My Toyota 86 at 75,000km – update 10
My Toyota 86 is four years old in age, but about sixty in car years.
THE AVERAGE AUSTRALIAN car mileage is around 14,000km, and my car has just ticked over 75,000km in four years. That’s over 18,000km per year, which is pretty remarkable considering I use my Ford Ranger for longer trips and spend a lot of time driving press cars. Sometimes my workload with review cars is such that the 86 sits there for a month without being driven, and when it is on the road it’s pretty much direct to one of Phillip Island, Sandown, Winton or Calder Park to be driven as fast as I know how.
But never any longer than a month. That’s because no matter what’s in my driveway I still look forwards to driving my own 86. Yes, the brand new press cars are interesting, many have their own allure and some I’ve wished I could keep – the MX-5, AMG 45, LC200, F-PACE and Everest to name a few.
But I still keep coming back to my 86, and this morning as the odo reached the milestone I thought about why. After all, many people have sold their 86s, losing interest. That happens with sports cars – you’ve heard of “dog years”, well car years are a similar concept and I reckon four real years is sixty “car years”. Yet I still love my 86, and I’m going to try and explain why.
I think it’s the combination of rawness and handling, mixed with reliability and practicality.
Sure, the 86 has the usual electronic aids, but the car feels old-school direct. Modern vehicles seem to filter everything the driver does – when you press the accelerator you aren’t increasing the revs, you’re sending a request to a computer which will deal with the request as it sees fit. When you turn a corner, unseen electronics help rotate the car. Tiny little noises are designed out. Everything is touchscreen, adding to the sense of disconnection.
You don’t feel any of that in the 86. It seems Toyota have taken an approach of driver-first, as opposed to just talking about it like most others. That means the aids there to step in when limits are reached, rather than help the driver before the limits are reached. This is the way sports cars should be, as never have I met an enthusiast who is excited about having a computer help them corner. And the 86 has an immediate throttle response, you can feel whether or not you’re smooth with the power delivery, the gears snick into place, the handling is direct, quick, sharp…choose your adjective. If you like involvement, the car is a challenge and reward.
There’s something else too. It’s not possible to love a car, no matter how great a drive it is or how beautiful it looks, unless it doesn’t cause you heartache. Well, I can’t anyway. So many people end up selling cars they love because they just can’t take another breakdown, another bill, another problem, but on this score the 86 is outstanding. It has never caused me a single problem, despite spending a lot of its life being driven very fast on racetracks. It’s utterly, utterly reliable, helped by very frequent servicing.
And, for its size and design, practical too. Two rear seats, sort of, a decent-sized boot, full-sized spare wheel, glovebox…I love the way the 86 can be a useful tool for everyday life instead of just a track toy like say a Caterham or Elise. It’s even safe, as unusually for a dedicated sports car design, there’s a 5-star safety rating too.
Do I have a criticism? Yes, the fit and finish is in some cases appalling. The paintjob is thin, and my bonnet looks like it’s been blasted with a shotgun. The steering wheel looks worse than other cars I owned for ten years. However, both can be fixed easily enough should I want to, but there’s a part of me that wants to leave everything as-is. Each mark and wear and tear is a little memory, and this car, like all truly great cars, is great to me because of what I’ve done with it, not because of what it is.
OTHER 86 UPDATES:
- Toyota 86 review long term – 1 – welcome
- Toyota 86 review long term – 2- brakes and errands
- Toyota 86 review long term – 3- model and dents
- Toyota 86 review long term – 4- reliability
- Toyota 86 review long term – 5- daily practicality
- Toyota 86 review long term – 6 – crash, and wheels
- Toyota 86 review long term – 7 – track test
- Toyota 86 review long term – 8 – automatic vs manual
- Toyota 86 review long term – 9 – harness bar
- Toyo R1R Track Test
- CAMS offers an easy way to get on track
- Track days for beginners
- Why I like driving in circles