Toyota updates the 86
Toyota updates the 86, tweaking the suspension and adding some cosmetic enhancements and bumping up the price of the GTS variant.
TWO YEARS ON FROM ITS LAUNCH and the 86 has been a resounding success for Toyota worldwide and in particular Australia, which is the third-largest market for the car and 10% of the global sales. More than a good sales story, the 86 has along with the FJ Cruiser started to make Toyota cool again, giving it some needed cachet and halo effect. So perhaps it is no surprise that this update is minor.
The two variants of GT and GTS remain, and both have improved suspension – new mounts (presumably bushes), lower-friction oil and better seals. This led to a re-valving of the damping in general with a focus on wet-road handling and initial turn-in, while also improving the ride. Toyota say this results in “greater responsiveness and more communicative handling” which given how good the 86 is already is going to be an impressive achievement. Toyota do not mention a change in spring rates, ride height or other suspension-related tunes.
We’re yet to drive the new car, but changes of this nature tend not to be more hype than reality and not particularly noticeable. Owners who really do want to change the handling would already have ditched the stock suspension in favour of adjustable aftermarket coilover systems. For example, some people prefer to tame the tail-happiness of the 86 for easier driveability and lower laptimes, others just want a more comfortable ride. The note about wet-weather handling was interesting, as the 86 is quite happy to step its tail out around roundabouts (quickly checked by stability control though), particularly if you use second gear when you should be in third.
Toyota are also continuing their strategy to make a cult of their chief engineers, with several mentions of 86 boss designer Tetsuya Tada and what he’s done to the car. Tada-San visited Australia last year and as a result there are numerous 86s with rather special signatures on their fascias!
Aside from the suspension, the GT now gets the instrument cluster from the GTS with the digital speedo as well as the analogue version, and a rev indicator to let you know when to change gear as redline approaches – no, not an eco system! This is the 86, not a Prius. The GT auto gets a display that tells you what gear you’re in.
The GTS gets a reversing camera, and what Toyota claim is a sportier carbon-look motif for the instrument panel surround.
Both variants get shark-fin antennas, which will put a tiny dent in the sales of importers, and owners will have to think of perhaps a whale fin or tuna fin if they want to be different now. There is aerodynamic advantage claimed for the fin, which is probably true in theory but if it was noticeable there would be revised 0-100, fuel consumption and top speed figures. And there aren’t, so it’s cosmetic. Further on the looks front, there are two new shades of white and silver to choose from.
Prices for the GT remain at the $29,990 for the manual and $32,790, with the GTS prices increasing by $500 and $800 respectively to $35,990 and $38,790.
So all up, a tiny upgrade, but why change a winning formula. Everything is available aftermarket except for the instrument panel update on the GT, so there’s no reason for existing owners to upgrade. The better panel is a nice to have, you’re unlikely to miss it if you never had it so I’d consider runout GT models and saving cash over new versions with it. For the GTS an extra $500/$800 for what is essentially just a reversing camera is a lot, so you’re definitely better off picking up a pre-update model and rolling your own. What most people really want is another 50kW, and there are rumours but nothing definite.
Most of the sales are GTS, so Toyota clearly felt justified in increasing the prices there, but have left the less popular GT manual at an attractive, headline-grabbing price and that is good news for people like me who just want a trackday toy.
There is no word yet from Subaru on any changes to the BRZ which already has slightly different suspension tuning to the 86 and different trim levels.