It takes only a few minutes behind the wheel of
the 2022 Toyota GR86
to reach one important conclusion: If you liked the car it replaces—the 86, whose name was 86’d in favor of “GR86” this time around—you’ll love this one. We said as much after
our first drive in the new GR86
, and we’ll say it again now that we have the much-improved first-test figures in hand for both the manual- and automatic-transmission GR86s.
Flat-Four, Inflated Performance
Still rear-wheel drive, lightweight, and powered by a flat-four engine, the 2022 Toyota GR86 harshly outshines its predecessor at the test track. Credit largely goes to the engine,
a larger 2.4-liter unit
that replaces the old 86’s 2.0-liter. Output jumps to 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque regardless of which transmission you choose; before, the self-shifting 86 gave up 5 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque to the 205-hp, 156-lb-ft stick-shift variant.
The 2.4-liter engine’s torque curve is beefier, and the old 2.0-liter’s odd torque dip midway through the rev range was dragged out back behind the shed and smothered to death. Likewise, the flat-four’s more egregiously tractor-like noises and vibes are reduced. What’s left is an engine that, while hardly Honda-like in its smoothness and rev-happiness, is at least now vaguely well-matched to the two-door GR86’s sports car persona. As soon as the tachometer needle swings past 3,000 rpm or so, the bigger flat-four comes alive, snarling its way toward redline deliberately, if not exactly quickly, while delivering solid pull.
Driving away from a stop, the new Toyota GR86’s engine actually seems interested in forward progress. The old 86 would stumble around like a sprinter who tripped over the starting blocks before gathering itself and straining up to speed. Metaphors aside, that sensation translated in our testing to a 0-to-60-mph run of just 5.8 seconds for the manual-transmission GR86 and 6.6 seconds for the automatic-transmission model. The stick-shift version is 0.6 second quicker to 60 mph than a 2017 Toyota 86 we tested, and it
matches the last Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
(the Miata with a folding hardtop) we evaluated. The new automatic transmission variant is quicker, too (by 0.3 second), and it shows you just how much extra torque the GR86 has onboard—and how much lower it peaks in the rev range.
Looking at the new Toyota GR86’s quarter-mile times backs this up: The manual GR86 chopped the old 86’s time from 14.9 seconds to 14.3 and hit the speed trap 4.1 mph faster at 98.7 mph. Once again, even the automatic-transmission GR86 also out-performs the previous-generation stick-shift 86’s quarter-mile time by 0.1 second and 1.6 mph.
Lost In Transmission?
Previously, when anyone asked us which of the two available transmissions they should choose in the old 86, we didn’t hesitate to select the manual. Pose the same question about the 2022 Toyota GR86, and we say the same thing. Not only is the stick-shift model quicker, but a six-speed manual—which in this application offers improved shift feel—just seems more appropriate for a sports coupe like this.
However, the optional six-speed automatic isn’t an immediate write-off if there exists some reason you can’t operate a clutch pedal and put your right arm to work, but its lazy shift logic and seeming allergy to lower gears (carryover problems from the previous car) are more glaring when set against the new GR86’s more notable power. Thumb the Sport button or select the “Track” setting on the center console, and the automatic puts its best foot forward, though it’s hardly perfect. And forget using the shift paddles behind the steering wheel; you’ll give up on them after the first few waiting-room experiences for an up- or downshift.
A Better, Beefier Body
It won’t shine through in any of our objective test measurements, but the GR86’s platform—an evolution of the old car’s—is an altogether more solid-feeling piece. The entire structure is more rigid, and it announces as much every time it helps the suspension absorb ruts and bumps with a satisfying “
Don’t get us wrong: The 2022 Toyota GR86 remains an affordable, firmly suspended small sports car; while the ride quality benefits from more refined tuning of the bushings, springs, and dampers, things can get busy and loud over broken pavement. But there is far less suspension crashing over these sorts of roads than before, and combined with the engine’s more dulcet tones, the GR86 exudes a newfound sense of substance the old car sorely lacked.
Regardless of your chosen transmission, this Toyota still slides on command even though the grip levels are higher. The extra grip comes primarily from the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires that come with the up-level Premium package, as tested here. Toyota (and Subaru, its partner on this car) famously equipped the last-generation GR86 and BRZ sports cars with—and we’re not kidding here—Prius hybrid tires, which were cheap, readily available, and exaggerated the rear-drive cars’ penchant for throwing their tails wide in corners, even at low speeds.
The same fun spirit remains, but again, the limits are now higher. We recorded 0.98 g (average) of lateral grip on the skidpad in the manual version and a nice, round 1.00 g in the automatic. Both GR86s we tested leveraged their newfound grip and power to deliver hugely better figure-eight times of 24.7 seconds (manual) and 24.8 (automatic) at an identical 0.76-g average. Though we haven’t tested the base-tire versions, expect them to give up some ultimate grabbiness; the last 86 we tested scored an OK 0.87 g maximum-lateral grip on its all-season rubber. Accessing all of the grip is a snap: Simply press and hold the stability-control button on the center console for a few seconds to activate a higher-threshold setting that allows for some sliding without fully defeating ESC is available via the “Track” button next to it.
Of note to anyone considering buying a 2022 Toyota GR86 and taking it to a track: Upgrade the brakes. Stops from 60 mph took a decent 107-108 feet, but the brakes succumbed to fade after a few short lapping sessions on the Streets of Willow road course. Though we never had any foot-to-the-floor butt-pinchers, overall braking performance plainly dropped off after relatively limited hard use.
The braking issue didn’t really rear its head out on fast real-world roads. In fact, as before, the GR86 can be driven to what feels like close to its limits without flagrantly violating speed laws. You can peg the throttle, hang the tail out in little slides in slower corners, and generally have yourself a riotous, sweaty time on ribbons of good pavement. It’s a special feeling among modern performance cars, most of which are so muscular and grippy that exploring their full capabilities could land you in jail. Or worse.
Nice Price, Richer Cabin
Toyota (and Subaru) left the best parts of the sports car alone, particularly the legs-out, ass-on-the-floor seating position; upright, small-diameter steering wheel; and well-bolstered seats. The driver’s relationship to the primary controls is spot-on. However, some among our ranks complained that the clutch take-up point is too high in the pedal stroke.
We’d also like it if some of the information displayed in the new partially digitized gauge cluster was presented in larger, easier-to-read font. Switching over to the “Track” drive mode swaps the round, needle-less tachometer (think of a round bar graph, with the bar expanding and contracting as engine speeds change) for a clearer horizontal ribbon-style bar tach; either way, speed is displayed via smallish digits.
Otherwise, the well-bolstered seats are comfortable, materials quality throughout the interior is improved, and there is a larger touchscreen running Subaru’s menu structure and which brings standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the mix. The HVAC controls include nice, large round dials for temperature and fan speed, and large paddle-like push tabs for fan direction, defroster, and zone-sync settings. Oh, and you can still fold the rear seats flat and fit a full spare set of (mounted) wheels and tires back there.
The best part? Toyota is
charging customers barely any more for the new 2022 GR86 than it did for the old 86
. A base model runs $28,725; the Premium gear you see here brings that to $31,325 with the stick shift, and $32,825 with the automatic. If you want the 18-inch Michelin PS4 tires, a bigger ducktail rear spoiler, heated seats, and LED headlights that steer with the front wheels, go for the Premium. If you don’t need or want that stuff or the extra grip, the entry-level model is an even better deal.
Source: Read Full Article