android, toyota gr86 2023 review

The GR86 has a decent level of usability to the interior. (GTS pictured)

android, toyota gr86 2023 review

You can fit four wheels and tyres in the boot with the back seat folded down. (GTS pictured)

android, toyota gr86 2023 review

Boot space is 237 litres – which isn’t enormous. (GTS pictured)

What we like

Faster than before More focused than before Still a standout, even at this price

What we don’t

Severely behind on safety tech Prices are up a lot Could be too firm for some

What we like

Faster than before More focused than before Still a standout, even at this price

What we don’t

Severely behind on safety tech Prices are up a lot Could be too firm for some

The new, second generation take on the hachi-roku formula adds a serious amount of ‘GRRRR’ to the mix. This is it – the new-look, more powerful and much angrier Toyota GR86.

It takes the familiar front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car formula and mixes in a bit of madness – there’s a more focused chassis setup, redone steering, a firmer ride and of course, a bigger capacity engine. Still no turbo, though.

The question is – does it improve on the original? And can it live up to its new jaw-dropping price?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

I was there, that fateful day in June 2012 when Toyota Australia announced that the base model 86 manual was going to come in at less than $30,000. My jaw dropped, as did almost everyone else’s in that shed near the track where the launch was being held.

Fair to say my jaw also dropped when the price of the new 2023 Toyota GR86 was announced in the shed near the track (this time it was Phillip Island, not the Sutton Road driver training centre outside Queanbeyan).

That’s because the new model is between 15 and 35 per cent more expensive than the original 86.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
Toyota argues there’s a lot more value for buyers in this new model. (image: Matt Campbell)

The GR86 GT six-speed manual is now $43,240 (MSRP – before on-road costs). The price for the six-speed auto is identical, meaning – depending how you look at it – the manual is a rip-off, or the auto is compellingly priced.

The GR86 GTS model also employs the manual-or-auto-for-the-same-price strategy, listing at $45,390 (MSRP).

You get a few worthwhile items to justify the extra $2150 over the GT, and you can read all about the standard equipment inclusions here.

But it’s fair to say the GR86 might well be angrier in a lot of ways, but customers might be angry about the increase, too. Toyota even admitted that if it had kept the original price in line with inflation, it would have only cost $38,000 for the base GT grade. But it argues there’s a lot more value for buyers in this new model, by way of the drive experience and upsized engine, primarily.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
The new model is between 15 and 35 per cent more expensive than the original 86. (image: Matt Campbell)

However, there are some startling safety equipment exclusions that you might want to consider. More detail below.

OK, so what about rivals and pricing? Well, you can get the mechanically-identical Subaru BRZ for less. It starts at $40,290 for the manual (and has additional standard safety kit), but you have to pay extra for the auto, which starts from $44,090.

Or you might wish to think about a Mazda MX-5, which has the added cool factor of being a convertible, and starts at $37,990 for the base manual soft-top, or $42,300 for the hard-top.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The GR badges mean a lot, here. Not just because they signify that this is a proper Gazoo Racing product for Series 2, but also because they help you pick it as the Toyota and not the Subaru BRZ.

They are even more closely aligned in terms of exterior design this time around, and while both are good looking sports coupes, I wish more had been done to differentiate the two.

Sure, if you’re paying attention you’ll see the shape of the intake / grille area is different, and it has a different bumper shape to the BRZ, too – and both of them are bloody good looking cars, if you ask me.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
The GR badges mean a lot, here. (image: Matt Campbell)

The rear is particularly smart, I reckon – a more sporty and sleek appearance than the last one, and even if the tail-lights are somehow familiar, I think it’s a neat rear end. Can’t wait to see who makes the best looking aftermarket rear spoiler for it.

If you’re curious about the size and dimensions of the new GR86 compared to the old one, Toyota says it measures 4265mm (up 25mm) on a 2575mm wheelbase (up 5mm), sits 1310mm tall (down 10mm), and has the same overall width of 1775mm excluding mirrors.

There have been some big design changes in the cabin, though the overall layout is tremendously similar to the last car. It has similar controls for the air-con, a new touchscreen above, and similar layout to the storage, too.

The interior design is a bit plain, though – the screen is big and colourful, and I’m thankful for that. Because unless you option the GTS with the red carpet, it’s a bit bland in there.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
The rear is particularly smart – a more sporty and sleek appearance than the last one. (image: Matt Campbell)

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

You’re not buying a sports coupe if you value practicality as a primary purchase consideration, but rest assured, the GR86 has a decent level of usability to the interior.

