The Toyota 86 has been in the market for almost five years now. I love everything it about—the balance, the agility, the fun factor, plus its subtle and classic sports car look.
I love this car so much that I wanted the look to be retained as much as possible. But a midlife refresh was bound to happen.
The updated model was revealed at the New York International Auto Show last year. First impression? Somewhat boy racer-ish and trendy. I can’t help think that the previous model will age better. Granted, I was merely viewing the new 86 on the Internet. I didn’t want to judge until I laid my eyes on the actual unit.
And you know what? The new look grows on you very quickly. The front end is the most obvious change. The air dam is much larger, pushing the revised foglamp bezels outward, making the car look wider. The chin, meanwhile, is more aggressive. It appears to be slightly longer, most obvious when looking at it from the side. The headlights are now LED and bear the 86 logo. With a much more extensive change to the front end compared to the updated Subaru BRZ, it seems Toyota wants to somehow differentiate the 86 from its Subie twin.
The side gills are new as well. The 86 logo has been relocated to the middle section of the fender. It's also been simplified by the deletion of the opposing cylinders on the old badge. The alloy wheels are simpler, moving from the previous double-star design. The taillights are likewise LED and have tiny aero fins like other Toyotas. While I initially had some skepticism with the front end, I immediately liked the minor change to the rear. At least now you won’t hear complaints about the taillights.
The previous 86’s old-school vibe has been exchanged for a more modern feel, something that was to be expected. The steering wheel now sports multi-function buttons, synced with a Kenwood touchscreen head unit that can mirror your phone. My wife and I had a hard time pairing our phones for Spotify, though. The wheel is once again black with contrast stitching, and feels smoother and more premium.
While there is a 5hp and a 9Nm increase for some markets, we don’t get the mechanical tweaks. It’s something I don’t mind not getting. As I mentioned before: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This new model, however, feels slightly smoother going through the revs.
The automatic variant has sport and snow modes. Sport mode offers a little more excitement and is best suited for spirited driving on twists and curves. The lower gears are worked more and the revs are just slightly more aggressive. Snow mode, meanwhile, would offer less slippage on slippery surfaces such as...well, snow. Obviously not needed here. Previous drives returned 9-10km/L in the city and 15-16km/L on the highway. My test yielded similar numbers.
Ride and handling
When we featured the manual variant in the October 2016 issue of our magazine, it was vague whether there were any suspension tweaks or not at the time. It felt almost (if not) the same around Clark International Speedway. It’s something I didn’t give much thought to as I already like how the car handles.
Having spent about a week with the automatic around town, however, it felt more composed on our poorly paved roads. The dampers seem to do a better job of absorbing rough and uneven surfaces.
A 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display replaces the analog fuel and temperature gauges. A G-force meter is the coolest bit here, which I first saw on the Lexus NX200T. All the new features—steering wheel buttons, a Kenwood touchscreen head unit, and the new TFT display—give the 86 a more expensive price tag: P1.849 million for the automatic, up from P1.736 million.
The 86 continues to score highly in my book because it retains all the goodness from the previous model. Despite the price jump of over P100,000, it’s still a lot of car for the money and continues to offer a first crack into brand-new sports car ownership.
While I would opt for the manual, the automatic is a good compromise, especially if this will be your daily driver.
SPECS: Toyota 86 AT
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC H4
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power: 197hp @ 7,000rpm
Torque: 205Nm @ 6,400-6,600rpm
Price: P1,864,000 (White Pearl)