Toyota 86

Motoring Review

Toyota 86

Everyone has a black sheep in the family and unfortunately for Toyota the 86 is it!

You see, Toyota has produced a long line of reliable vehicles through the years, which has gained them many brand loyal individuals, even though the vehicles have been a little … dare I say it, dull.

The truth is, whenever Toyota produced good looking offspring, they never made it to our shores. For once a good looking Toyota has arrived in Sunny South Africa — and good looking the 86 surely is. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever had a prettier Toyota that has attracted as much attention as the 86.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a prettier Toyota that has attracted as much attention as the 86. Unfortunately, its appeal is rather shallow and rests solely in its outer appearance.”

The interior is really nothing to write home about with mismatched materials that leave you confused. But by far the worst part of the interior is the sound system — which would probably be more at home in a Hilux bakkie than in this 2 door coupé. At least it has an USB and auxiliary port but unfortunately no Bluetooth.  There are cup holders that fit into the centre console but look a bit like they forgot about them initially and then had to make a plan to add them later.

The sporty seats are comfortable and hold all the important bits in place when playing silly buggers around the corners but unfortunately dont return to their original position when reclining the seat forward to access the back seats. And talking about back seats … Toyota refers to the 86 as a 2+2, well I beg to differ. Its more like a 2+ 1/2 as only an infant can fit into the back of this car — there simply is nowhere to put your legs. I think it is truer to call this a 2 seater with some storage. It is true that the rear seats can fold flat to increase boot space, but they also have finicky clips on each side which means the fold down is a bit of a task.

The high specification vehicle that we tested has modern luxuries like air conditioner with dual climate control, automatic headlights and cruise control and it even has seat heaters (which we don’t really need here in Africa and I would have preferred to rather have auto dimming mirrors instead).

The ride is rather stiff, but on the sunny side it has direct steering which makes driving this car fun with the rear wheel drive setup. Even the skinny tires (215/17) fitted to this vehicle makes you feel like a professional drifter.

The power plant is a two litre boxer motor designed by Subaru, and delivers a fair bit of punch (147 KW at 7000 RPM) at the higher end of the rev range.

The dynamic handling and performance has been praised by many motoring journalists, and seeing this vehicle power slide across the track looks impressive, but then Toyota decided to offer an automatic transmission option. Unfortunately this automatic transmission, with its paddle shift option, kills every redeemable quality this 86 has to offer. It is almost impossible to exploit any of the fun factor or driving dynamics with the automatic gearbox, so my advice would be to stick with the manual unless you are only buying the 86 for its looks.  

So if you’re looking for a sporty two seater with good looks at a reasonable price, then the manual 86 may be for you.

The 86 is offered in a standard specification (manual) for just under R300,000, a high specification with a manual 6 speed transmission (R334,500) as well as a 6 speed automatic (R351,900).