There are bottle holders in the doors, storage sections in front of the gear selector, and a pair of cup holders with a closing lid that doubles as a centre armrest, if you don’t have drinks. Thing is, the one on the car I drove at launch was pretty hard to open with a single press of the button.

The 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen is straight from Subaru, with Subaru graphics and fonts still included. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the screen is colourful and has easy menus and controls, and thankfully there are still knobs and dials for things like volume and tuning.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review

The GR86 has a decent level of usability to the interior. (GTS pictured)

android, toyota gr86 2023 review

You can fit four wheels and tyres in the boot with the back seat folded down. (GTS pictured)

android, toyota gr86 2023 review

Boot space is 237 litres – which isn’t enormous. (GTS pictured)

It has the requisite Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring tech, but I had the system lose connection with my iPhone 13 Pro on the launch. (Note: I have a long-term Subaru WRX Sportswagon that drops the phone connection all the time, so it’s a bit annoying to see this characteristic mirrored on other models.)

Below the screen are the ‘they-look-familiar’ air-con controls, with dials for temp and fan. They’re nice and chunky so you can easily locate them when you’re focusing on driving. I like that.

The newly designed folding seat mechanism is supposed to allow you easier access to the back seats, not that you’ll want to be in there if you’re an adult. Or anyone over, say, 10 years old.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
The 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen is straight from Subaru, with Subaru graphics and fonts still included. (image: Matt Campbell)

I got in there (for scientific research purposes) and found it was, as you’d expect, not very comfortable for someone my size (182cm / 6’0”). My head was at an awkward angle, I had little leg or toe room even with the seat ahead of me pitched way forward, and there’s not much in terms of rear-seat amenities, either.

But, if you have younger children, there are ISOFIX points and top-tether points for both of the rear seat positions.

Boot space is 237 litres – which isn’t enormous. But the opening is wide enough to easily slide suitcases in, and you can fit four wheels and tyres in with the back seat folded down (according to Toyota – and it folds down in a single piece, there’s no split-fold rear seat).

Oh, and the last one used to be available with a spare – this one isn’t. Just a repair kit.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

It’s a bigger engine – now a 2.4-litre horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ four-cylinder petrol unit – and that increase of 20 per cent engine capacity has yielded some good horsepower increases, too. And it has a Subaru badge on the engine cover. Because it’s a Subaru engine.

The new model pushes out 174kW of power (at 7000rpm), which is up from a max output of 152kW on the old model.

It’s the torque figure that’s interesting, though. There’s 250Nm at 3700rpm, which isn’t huge. But Toyota claims there’s 240Nm available from 3500-6500rpm, meaning a long flat torque build-up. The old model had 212Nm for the manual.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
The engine is now a 2.4-litre horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ four-cylinder petrol unit.

Now, both the six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission have the same power and torque outputs – in the last gen, the auto was held back by 5kW and 7Nm compared with the max-power manual.

Of course, it’s rear-wheel drive, and has a Torsen limited slip differential in the mix.

Toyota says the 0-100km/h time for the manual is 6.3 seconds, which is 1.8sec faster than the last manual. The auto’s 0-100 is claimed at 6.8sec.

Wondering about weight? The new one has four different masses to consider: GT manual – 1287kg; GT automatic – 1308kg; GTS manual – 1291kg; GTS automatic – 1312kg. Toyota says the bulk of the additional circa-44kg increase across the board is down to the larger capacity engine.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Official combined cycle fuel consumption is also a matter of spec-by-spec: GT manual – 9.4L/100km; GT automatic – 8.7L/100km; GTS manual – 9.5L/100km; GTS automatic – 8.8L/100km.

On test, the GTS manual I drove on the road loop at the launch was showing 9.8L/100km on the display after a mix of mostly higher-speed country road testing around Phillip Island and surrounds.

The fuel tank capacity is 50 litres, but keep in mind you’ll need to be fueling up with 98RON premium unleaded.

What’s it like to drive?   9/10

Have you ever been cutting veggies for dinner and realised you need to sharpen your knife? And then, once you’ve done it, you realise what the knife is really capable of?

That’s kinda the feeling between the last generation of the Toyota 86 and this new Toyota GR86.

I loved the old 86. Still do. Would have one in a heartbeat. But this – as the analogy suggests – is a much sharper tool.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
The manual transmission is good, for the most part.

