The Toyota 86 proves you don't need endless power in a fun sports car

It's everything a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe should be
by Jason Dela Cruz | May 23, 2018

'It has resurrected the rear-wheel-drive sports coupe in modern form, while keeping the basic formula and the old-school charm intact.'

I’m driving around our cover shoot location with our videographer. He asks me to say a line or two on why I love the Toyota 86. This should be easy because I know exactly how I feel about this car--I’ve been wanting one ever since I first saw and drove it six years ago.

Every time I’m behind the wheel of an 86, I catch myself going on and on about my reasons for liking it. It just has that effect on me. By now, I’m aware that I probably sound like a broken record. But the heart knows what it wants, right? And there are only so many ways of describing something you love.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

How can you not love the thinking behind such a car? It’s a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe that puts emphasis on fun rather than outright horsepower. My go-to description: It isn’t crazy-fast, and it was never meant to be. Rather, it’s quick. All you need is 200 horses--that way, you can easily reach the car’s limit as well as yours. The result? A totally entertaining driving experience. This car is proof that you don’t need a huge amount of engine power to have fun behind the wheel.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

The 86 delivers what I yearn for--something that’s been missing in the market since the late ’80s. It has resurrected the rear-wheel-drive sports coupe in modern form, while keeping the basic formula and the old-school charm intact.

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Attainability is a big consideration among car buyers in choosing a new ride, too, and the 86 is reasonably priced enough to offer you your first crack at sports car ownership. It exists for the pure joy of driving, and it’s going to be sought after classic in the years to come.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

The 86 does what it does so well, it ran away with our Car of the Year honors in 2012, solidifying its status as one of Top Gear’s all-time favorites.           

On the run up to our 150th Issue, I talked to Paulo about how we should celebrate the milestone by doing something different to remind ourselves why we love this job. The idea was to round up a few cars (plus a big bike for motorcycle guru Aris Ilagan) and do a multi-vehicle cover feature on the rides we desire, the ‘Cars We Love.’

The 86 is an obvious choice for the lineup. It may be the slowest in this bunch, but its ample power and loose (yet controllable) rear end will have you grinning from ear to ear. And you know what they say about driving a slow car fast versus a fast car slow: It feels more instinctive and doesn’t attract unwanted attention.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

As we drive around, Paulo leads our convoy in the MX-5 RF and Ian Magbanua tails him in the Golf GTI. The three of us enjoy the most of our rides when a clear stretch of road opens up in traffic. Behind me, Dinzo Tabamo in the GT-R can only feather the throttle, and Botchi in the LC500 complains about tricycles and slower-moving vehicles. Considering the size and power of his Lexus, it’s easy to see why he finds our slow progress annoying. At least it’s more of a cruiser compared than the GT-R, so ride comfort isn’t an issue.

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PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

So, here we are--150 issues. The first one I was part of was Issue 70 in August 2011, as a contributing writer. In hindsight, I never thought then that I would make it this far. I’ve spent seven years writing for this publication so far, and in those seven years, I’ve been fortunate to have some of the best experiences--getting to drive great cars, traveling to beautiful locations, and meeting automotive personalities. These were things I could only dream of as a child.

My love of cars and my passion for writing about them have served me well. And being part of what is perhaps the most reputable automotive magazine in the country makes my efforts more worthwhile. Not only am I in an industry that allows me to actively take part in what I love, I’m also able to give insights to our readers.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

The past year and a half has been a pivotal period for the magazine. There’s been a lot of movement within the team, requiring all of us to step up. Personally, it’s a challenge I relish--I’m up to the task, simply because I love what I do and I continue to do what I love.

I don’t want to think far ahead--I want to take it one month at a time. After all, getting there is half the fun, especially when there are a lot of other cars to try out and fall in love with!

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PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

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