DRIVEN: Toyota 86 2,0 High

GAUTENG – Toyota SA hasn’t had the best of times with the Toyota 86, with sales figures not quite as high as the firm would probably like. There may be any number of reasons for this, but the Japanese brand has not been deterred.

For fans of driving thrills, there is little to rival a rear-wheel-drive car and Toyota SA continues to offer the 86, which has recently been facelifted (see pricing here).

What’s new outside?

To help differentiate the revised model from its predecessor, there is a new front spoiler (incorporating a lower, wider air dam), a more pronounced bottom lip and a redesigned foglamp section, including the repositioning of the indicator bulbs to within the headlamp cluster.

The rear gains a fresh wing design, complete with end plates on High spec derivatives. A new 17-inch alloy wheel design and a blade section within the side vents are further changes to the 86’s visage.

And inside

There isn’t too much new in the cabin. An auxiliary TFT screen now displays info to the driver in High spec models. A slightly thinner-rimmed steering wheel replaces the old item and now features remote controls for the audio system as well.

More changes under the skin

Under the skin, there are a few suspension tweaks. New spring and damper rates – firmer at the front, softer aft – combine with a fatter anti-roll bar at the rear and improved overall rigidity to help sharpen up the car’s cornering prowess.

Peak power from the 2,0-litre naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed four-cylinder petrol motor remains at 147 kW with 205 N.m. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or six-speed auto transmission. Torque is still sent to the rear wheels, where it is doled out by a limited slip differential.

Do the changes make a difference?

At the recent launch event, held at Red Star Raceway (RSR), Toyota SA kindly provided a pre-facelift 86 model for us to sample. Driven back to back, the changes carried out on the suspension are immediately evident.

The new car rides with a higher degree of pliancy and displays less body roll in the corners. More notably, turn-in is much sharper than the outgoing model, providing more precision when attacking a set of corners, such as the tight infield at RSR.

Verdict

A fact of South African motoring life is that the bulk of new car sales takes place at the power-sapping reef, which really blunts the performance of naturally aspirated engines. In a sea of turbocharged hatchbacks, the 86 is left a little floundering, which is a shame because it is a really entertaining car.

The changes conducted have sharpened an already capable platform, it’s just a pity that Toyota didn’t give it an extra injection of power to help lift its game.

As a driving machine, there is very little wrong with the Toyota 86. It can provide thrills by the bucket-load and when you drive one at the coast, which is where CAR is based, it’ll perform exactly as advertised.

Fast facts

Model: Toyota 86 2,0 High
Price: R494 900
Engine: 2,0-litre, naturally aspirated, flat-four
Power: 147 kW @ 7 000 r/min
Torque: 205 N.m @ 6 400 - 6 600 r/min
0-100 km/h: 7,6 seconds
Top Speed: 226 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 7,8 L/100 km
CO2: 180 g/km
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Maintenance Plan: 4 year/60 000 km