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Toyota GT86: Test Drive Review

Date: 28 May 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Sports
P11D price: £24,995
Key rival: Audi TT

It may not be a core fleet model, or even a volume retail seller, but the GT86 coupe is a crucial car for Toyota.

The Japanese company is attempting to shake off its reputation for producing automotive white goods - cars that do their job perfectly well but lack any sort of desirability - and has come up with a back-to-basics sports car of the old school.

The GT86 is powered by a 2.0-litre boxer engine (a staple for Subaru, which collaborated on the development) driving the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. It's small, light and slender and, though it isn't likely to rival the Avensis for corporate sales, it is critical in terms of raising the brand's profile.

As a driver's car, it's superb. The engine's power is high up in the rev range, which necessitates hard driving, but that's all part of the appeal. The steering is scalpel sharp and the handling is among the most responsive and enjoyable for a sub-six-figure car. The ride, while firm, was pliant enough not to be uncomfortable during our test abroad, although UK roads will throw up more of a challenge.

As for running costs, fleets are better off with the automatic. It suffers a little in terms of performance, with a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds and a 130mph top speed, and a manual will always be the purist's choice for this kind of car. But put those elements to one side and bear in mind that, in practice, the auto actually suits the car quite well, and you're looking at a big improvement. The auto musters a claimed 39.8mpg and emits 164g/km, placing it four BIK bands lower than the manual at 24%. The downside is that you're looking at a £1500 premium on the P11D value.

If you're blessed enough for BIK and economy to be lower down your agenda, then the GT86 appears good value. Spec includes Bluetooth, cruise control and dual-zone climate control among other luxuries, and there are few modern cars, the Mazda MX-5 excepted, that provide such a pure driving experience for £25,000 or less.

It lacks the polish of more sedate but popular coupes with which it has to compete, though. In typical Japanese sports car style, a few cabin materials seem scratchy and fragile, while there's also a noticeable vibration through the interior when selecting first gear - these are aspects that won't wash with Audi TT and VW Scirocco converts.

Enthusiasts will go mad for the GT86, and Toyota is even anticipating a certain amount of contract hire business. Higher than average running costs and limited practicality will keep it off the menu for most business drivers, but there's no denying that the GT86 adds a welcome dose of desirability to a brand that has left many feeling cold of late.

Toyota GT86
P11D price£24,995-£26,495
Model price range£24,995
Fuel consumption36.2mpg
CO2 (tax) 181g/km (28%)
Service interval10,000 miles
Insurance (1-50)group n/a
Warranty5yrs 100,000mls
Boot space243 litres
Engine size/power1998cc/200hp
Top speed/0-62mph140mph/7.7secs
On sale June 2012
VerdictBrilliant to drive but
hampered by running
costs and finish


Brilliant to drive but hampered by running costs and finish