, it’s everything you don’t expect any current Toyota to be. And that’s why you should buy one.

The progress

Week 8
At less than Dh100,000, the Toyota 86 is priced cheaply for a reason. So don’t go in expecting a packaging and production miracle
Highs: Handles extremely well
Lows: Engine is not the strongest

Week 7
Highs: It’s a bit like a playful puppy
Lows: Interior could be better

Week 5 and 6
Highs: Grips like mad on a new set of tyres...
Lows: ...which is less fun than on worn tyres

Week 4
Highs: Looks great, is fun around corners
Lows: Straightline acceleration disappoints

Week 3
Highs: Has heart and soul
Lows: Build quality could be better, more power would be nice

Week 2
Highs: One of the best driver’s cars
Lows: A Yaris hatchback has more space

Week 1
Highs: Hoot to drive, superb chassis
Lows: Not the quickest, notchy gear changes


Driven by: Amit
Start mileage: 19,340km
Recent cost: Fuel
Average fuel economy: 11 litres-per-100km
Highs: Huge fun, great driving position
Lows: Practicality, lacks power, cabin materials


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