The 2023 Toyota GR86 is a superb example of how to combine the perfect ingredients to make an excellent sports car. It is a light, front-engine RWD car with responsive handling designed for the twistiest roads you can take it on. The 86 is the mechanical twin of the Subaru BRZ., sharing the same platform and engine, with minor tweaks from each brand.
This year, Toyota has introduced a limited run 10th anniversary Special Edition GR86 which costs $34,360 in a special ‘Solar Shift’ orange color. Some cool cosmetic upgrades are black wheels, black stripes on the C-pillar, and a sweet-sounding cat-back exhaust with black chrome tips.
The suspension of the BRZ is less stiff when compared to the GR86, which makes it a little uncomfortable on uneven roads but might be advantageous on the track. As far as the looks are concerned, the GR86 has a more aggressive-looking front end.
The choice of which car you will ultimately choose will depend on which brand is closer to your heart. The engine, while not being the biggest one, is powerful enough to make the GR86 fast and a blast to drive on canyon roads and racetracks.
The GR86 encompasses a great driving experience while being very affordable, starting at $28,400 MSRP. Toyota has got the formula for this car just right, designed to make driving enjoyable with the right power output for the size and a sweet quick-shifting six-speed manual transmission. In an era where EVs and Hybrid powertrains are taking over, the GR86 is an old-school breath of fresh air. The seating position is low but not too low and offers a focused driving position with great visibility.
What Makes The GR86 So Great?
A front-view studio shot of a 2023 Toyota GR86
The GR86 engine is a Subaru-developed naturally aspirated four-cylinder Boxer engine that produces 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, paired with a six-speed manual transmission as standard with an option for a six-speed automatic as well. The engine is powerful enough to accelerate the car from 0-60 MPH in six seconds and a top speed of 135 MPH. The automatic transmission is a second slower than the manual, which Toyota claims is because the automatic is a bit heavier than the manual.
Handling is where the GR86 always comes into its own, with this being no different this time around. The legendary AE 86 which is the spiritual ancestor of the GR, was one of the best-handling cars of its time, depending on who you ask. The GR86 carries forward the same tradition. The steering offers precise feedback, which along with the stiff suspension makes the car feel nimble.
The car is still lightweight with a low center of gravity and Torsion limited-slip differential (LSD), which makes it a hoot to throw around corners. There are three drive modes to choose from Normal, Sport, and Track. You also get Vehicle Stability Control in Track Mode, which adds to the experience.
The GR86 comes in two trims regular which starts at $28,400 MSRP and Premium which costs $31,000. The Premium has some added features like 18-inch tires compared to 17-inch tires on the regular, rear spoiler, and heated seats. The Premium trim also offers additional safety features like Blind Spot Detection and Rear Parking Sonar.
They also claimed that the manual transmission is more efficient in transferring power to the wheels. The engine is not the most powerful, but it makes more power and torque than the previous generation. As per the EPA figures on the 2022 GR86, the manual version returns 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. The automatic is more efficient, returning 20 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway.
The GR Packs A Functional Yet Sporty Cockpit
Interior of the 2022 Toyota GR86 Premium
While the interiors seem spartan, they are comfortable enough for long journeys as long as there are only two people. While the seat configuration is 2+2, the rear seats are extremely cramped and not meant for adults by any stretch of the imagination. They are more appropriate for children or small dogs. While there are ISOFIX points for a baby seat, it can be quite challenging to fit in there.
The Premium trim has an eight-speaker audio system, while the regular trim has six speakers. There is also a 7.0-inch TFT GR digital instrument cluster for the driver with Multi-Instrument Display. The MID presents drivers with a wide array of information like a torque graph and tire pressure monitor, The dash is straightforward, with a mixture of physical AC knobs with display screens for the temperature and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen which comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The fit and finish of the interior upholstery are supple and good to the touch. A common complaint about the interior is that it can be loud due to subpar noise dampening. Trunk space is limited to 7.98 cubic feet, which is greater than its rival the Mazda MX-5 which is limited to 4.6 cubic feet. You get more space if you fold the rear seats forward, which gives you enough space for your weekly groceries.
The GR86 was featured on the IIHS annual Top Safety Pick + list for the year 2022 in the small cars’ category. This makes it one of the safest cars on the road currently. The GR86 also comes standard with a rear parking camera but misses a rear water nozzle to keep it clean. Toyota has also provided a GR86 Active Safety Suite with some driver assistance features, but for some bizarre reason only offered it for the automatic transmission variant.
What Makes It Worthy To Be Your Next Sports Car?
The GR86 is a sports car built for enthusiasts, with a combination of well-balanced features like phenomenal steering feedback, stiff chassis, and adequate power. In this price range, there are competitors, like the Mazda MX-5, 181 horsepower which is not as powerful as the GR 86’s 228 horsepower. Having said that, the Mazda (2,341 pounds) is lighter than the Toyota (2,811 pounds).
Another thing about the GR86 is that it is a Toyota, which means you can be rest assured about its bulletproof reliability in the long run. Another great thing about the GR86 is the well-established after-market space, The platform is sturdy enough to be endlessly customized to fit your exact needs, whether it be cosmetic or mechanical modifications. There is an HKS-tuned GR86 which has been extensively modified to produce more than 400 horsepower. The GR86 offers a solid foundation to build a formidable track machine.
Toyota has crafted a joyous driving experience with the GR86, with steady improvements over the years. Its utter simplicity and the optional manual transmission and usable performance, all at an affordable price are what make it a fantastic sportscar. It’s great to see that Toyota has been fine-tuning the GR86 car to make it more composed and better than it already was.
We can be sure that the next variant, which is rumored to release in 2025, will be better and might even come with a turbocharger. There are also rumors that Toyota is developing the new car independently of Subaru. We live in perpetual hope. In the meanwhile, we have the GR86 to play around with, which seems to be on its way to becoming a future classic.