Toyota GT86 review - the best budget sports car on sale?

Hunter Skipworth
20 Jul 2016

Inexpensive rear wheel drive thrills

Evo Rating: 
Great chassis and handling, driving position and value for money
Cheap interior, engine needs more poke, tyres could have more grip

evo Verdict

Ask yourself this: What do I really need from a car in order to be able to enjoy it on the road? If the answer is leather seats and a good sound system, then the GT86 isn’t for you.

If however all that matters to you is three pedals, great steering and a sweetly-balanced chassis, the GT86 is the answer. The steering accuracy and control weights are ideally judged, while the boxer engine's 197bhp output and skinny tyres mean the GT86 always feels playful. Crucially, in the world of 300-horsepower hatchbacks, it’s also a car you can enjoy on public roads without fear of losing your licence.

Rarely does something in the motoring world feel ‘just right’ and while the GT86 isn’t without its issues, it comes very close. The 0-60 sprint doesn’t feel that quick, but to compensate you spend a lot of time in the GT86 with your foot flat to the floor, a rarity in modern performance cars. It's satisfying to feel like you're using the car's full potential.

And as the GT86's price drops ever further - entry-level models now begin at £22,495 before dealer incentives - the inexpensive driving thrills of the GT86 look ever more appealing.

evo Tip

There's little point going for one of the range topping GT86 models as mechanically, they're identical to those costing thousands less. We'd be tempted to spend the balance on aftermarket tuning modifications to rectify a few of the car's less appealing aspects.

The GT86 can be transformed with the likes of a supercharger, and while the standard Michelin Primacy tyres are aimed at lowering the car's limits, they do limit its fun factor too. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available to boost grip and feel.

evo Comment

'Try a lift on turn-in and the chassis shows more of its playfulness, the rear arcing wider than before. Stay on the power and it'll oversteer nicely, progressively, with none of the snap-back exhibited by the Subaru BRZ. It still hasn't got the power to maintain lurid second-gear slides but it'll slip through third-gear turns with composure and slow-mo predictability.' Jethro Bovingdon, Contributing Editor (evo 171)

Performance and 0-60 time > Low torque figure limits low-revs performance, but performance is respectable if you're prepared to work for it. Read more about the Toyota GT86 performance here

Engine and gearbox > Two-litre flat-four needs working hard but doesn't sound good doing so. Slick six-speed manual is a joy. Read more about the Toyota GT86 engine here

Ride and handling > A mixed-bag. The standard Michelin Premacy tyres don't do the chassis justice - but it's entertaining and interactive. Read more about the Toyota GT86 ride and handling here

MPG and running costs > Mid 30s MPG is reasonable for a car of this type. A five-year warranty and Toyota reliability should keep running costs low. Read more about the Toyota GT86 MPG and running costs here

Prices, specs and rivals > £22,500 entry price lower than at launch, and looks reasonable value. Subaru BRZ and Mazda MX-5 are two new rivals worth a look. Read more about Toyota GT86 rivals here

Interior and tech > Little joy to be found in the design or materials, but the driving position is perfect. Rear seats aren't suitable for most humans. Read more about Toyota GT86 interior and tech here

Design > Compact sports car proportions give off the right impression and it looks more exotic than the price would have you believe. Details are less successful. Read more about Toyota GT86 design here

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