Car News

The refreshed Toyota 86 gets lower gearing, Track Mode, changed suspension and more

Our conversation with Tetsuya Tada revealed some details of the refreshed Toyota 86 due later this year.

AT THE RECENT Festival of 86, we had the chance to talk to Tetsuya Tada at length about his views on sportscars, the 86 and what makes a car fun.

We also asked about the refreshed 86, and we asked exactly what had been changed:

Tada-san’s first answer was that “the rigidity is better”, explaining that this was achieved through a new method to construct the body panels, however the weight remains the same. 

The suspension tune has also been modified, as you’d expect given a more rigid body. One interesting change is the use of a slightly lower final drive, from 4.1 to 4.3. A final drive is the reduction ratio in the differential, and this change means that all six gears will be lower. That should marginally improve the 0-100 time (for whatever that’s worth, it’ll give the measurbators something to post about) as the car needs a change to third just before 100km/h anyway. The downside of this change is that freeway cruising will be slightly noisier as the revs will be higher…but you don’t buy an 86 to cruise in top gear so that’s not really a concern.

A 4.3 ratio isn’t as low as some are going in the aftermarket (4.55 or even 4.8), but it is good news and should make some of the not-sure-if-second-or-third corners just a bit easier, especially combined with the slight extra power – another 4kW and 9Nm. It’s not clear where the gains have been found but Tada-san confirmed there was a new intake and exhaust design.

Tada-san also says that the torque curve is now “better”, so with the new gearing and engine tweaks we’re hoping the refreshed 86 will be more of a change than we first thought.

Another change is the electronics. Tada-san says “the stability control [VSC in Toyota-speak] is improved, the controller has a new rhythm.” At present the 86 has three basic modes of stability control – normal, Sport and Off. There’s also an engine traction control button but that’s completely useless. In the refresh, Sport Mode is gone, replaced by a Track Mode, and Tada-san says it will be smoother and improved. The current Sport mode is effective, but compared to other sportscars is somewhat abrupt in its operation…nothing, nothing then on. Still, on a fast race track like Phillip Island I’ve found no difference in laptimes with VSC Sport engaged or VSC entirely off as by the time VSC Sport kicks in you’re sufficiently sideways to be slow anyway, at least on a fast track.

One problem with the 86 for lovers of motorkhanas and autocrosses is the electric power steering becoming overwhelmed so it was good to hear there is an upgrade on the new model.

Read the full interview -> Tetsuya Tada talks to Practical Motoring.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper