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Thrilling Toyota GT86 on Test By Brian Foley

The Toyota GT86 is not exactly in the supercar league, both performance and price wise, but there is plenty of power for thrills in a sporty car that needs to be driven with finesse and a certain amount of controlled enthusiasm to be enjoyed to the full.

The GT86 is a joint design venture with Subaru, following the Toyota-Subaru alliance in 2005. The Toyota is a traditional front engine/rear drive design in a low slung coupe that measures a compact 4240mm in o/a lenght, and is acctually 7mm lower than the Porsche Cayman. It certainly has a go faster look even when standing still, accentuated by the multi-spoke 17 inch alloys, deep front apron and neat rear spoiler. Toyota might call it a 4-seater GT with a little tongue-in-cheek, for the rear quarters are more suited to children than average Euro-size adults. There is little boot space for luggage, but there is lots of space for all kinds of everything if the back seats are unoccupied.

The cockpit is really sporty with bucket seats for maximum comfort and support, the usual adjustable steering wheel, lots of instruments and many sporty touches. Although the GT86 is low to the ground, the wide opening doors allow easy entry and exit. Looking out over the long bonnet is a reminder of many past sporty Toyotas.

Rather than popping in an off the shelf Toyota motor, the Toyota-Subaru boffins opted for Subaru's famous boxer engine in 2.0 litre capacity. Rally followers are familiar with the Subaru engine in turbocharged form with its distinctive exhaust note. The flat-four engine in the GT86 is a non-turbo unit, with direct petrol injection. It revs freely to 7400rpm and max. power is a healthy 200bhp. The GT86 comes with 6-speed manual or automatic transmiison at the same list price of €39,895. The gear change on the manual version tested was a little notchy, and the automatic transmission with paddle change might be a preferred option.

Max. speed is 220km/h or around 130mph. Acceleration from zero to 100km takes 7.6 seconds which is not exacly supersonic , but its the continuous surge of power through the gears that makes the GT86 a real pleasure to drive. The electric power steering is very responsive and positive, and the handling is neutral but could become tricky if unduly provoked into a tail slide in the lower gears and particularly on wet roads. Such nonsense can be avoided by delicate throttle control and by leaving the traction control switch in the on position. Ride comfort is best on smooth roads, as the suspension is a bit hard on poor surfaces.

The Toyota GT86 is a car for the long road, but of its many plus factors its practicality for everyday driving in city and country alike makes it a most acceptable mode of transport for the small family with style.