A car like the Toyota GR 86 isn’t supposed to happen in this age of SUVs and electrification. Small and affordable coupes like the rear-drive GR 86 are pretty much dead. And yet Toyota has just refreshed its almost one-of-a-kind sports car, and it isn’t just good, it’s great.
We adore high-powered coupes such as the 760-hp Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, but more than often their massive outputs make exploiting their capabilities on the street a lawyer-on-retainer task. In a car such as the 228-hp GR 86, there isn’t a big engine to make up for your cornering mistakes. What you do get is a sensation of speed that runs through the car’s chassis and controls.
Since the structure of the GR 86 is largely the same as the 86 that preceded it, we’d call it a major refresh and not a redesign. It does look new as Toyota changed enough of the exterior design to distinguish the new car from the old. It’s a well-proportioned and downright handsome car with a sleeker greenhouse. Toyota also strengthened the structure with front and rear reinforcements. Previously, the 86 featured an aluminum hood. The new car adds an aluminum roof and fenders to help offset the weight of the new structural components.
A very important change is under that aluminum hood. The old 2.0-liter flat-four that thrummed and moaned has been bored out to displace 2.4 liters. Horsepower rises from 205 for the manual version to 228 across the board. (Previously, the automatic made 200 horsepower.) Aside from the sound of the old engine, it had to be revved to 5400 to yield its 156 pound-feet of torque. The larger engine makes 184 pound-feet of torque at a much more usable 3700 rpm. The intake and exhaust plumbing has been smoothed out to improve airflow, and a plastic intake manifold replaces the former aluminum plenum equipped on manuals and features larger ports that feed a revised valvetrain. For the full story, check out this article from Car And Driver.