Despite the near collapse of the sports car market, Toyota will be back with an all-new version of the GR 86 for 2022. We previously got a pandemic-limited look at the sleek little model, but the Japanese automaker held back on details — until now.
Set to reach U.S. showrooms later this year, the biggest news, it seems is a more than 10% bump in power, cutting 0-60 times down to as little as 6.1 seconds – though save-the-manual fans will clearly be relieved to learn that the 2022 Toyota GR 86 also will retain a manual gearbox, one of the last cars in the segment to do so.
“Every GR car is born on the track, not in the boardroom,” Mike Tripp, the Toyota marketing vice president overseeing GT models, said during a preview at company headquarters near Dallas. The GR 86 was “designed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts,” Tripp added later.
Teaming up with Subaru again
As before, the GR 86 was developed as part of a partnership with Subaru, a move that helped the two carmakers share — and justify — the expenses involved in the program. (Toyota took a similar route to bring the bigger Supra back to market, teaming up with BMW.)
This time around, there are more visual differences between the GR 86 and Subaru’s own BRZ model, though they still share the same basic underpinnings and nearly identical specs.
“If you’re going to be in a diminishing segment, it’s important to find a partner,” said Tripp.
The two cars are virtually all new, from the platform up. And after initial work was completed, each headed off in a somewhat different direction.
“There will be tuning differences,” said Tripp, especially apparent in how the GR 86 and BRZ handle, an imperative laid down by Toyota President and serious racer Akio Toyoda.
The same — but different
Toyota – and Subaru — clearly aimed to address the biggest complaint about the original sports car, a lack of grunt. The new GR 86 now makes 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, up from 205 hp and 156 lb-ft in the original incarnation.
We’ll bet that some potential buyers will be disappointed that the figures didn’t climb even higher, but it’s still a big improvement that can be measured in 0 to 60 times.
With the standard-issue 6-speed manual, the GR 86 will now launch you off the line in just 6.1 seconds, a 0.9-second improvement. The 6-speed automatic will get you to 60 in 8 seconds flat, a full 1.4-second improvement.
Power, as nature intended, continues to be directed towards the rear wheels, no all-wheel-drive package available.
One of the critical targets for the project was trimming mass. The GR 86 makes extensive use of aluminum — for the roof, for one thing — and, to a lesser degree, composites “to keep it light on its feet, said Tripp, adding that the new sports car’s torsional rigidity also rises by 50 percent.
Two trim levels will be offered when the sports car reaches showrooms later this year. The Standard GR 86 will features 17-inch wheels shod with Michelin Primacy HP tires. The Premium will ride on 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.
New model means new tech
The Toyota GR 86 also gets some important technical upgrades, including a newer infotainment system featuring “race-inspired digital read-outs.” The 7-inch TFT gauge cluster sites alongside a new digital infotainment screen that incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard gear.
One of the benefits of working with Subaru is the use of that automaker’s EyeSight camera-based safety system in the Toyota. It pairs with Toyota’s Star Safety Sense system which includes features like forward collision warning.
The GR 86 also includes a number of advanced driver assistance systems — such as lane-departure warning and automated emergency braking — albeit with a caveat. These are only available on versions of the Toyota sports car using an automatic transmission.
More to come
During a background briefing, Tripp acknowledged that Toyota has more tricks in store for the GR 86 throughout the course of its lifecycle. Some critics faulted the automaker for not going turbo with the second-generation sports car, a decision Tripp defended by noting the need to hold down pricing. The 2022 model is widely expected to come in close to the current entry figure of $31,000.
Toyota also clearly didn’t want to encroach on the more powerful — and more expensive — Supra line.
That said, with Toyota expecting to offer a hybrid option on virtually all future models, Tripp broadly hinted that there is “a technological opportunity to do more” with the GR 86. The unspoken rest of that sentence is that a hybrid option could bring even more power, especially at launch.
Toyota confirmed yet another new “feature” it’s adding to the 2022 GR 86, a one-year membership in the National Auto Sports Association. That could encourage would be racers to take the 2022 Toyota GR 86 out onto the track.