How Does Toyota’s 86 Stand Now That The Supra’s Here? Well, It’s Still Fun, But…

The 2020 GR Supra is Toyota’s latest sports car, but it isn’t their only one as the 86 was launched seven years ago as the Scion FR-S.

Like the Supra, the 86 was created as part of a collaboration, but this one involved Subaru instead of BMW. The differences don’t end there as the 86 and BRZ are virtually indistinguishable from one another, unlike the Supra and Z4 which are more differentiated.

Also Read: Our First Review Of The New 2020 Toyota Supra

We recently took a spin in the 86, while checking out the all-new Supra, and it’s interesting to see how the passage of time has affected the model.

Still A Looker After All These Years

Even though the 86 is seven years old, it still looks pretty good. Part of this is due to a minor facelift in 2017 which saw the model adopt sportier bumpers, LED lighting units and a new name as the Scion brand was phased out.

The coupe also boasts a chrome-tipped dual exhaust system and 17-inch alloy wheels. Buyers will also find an integrated rear diffuser and a rear wing on GT variants.

Unfortunately, the 86’s age is readily apparent in cabin. The biggest offender is the 7-inch infotainment system which my co-driver described as something taken straight out of the Crutchfield catalog a decade ago. The system works well enough, but it feels ancient and looks like an aftermarket add-on.

The car’s age is visible elsewhere as the 86 has old school LED displays and mediocre plastics. Of course, these are minor issues and hardly surprising considering the model is almost eight years old.

On the bright side, the 86 has comfortable and supportive front seats with plenty of head and legroom. The model also has two rear seats and this is a boon as you don’t have to throw your gear in the trunk all the time. They can also be used for transporting the occasional passenger, but there’s only 29.9 inches (759 mm) of legroom and 35 inches (889 mm) of headroom in back.

Other highlights include a highly legible instrument cluster with an available 4.2-inch multi-information display. The model also has stylish suede-like accents, alloy pedals and an embroidered 86 logo on the dashboard.

The entry-level model comes nicely equipped with air conditioning, power windows / locks and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Drivers will also find cruise control, a folding rear seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated backup camera display.

The 86 GT is more luxurious as it has heated front sport seats with leather bolsters and suede-like inserts. Other niceties include a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a push button ignition and silver contrast stitching.

Behind The Wheel Though, It’s A Solid Performer

Of course, sports cars are all about driving and that’s what the 86 does best. The steering on the car is phenomenal as it feels perfectly weighted and completely natural. In fact, I prefer the 86’s electric power steering system over the one used on the Supra. However, we only had a relatively short time with both models so that’s just an initial impression.

The handling is also impressive thanks to a standard limited-slip differential and a nearly perfect front to rear weight distribution. Speaking of the latter, the coupe is one of the lightest sports cars on the market as it tips the scales at 2,776 lbs (1,259 kg). This makes it 766 lbs (347 kg) lighter than the Ford Mustang EcoBoost.

The 86’s low weight also helps to make the 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine feel more powerful than it is. When paired to a six-speed manual, it develops 205 hp (153 kW / 208 PS) and 156 lb-ft (211 Nm) of torque. A six-speed automatic is also available, but it comes with a lower output of 200 hp (149 kW / 203 PS) and 151 lb-ft (204 Nm) of torque.

The manual is a good fit for the car and over 30% of 86 customers opt for the stick. It’s not hard to see why as the manual offers crisp and rewarding shifts.

The engine felt perfectly adequate on the twisty back roads of rural Virginia, but we certainly wouldn’t have minded if there was an extra 20-30 hp (15-22 kW / 20-30 PS) and a bit more torque. Don’t get us wrong, the performance is quite good, but it could be better.

The 2019 Toyota 86 is currently available and pricing starts at $26,655 – excluding a delivery, processing and handling fee of $930. The 2020 model will arrive later this year and it will be headlined by the new Hakone Edition. It features an exclusive green paint job, 17-inch bronze wheels and a two-tone leather and Alcantara interior.

more photos...

Live picture credits: Michael Gauthier for Carscoops

  • Loquacious Borborygmus

    It really could feel quite different with a bit more torque and the loss of the dip in it around 4k rpm.

  • Mr. EP9

    This car started out great and if Toyota/Subaru kept striking while the iron was still hot they could have made it a success for much longer. Now it’s purchased primarily by people who don’t care about having a fun driving experience. What a shame. They had an opportunity to turn this into a really great performance car with an affordable price tag had they took it anywhere between 270 to 300hp but Subaru wouldn’t have it because of the stagnant WRX STI and Toyota wouldn’t do it because it would be too close to the Supra. They could have just turned up the boost on the latter models to keep them further apart from the twins but I guess not.

    • Loquacious Borborygmus

      225-240 tops with a better torque profile.
      The difference would be immense.

      • Gustavo Adriano

        And now with Supra hitting the markets it’s getting even harder to make a better substitute. The car wouldn’t be more powerful because of the Supra, a bigger displascement won’t make sense at all because the downsizing, and a Hybrid would cost a lot more money. Unfortunately…

  • TheBelltower

    If this was 1985 or 1989 and this goofy looking little car was being compared to an RX-7, it would make sense to me. Honestly, I’d probably still go for the RX7. But today, there’s a question about what a car like this ought to be. Little Celica-proportioned mainstream cars aren’t really in demand. Why go for this when you can get an WRX or GTI?