The engine is a big improvement on the old 2.0-litre – it feels considerably more urgent, and it gathers pace without fuss. You can really rely on the torque of the engine more in the new GR86 – that wasn’t so much the case in the last car, which you had to row through the gears more in. Now you can leave it in fourth and allow the engine to do the work, whereas in corners in the old car, you’d probably have elected to downshift to third, maybe second.

The manual transmission is good, for the most part. It’s easy enough to operate, though the shift action can still feel a little bit notchy (first to second, fifth to sixth in particular in the car I drove). The clutch feel was reasonable, but not stall-proof at low speeds.

The sound of the engine is a bit more pleasant now, too. It doesn’t have the nasal overtones of the last one – with a deeper, more enjoyable noise. It’s not the best sounding boxer engine, but it’s not the worst, either.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
It feels much more like a sports car than a sporty car. (GTS pictured)

I only had a short amount of time in the GR86 automatic, and it was on the Phillip Island race track. It has paddles, which I appreciate – but the gearbox will overrule you if you try and downshift and haven’t managed to get the engine revs down. Self preservation at the expense of outright fun? Yeah. A bit. A dual-clutch auto would be an interesting development in this car – but it’s not going to happen.

Drivers who live in areas where there are lots of potholes and bumpy sections of road – so, most of Australia, then – might feel the now-stiffer chassis is a bit too rigid at times.

It feels much more like a sports car than a sporty car, with Gazoo Racing having honed the suspension to the tastes of Toyota president and master driver, Akio Toyoda. I’ve been to Japan. I know the roads there are a heck of a lot more agreeable than here.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
A dual-clutch auto would be an interesting development in this car – but it’s not going to happen. (GT pictured)

Look, it mightn’t be a deal-breaker for the enthusiast, but the curious customer might find the ride a bit hard.

The trade-off, of course, is terrific handling. It tucks into corners nicely, and with the reworked suspension (Macpherson front, multi-link rear), there’s less of that playful “please keep pushing me so we can have some slidey oversteer” character to it. It will drift, no doubt. But in the last 86, it didn’t take much effort to make that happen.

The steering is excellent, with terrific accuracy and weight, and decent feel through the wheel, too. You don’t feel every single thing at the front axle, but you do have a better gauge of it than you might have in the last GT grade, which famously ran those Prius tyres that were part of the reason sliding it around was a lot easier, too. The rubber on the new GR86 is far better – the GT runs Michelin Primacy HP (215/45/17), and the GTS has Michelin Pilot Sport 4 (215/40/18).

Look, it’s still a lot of fun. But it’s fun in a different way. I actually prefer the last one in terms of the drive experience – even though this one is technically more impressive in all the important ways.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
The rubber on the new GR86 is far better. (GT pictured)

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

If you buy the manual version of the Toyota GR86, you’re getting a car that isn’t as safe as the auto. It’s that simple.

That’s because the manual models miss out on now-expected (and, frankly, embarrassingly absent) potentially life-saving safety features like forward autonomous emergency braking (AEB) or lane keeping assistance.

You get AEB in the auto, as well as a form of rear AEB (parking support brake) with rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control, as well as lane departure warning.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
There’s no ANCAP crash test safety rating for the new GR86. (image: Matt Campbell)

Another kicker? You have to choose the GTS if you want blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which is on both manual and automatic models.

The BRZ gets that rear-facing safety gear on all versions. Advantage Subaru, I guess.

There’s no ANCAP crash test safety rating for the new GR86.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty runs to the GR86, too. And if you maintain your car with the brand, that extends out to seven years for the powertrain.

The brand offers a capped-price servicing plan for five years/75,000km – meaning servicing intervals of 12 months/15,000km.

android, toyota gr86 2023 review
Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty runs to the GR86, too.

Is it fairly priced when it comes to maintenance costs? Well, at $280 per visit for the first five services, it represents an annual saving of about $215 over the equivalent Subie. So that’s a nice way to recoup a bit of the cost.

There’s no included roadside assist, which you do get if you buy a BRZ.

Verdict

If you’re expecting a faster, angrier and more focused version of the original 86, you’re going to be happy with this car. If you’re expecting it to be as fun and chuckable as the first one, you might be upset.

It has a different character, this GR86 – certainly with more GRRRR than ever before – and it still represents a strong sports car option for buyers, even if it is a fair bit more expensive this time around. It’d be hard not to recommend the GTS version to anyone considering it.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Keyword: Toyota GR86 2023 review

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