Review of: 2017 Toyota 86 2dr Cpe Auto
2017 Toyota 86: New name, more maturity
By David Miller
Dec. 6, 2016
Isn’t it ironic that the Toyota 86 is the new name for the defunct Scion FR-S? The term “86” is used quite a bit in the food industry and means to get rid of something or an item that is no longer available.
But for Toyota, the 86 (pronounced “eight-six”) is the start of something new – an ironic twist to its American slang meaning. Those numbers mean something completely different to Toyota and represent an homage to both the spirit and free-wheeling action of the Toyota 2000 GT and AE86.
The 86 number comes directly from the AE86 created in the ’80s. It burst onto the scene as a rare rear-wheel-drive (RWD) lightweight Corolla coupe and hatch made famous for rallying and drifting and later idolized in Japanese movie culture. On top of that, the 2000 GT RWD put Japan on the map in the ’60s as a country capable of producing fun, sporty cars.
For 2017, the Toyota 86 may have new badging, but it remains mechanically connected to its twin, the Subaru BRZ. The low-to-the-ground, fun-to-drive appeal stays intact with a few styling changes and modification to its suspension.
Pros & Cons
- + Sharp handling
- + Value for money
- + Attention-getting styling
- - Automatic transmission
- - Rear seat space
- - Outdated infotainment
The 86 is one of those cars that grabs attention. It’s not from a growly engine or styling gimmick, but from a simplistic sporty silhouette that appeals to your inner child.
The most striking feature is a long hood that brings you back to the old school sports car days and sets a tone, only made better by a newer, wider grille. A big improvement is the standardization of LEDs throughout the 86, elevating its look to a younger customer base that’s always looking for value.
Sleek lines and gills that improve accent the car’s sides and improve airflow, finished off by twisted-spoke 17-inch wheels that keep the sporty momentum going to the car’s rear. It’s in the back where you’ll find a solid re-drawn bumper and a diffuser that improves the car’s aerodynamics.
Like any low sports car, it may be difficult for some to slip in and out of the 86. For those who can manage such a maneuver, that’s just part of the car’s charm, which grows on you over time.
Once inside, you’re treated to a new design that complements the car’s simplistic exterior makeup—a mature step away from red stitching and plastic touches. Toyota has done a smart job in placing Granlux synthetic suede on the dash and doors to improve its appearance without building up the cost of the car. The suede not only keeps it clean and avoids cheesy flash, but retains the car’s driver-focused appeal.
The front bucket seats strap you in for what promises to be a hair-raising ride, yet retain a touch of room for extra comfort. Taller individuals won’t have a problem with headroom, and there’s ample space for your legs. The only issue one may have is with the seating and steering wheel position. I like to sit more upright and closer to the wheel, but in the 86, the steering wheel can only be raised so high, forcing me to lower the seat for less-than-ideal steering comfort.
As for the rear seat and trunk space, don’t expect much. The 86 has its pros and cons, and when it comes to occupants, this car is best suited for only two adults. If you want to use those rear seats for children with short legs—go for it; otherwise, only groceries or gear should be placed in the back or in the shallow trunk, which to its credit can fit a pair of mid-sized suitcases.
Whatever name this car wears — Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, or Toyota 86 — none of them have been known for high-tech gadgetry. They are driver-minded vehicles that feature infotainment units for complementary listening.
The Toyota/Scion infotainment units have always been better than Subaru’s, and for 2017, a 6.1-inch touchscreen is the base version. This unit won’t add much excitement, but it makes it up for that with a standard rear view camera and easy-to-use buttons and knobs to fiddle with. A premium display audio system with navigation is an option for $1,260.60.
Not only has the size of the steering wheel been reduced to properly suit the size of the 86, Toyota has added safety and ergonomic modifications to it: audio and info buttons are now found there to reduce distraction and improve driver convenience.
Simply put: the Toyota 86 is fun to drive. The ride isn’t about its power – 200 hp and 151 lb.-ft. of torque derived from a 2.0-litre four-banger in the automatic – but rather its lightweight construction, low-to-the-ground design and skillful handling prowess with rear-wheel-drive.
The model for this test drive was the six-speed automatic transmission version that weighs in at 1,274 kg, a touch more than the manual gearbox model. What it gains in weight it doesn’t make up for with a slower response time and an inability keep the car in lower gears. To make matters worse, the manual offers up an additional 5 hp and 5 lb.-ft. of torque. With positives stacking in the manual version’s favour, we have to understand that not even all sports car buyers can drive a stickshift or want to, so at least an option is provided for these drivers.
The 86 is perfect for the younger generation or an individual who wants that fast car feel without having to pay a hefty price. From an onlookers perspective, the 86 doesn’t go that fast, but a different perspective is found in the driver’s seat. From the captain’s chair, it sure feels peppy, and that sensation only increases when you approach the engine’s redline.
Place it in sport mode – the only way to fully enjoy a spirited drive – and hit those corners with gusto. It’s in its handling where the 86 really shines, through a balancing act that keeps the car steady and direct without much body roll, a change from the slippery back end that the FR-S had. A lot of that stability has to do with a new suspension setup that has re-tuned spring rates in the front and back and added a thicker anti-roll bar in the rear.
One of the positives in having the automatic tranny comes down to fuel economy. The official ratings are alarmingly different between the automatic and manual: 9.9 L/100 km in the city and 7.3 L/100 km on the highway for the automatic, while the manual is rated at 11.3 and 8.3, respectively. As noticeable as those differences are, the numbers seem to reflect the average driving tendencies of manual and automatic drivers.
During my week of testing, I managed to achieve 9.6 L/100 km with a 80/20 city to highway split.
There are limited options when it comes to the sports-oriented 86. It really comes down to whether you want the manual version at $29,580, or the automatic at $30,780; both reasonably priced for the fun that’s derived. It’s a perfect starter car for a young enthusiast who’s looking for something with a little pep, but needs time and money to move up to that luxury sports performer.
The 86 is not about the technological bells and whistles inside the car; all the technology you need is what’s under the hood and body. If you’re looking for fancy infotainment, connectivity or a suite of safety technology, you’re better off looking for a more conservative sedan.
The 2017 Toyota 86 has been re-badged and brought into the mainstream fold. But don’t worry, that fun-loving excitement has been retained and tweaked for more balance when that need to toss it around the track arises.
The interior receives a more sophisticated, yet subtle look, but don’t be fooled, this car is all about that action. The Scion brand may be dead, but it lives on in the youthful driving spirit of the 86.