Old fashioned sports cars always had something of slender hold on the market. As vehicles evolved over the years and generally got larger and more versatile, two-seaters seemed more and more like a frivolous, self-centered luxury meant for people with too much money.
But sports cars, like a baudy, naughty night out, also represented freedom, high spirits and fun. So, it’s nice to see some of that old-fashioned spirit, along with beautiful lines and proportions, lives on in the 2023 Toyota GR86 Premium with its two seats and 6-speed manual transmission.
The GR86 looks great parked or out on the road and the 2.4-liter Boxer motor, packs a solid amount of punch, which goes nicely with the car’s high spirits and dashing appearance, which has been augmented by a long list of contemporary safety features and an up-to-date entertainment system and trunk large enough for a couple of suitcases.
I found the appearance of the GR86 draws attention during the week I spent with it. It turned heads and one car buff parked along Woodward Avenue told me, “I like your car, it’s beautiful.” The car has a short wheelbase that from one angle seems to make it short and stubby. But it has graceful lines and nice proportions that make good use of the car’s rear-wheel drive mechanical layout.
The car also features a functional “wing” at the sweeping hood over the engine compartment, laid back windshield and curving roof line to give the car a bit more character. The light fixtures, front and rear, are nicely integrated into the car’s overall design as are 18-inch wheels with their distinctive look.
As one might expect, the Toyota G86 has a compact cabin. Toyota says the car is a two-plus-two, but the rear seat is almost inaccessible, which is fine because the two heated, suede-covered front seats are quite comfortable, and the driver’s seat has ample room for operating the clutch and the shift leaver with a minimum of stress.
There is a touchscreen for infotainment functions and the instrument cluster under the steering wheel is nicely configured so it shows critical gauges such as the tachometer, speedometer, and fuel consumption at glance. The G86 is built close to the ground, which means in traffic, other vehicles seem to loom over it. But overall, the visibility from the driver’s seat is very good.
The G86 is powered by a 2.4-liter, multi-valve Boxer engine with double overhead cams, which is matched up with a 6-speed manual transmission. The combination produces 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2023 Toyota G86 Premium a combined fuel economy rating of 22 mpg, including 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Safety and Technology
For an old-school style sports car, the G86 has a very complete array of driver assistance features, including blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and seven airbags for protection in collisions or rollover-type accidents.
It is also equipped with back-up camera, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and collision braking. The G86 also comes with an 8-inch touch screen, USB ports, Bluetooth and a satellite radio connection as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
For years manufacturers have teased the sports car fans with sheep dressed as wolves. Rest assured the Toyota G86 is the genuine article with an exhaust note and more than enough power to prove it. I didn’t have a stopwatch or a test track, but from during my “testing” it seemed quite capable of going from zero to 60 in 6 seconds or less, which is quick.
The shifter was also easy to use, and the steering very precise, while offering plenty of feedback and the brakes were solid. The G86 is surprisingly heavy, weighing in at more than 3,700 pounds, which increases stability, while the beefed-up suspension delivers a solid ride.
2023 Toyota GR86 Premium Specifications
|Dimension||L: 167.9 inches/W: 69.9 inches/H: 51.6 inches/Wheelbase: 101.4 inches|
|Powertrain||2.4-liter, DOHC boxer 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed manual transmission|
|Fuel Economy||20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/22 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $28,860; As tested: $34,860 including $1,095 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
For anyone looking for a second, sporty car for fun, as a hobby or as fan, the G86 checks the boxes and is relatively affordable. It is an easy car to like and to enjoy. It also has just enough room and trunks space to use for commuting, but it is not versatile enough or spacious enough to use as a family car.
But it is a lot of fun to drive, except in stop-and-go traffic where operating the manual transmission can be a drag and become a chore over time, though I drove a “stick” for years and using the clutch and moving in and out of gear becomes second nature.
2023 Toyota GR86 Premium — Frequently Asked Questions
What is different about the GR86 2023?
Toyota hasn’t changed for 2023. Instead, it’s added a GR86 Special Edition. The Special Edition mixes GR86 Premium equipment with exclusive Solar Shift orange paint, a blatty cat-back performance exhaust with black chrome tips, and matte black 18-inch wheels.
What is the top speed of the GR86?
The official top speed is 135 mph, but during testing on the unrestricted areas of the Autobahn in Germany, it approached 140 mph. It’ll race from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.
Does the GR86 have a Subaru engine?
Since both the 2023 GR86 and 2023 BRZ have the same Subaru Boxer engine, they produce the same horsepower and torque.