The Toyota GR86: A Reborn Retro Rocket

The Toyota GR86: A Reborn Retro Rocket

The world of sports cars has a new contender, and it comes with a familiar nameplate. The Toyota GR86, released in 2022 for the 2023 model year, marks the return of an iconic vehicle known for its nimble handling and engaging driving experience. But this isn't just a rehash of the past. The GR86 is a thoroughly modern machine, building upon the legacy of its predecessor while offering significant improvements in performance, technology, and style.

A Rich Heritage Reborn

The GR86 boasts a lineage that stretches back to the 1980s with the Toyota AE86. This rear-wheel-drive coupe became a legend in the world of drifting and grassroots motorsports, earning the nickname "Hachi-Roku" (Eight-Six) for its engine displacement. The AE86, along with its successor the Scion FR-S, garnered a passionate following for its affordability, tunability, and pure driving fun.

The GR86 takes the torch from these predecessors, reviving the spirit of a driver's car in a world increasingly dominated by SUVs and crossovers. Developed in collaboration with Subaru (resulting in the Subaru BRZ, the GR86's mechanical twin), the GR86 stays true to the formula that made the original so beloved.

A Sharper Driving Experience

The heart of the GR86 lies in its new 2.4-liter, naturally-aspirated boxer engine. This four-cylinder unit produces 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, representing a significant bump in power compared to the previous generation's 200 horsepower engine. The increased power translates to a more thrilling driving experience, with a 0-60 mph time estimated around 6.3 seconds for the manual transmission variant.

The chassis of the GR86 has also been extensively reworked, offering increased rigidity and improved handling. The suspension setup is tuned for a balance between sharp handling and comfortable daily driving. The car remains rear-wheel-drive, a layout that purists will appreciate for its connection to the road and its ability to perform controlled drifts for skilled drivers.

For those who prefer a more relaxed driving experience, the GR86 offers a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. However, the enthusiast's choice will undoubtedly be the six-speed manual transmission, which provides a more direct connection to the car's performance.

Modern Tech Meets Classic Feel

The GR86 isn't all about old-school thrills. It incorporates modern technology to enhance the driving experience and cater to contemporary needs. The interior features an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. A digital instrument cluster relays vital information to the driver in a clear and concise manner. Safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

However, the interior design prioritizes driver engagement. The seats are bolstered to hold you in place during spirited driving, and the steering wheel feels nicely weighted in your hands. The overall feel is one of a cockpit designed for the driver, prioritizing control and feedback over excessive comfort features.

A Stylish Evolution

The GR86's exterior design pays homage to the past while incorporating modern aesthetics. The low, wide stance is reminiscent of the AE86, but with sharper lines and a more aggressive look. The functional air vents on the hood and front fenders hint at the car's performance capabilities. The available TRUENO edition adds a touch of nostalgia with exclusive badging and a black-wrapped hood, referencing the iconic AE86 trim level.

While undeniably a modern car, the GR86 retains a timeless quality. Its design is unlikely to become outdated quickly, appealing to those who appreciate classic sports car proportions and a focus on function over excessive ornamentation.

A Compelling Choice for Enthusiasts

The Toyota GR86 occupies a unique space in the automotive market. In an era dominated by powerful, high-tech sports cars, the GR86 offers a refreshingly pure driving experience. Its focus on driver engagement, affordability, and a relatively simple, naturally-aspirated engine makes it a breath of fresh air for enthusiasts who yearn for a car that prioritizes fun over outright power.

Whether you're a seasoned driver looking for a weekend track car or a newcomer seeking an engaging and rewarding first sports car, the GR86 is a compelling option. It offers a rich heritage, modern performance improvements, and a timeless design, all at a competitive price point. The GR86 isn't just a car; it's a return to the fundamentals of what makes driving enjoyable.

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