The sports car still lives in the all-new 2022 Toyota GR86
If you’re the kind of driver that wants a vehicle to do as much of the driving for you as possible, well, the new 2022 Toyota GR86 isn’t for you. However, if you’re an enthusiast who enjoys being totally involved in every aspect of the driving experience, read on.
In an automotive age where autonomous and electric vehicles are all the range in the industry, small, sporty, rear-wheel drive coupes built with entertainment as its main priority just seems out of place. But that is just what the GR86 is all about. Back in 2012, Toyota teamed up with Subaru to create a small affordable 2+2 sports coupe. The result was the Scion (a division of Toyota) FR-S and the Subaru BRZ. Both cars were nearly identical, sharing the same Subaru naturally aspirated boxer (flat) four-cylinder engine. When the Scion brand was cancelled in 2017, the FR-S was rebranded as the Toyota 86.
Now for 2022, the 86 (and its Subaru clone) have been redesigned and have received some major enhancements, including a new name for the Toyota version, which is now called the GR86.
The GR86 (GR is in reference to Toyota’s Gazoo Racing team) style has changed slightly but is still recognizable and continues with its long hood flanked by oversized fender flares. It’s front fender and side sills as well as the rear spoiler appear to mimic that of Toyota’s other sports car, the Supra. Overall, the GR86 is a good-looking, well-proportioned car.
Like its predecessor, the GR86 uses a horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine up front to power its rear wheels. But displacement has grown from 2.0 liters to 2.4 liters, thus increasing horsepower from 205 hp to 228 hp and torque reaching 185 lb-ft, up from 157 lb-ft. While the GR86 still doesn’t produce huge amounts of power, the increase is a nice welcome and is noticeable. As before, the GR86 can be had with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.
Inside, the GR86 features a simple, no-frills interior, which seems like a total contrast to most cars today. The cabin feels as if it is there to serve a purpose – nothing more, nothing less. The deeply sculpted seats are firm and heavily bolstered yet are quite comfortable. The dash sports all the vital gauges in a simple digital display, and the center stack houses the touchscreen and climate control systems. The GR86 is listed as a 2+2 meaning there is a back seat, but it is more ornamental than functional. I know I wouldn’t want to spend any time back there.
But behind the small steering wheel, it’s a different story. The driving position and the view out over the flared fenders is artfully attractive. Start the car, rev the flat four and put the shifter into gear (the tester is equipped with the automatic transmission) and you’ll swear the GR86 is as athletic and poised as Josh Allen is in the pocket. The steering is race-car tight, and the body control is spot on. Its tight chassis and low, evenly distributed weight give the car amazing dynamics and superb reflexes. But the excellent steering and tight suspension does come at a small price – the ride is stiff and road noise is high.
The added horsepower may not sound like much on paper, but it is a meaningful improvement in a 2850-pound car. The extra power enables the GR86 to hit 60 mph nearly a second quicker, in about 5.5 seconds for the manual-equipped cars. Automatics can do the same sprint in about 6-seconds. Along with the bump in power, the engine is livelier, more responsive, and eager to hit its 7500-rpm redline. The sounds emitted through its exhaust are great too, minimizing the need of an audio system.
The GR86 is available in two trim levels. The Base, which starts at $28,725, comes with 17″ wheels, dual-zone climate control and an 8” touchscreen infotainment system. Move up to the Premium and the GR86 is fitted with 18″ wheels (along with performance tires), heated seats, aluminum pedals and a blind spot monitor system. The tester is the latter and carries an MSRP of $33,220.
The GR86 is a plain and simple back-to-basics sport coupe. Since day-one it has always been a small, inexpensive, lightweight, fun-to-drive car, and this new iteration of it follows that same recipe. In a time when manufactures are focusing on automatically doing this and that, it’s rewarding to be able to find a vehicle that focuses on making the most out of a driving experience. The Toyota GR86 is everything you could ask for in an entry-level sports car.
– Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2022 Toyota GR86 Premium
Base Price: $31,800.00
Price as Tested: $33,220.00
Layout: front-engine / rear-wheel drive
Engine: 2.4 liter flat (Boxer) four- cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Horsepower: 228 horsepower
Torque: 185 ft/lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 21 city / 31 highway
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