    • Loquacious Borborygmus

      It’s goofy looking to you. For others it’s the fast-dying breed of affordable coupes.
      No hatch can ever have the grace of a coupe.

      • TheBelltower

        For a coupe, it’s not a good design. It’s disproportioned with sloppy details.

        • Loquacious Borborygmus

          It’s all about opinions.
          Farewell to the coupe for the masses.

        • Smith

          Opinions are free, but I think you are inaccurate in your analysis. However, it is only your opinion, and you are entitled.

          • TheBelltower

            That’s fair. I welcome anyone that can explain why this inexpensive RWD sports car hasn’t seen much love. It’s my opinion that the style of the 86 hasn’t seduced enough people.

      • Smith

        Agree. This is a great and affordable little car for those who want the fun of a Porsche or Lotus, without the crazy price tag and speeding tickets. Can still go way beyond the speed limit and I can afford to pay the tickets because I didn’t sell the kids to buy a Porsche! (Actually, that might be an idea.)

    • Smith

      No, you cannot get a GTi or WRX for $30,000. Thats why.

    • Thegunof42 88’s

      In Australia, we have specific restrictions for those wanting a car under a learner’s permit. The WRX breaches the restrictions (Unless it’s a CVT), the GTI stays within, but is kind of boring to me anyway. So that’s why the 86 appeals to young people. It’s an affordable, sports car for those who want to get the basics of dynamic driving.

  • Harry_Wild

    It depends what you looking for. I drove it several times the 86 and BRZ. The cabin is not soundproof to save weigh and cost and you are sitting low off the ground so you hear all the road noise and bumps amplified. ,Acceleration even with the 6 speed manual is hard to come by especially acceleration on to the highway speeds, unless you start out in a long stretch of road to do the merging and not at a standing stop! Handling around corners and curved roads is nice!

    • Smith

      I have owned one for 4 years and it is more fun than any car I have had in years, since my Mini Cooper S, yes the original and real Mini Cooper S. Now it is well broken in it accelerates really well and I never have an issue with getting up to highway speeds, outrunning many other cars. And the handling is incredible, I put 255-35 18 on the rear and 225-40 18 on the front with 1/2 inch spacers and this beast can out corner anyone. So much fun I plan to buy the Hakone Edition when its available, with the performance pick of Brembo brakes and Sachs shocks, although stock suspension is actually not bad. Also looking at a Cosworth supercharger, but that is all, don’t want it to look too non-stock, keep mods under the skin.

      • Mill0048

        Same here. The handling is astonishing for the price. I have the Performance Pack and switched to Flex-Z coil-overs to get lower. The Sachs are noticeably higher quality driving kit by comparison. I wasn’t happy with the power dip and the sound. They weren’t deal breakers by any stretch, but I fixed them anyway (UEL header, overpipe, cat-back exhaust, filter and tune). Next tire replacement will be sticker than stock for extra grip. But it’s heaven. I have two highly neglected motorcycles because this car is so fun and raw.

    • Loquacious Borborygmus

      You need to drop the gears for the acceleration. It’s not ferociously fast but it will still move.
      People have become lazy and rely on the torque in a turbo’s engine rather than wind an engine out.
      That said, it is too light on torque.

  • Smith

    This is still a good looking car and unbelievable fun to drive. Unmatched b anything out there and the Supra has one huge failure, no manual tranny. BMW automatic is horrible and the shift selector is ridiculous and this makes the Supra totally inadequate. If they do a stick, it might beat out the GT86.

    • getoffme

      ZF 8-speed is horrible? Ok dummy.

  • Emoto

    At least the 86 doesn’t look like a fish drawn by a meth head.

Supercharged Huracan Performante Demonstrates What She’ll Do In A Straight Line

This lightly modified Huracan Performante crossed the half-mile line at 168 mph which, in our books, is pretty fast.

Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition Arrives In Australia Priced At AUD $53,490

While the 370Z is starting to show its age, Nissan has made it a bit more appealing with this special edition.

Production-Spec Toyota Tj Cruiser To Debut In Japan In October?

A report from Japan claims the new crossover will be unveiled on home soil at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show.

Hennessey’s Supercharged V8 VelociRaptor Shows There’s No Replacement For Displacement

Hennessey’s F-150 VelociRaptor uses a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that pumps out 758 HP.

New Corvette Z06 Reportedly Coming In Late 2021 With 800 HP

The new Corvette Z06 could have 150 hp more than its predecessor.

China Slaps US-Made Cars With 25% Tariff: BMW, Ford, Mercedes And Tesla Set To Feel The Pinch

Last time China imposed tariffs on US-made cars, imports dropped by 50%.

Audi Gets U.S. Pumped Up About RS6 With Touching ‘Avant Story’ Spot

The newly introduced 2020 Audi RS6 Avant will be available to buyers in the United States.

VW Recalling Nearly 700,000 Vehicles Over Rollaway Risk

The recall impacts more than 500,000 Jetta models.

Rtech’s Chevy Ponderosa Will Make You Forget About The Silverado HD

It’s a Chevy with a Dodge heart that produces a staggering 1,300 lb-ft of torque.

Donald Trump Attacks Automakers For Not Supporting Emissions Rollback

The U.S. president singled out Ford for coming to an agreement with the Golden State .