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2022 Toyota GR86 Overview: The Athletic Coupe Of Second Iteration

The Toyota GR86 for 2022, a sleek 2+2 sports coupe, makes a comeback for its second generation in collaboration with Subaru and its flat-4 rear-wheel-drive counterpart, the BRZ. This car effortlessly handles the track, but falls short on the streets in every aspect except performance. The same holds true for its rivals – the Subaru BRZ and the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

After the unveiling of the revamped 2022 Subaru BRZ last year, the Toyota GR86 returns with enhancements such as increased power, functional air intakes, reduced weight despite a lengthier wheelbase and body, and a firmer suspension setup. To pay tribute to its sporting heritage and signify its track-readiness, Toyota even adds a Gazoo Racing (GR) badge.

Identifying the distinctions from the previous-gen 86 may require a keen eye. The overall proportions remain unchanged for this low-slung two-door, boasting a broad, low nose with a mesh grille and vertical air intakes that streamline airflow around the front wheels. Equipped with aluminum fenders and roof panels, the 86 sheds weight to account for its bigger engine and added features. Its robust rear haunches give it a substantial look and some visual appeal. Despite being attractive, it tends towards a more conservative design.

The 86’s agile handling elevates it to a higher tier within the realm of sports cars. While not the fastest car we’ve driven, it certainly offers an engaging experience and excels on the track. This year, Toyota has upgraded the engine in the 86, transitioning from a 205-hp flat-4 to a 2.4-liter flat-4 generating 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the previous model that reached peak torque at 6,700 rpm, the current version hits it at 3,700 rpm. The rear-wheel-drive 86 accelerates to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds with the manual transmission, known for its precise gear shifts suitable for track driving, and in 6.6 seconds with the automatic transmission, more geared towards everyday use. At full throttle, the engine emits a harsh sound, though it muffles into a more subtle growl at cruising speeds.

The real standout is the handling, not the powertrain. Boasting vented disc brakes on all wheels, a strut and multi-link rear suspension, and a choice between 17-inch wheels for base models and 18-inch wheels for Premium models, the 86 displays authentic sports car behavior. Weighing in at just 2,811 lb, the base 86 slices through corners and speeds down straights with predictable control. Its nimble nature allows for controlled oversteer during tight cornering, without any hint of unruliness or unpredictability. The Premium models push the limits higher and the slides more dramatic, yet the 86’s responsive steering ensures an enjoyable, non-threatening driving experience. It truly stands out as one of the most intuitive sports cars on the market.

The 86 doesn’t completely sacrifice fuel efficiency, with an estimated EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 30 highway, and 24 combined for the automatic transmission, while the manual transmission achieves 19/26/21 mpg. These figures don’t account for track usage and in comparison, the Miata attains 30 mpg combined. Crash-test ratings are unavailable as the NHTSA and IIHS haven’t conducted tests yet. Moreover, only the automatic-equipped 86 includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.

The interior of the 86 features a minimally designed dashboard with a prominent central touchscreen and digital gauge cluster. Metallic-trimmed knobs control the climate settings, while toggles below manage drive modes and traction settings. Circular air vents and secondary controls on the steering wheel complete a cabin that prioritizes functionality and minimizes distractions.

Sliding into the 86 is akin to wearing a well-fitted driving shoe, leaving behind any unnecessary frills. Measuring just 167.9 inches in length with a 101.4-inch wheelbase, the 2022 86 is slightly longer and taller than before, but still essentially a two-seater with limited trunk space. Manual bucket seats, available in cloth or a blend of leather and alcantara, rest in a spacious cabin with ample head and legroom. Perfect for spirited drives, the tilt steering column lacks telescopic adjustment, which may require taller drivers to adapt, especially with a helmet on.

Although Toyota claims the 86 can accommodate four individuals, the rear seats are best suited for small occupants. With the rear seatbacks folded down, the 6.3-cubic-foot trunk proves handy for carrying an extra set of wheels and tires for track days. Equipped with a matte-finish touchscreen and durable hard plastic accents throughout, the interior of the 86 exudes a sense of quality rather than thriftiness.

The base 86 starts at $27,900 and includes a 7.0-inch digital gauge display, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker audio system, LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential. Opting for the automatic transmission Premium model at $29,825 adds two extra speakers, a rear spoiler, leather and Alcantara upholstery, and larger 18-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. Premium models with a manual transmission are priced at $30,900 before additional accessories.

With a host of appealing features and value-packed offerings, the 2022 86 caters to a niche group of buyers. While it boasts a large infotainment touchscreen and good value, the warranty is average, and manual models lack key safety features. Those considering the 86 should prioritize its exceptional handling; otherwise, an alternative like a crossover may be more suitable. All prices include a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty, 2 years/25,000 miles of scheduled servicing, as well as a day of track driving and a year of National Auto Sport Association membership.

The 2022 Toyota 86 stands out as a rare gem, made possible through the collaborative efforts between Toyota and Subaru. Incorporating Subaru elements has only enhanced the driving dynamics of the 86. Offering razor-sharp track performance, including enhanced power, predictable yet exhilarating handling, and driver-assist technologies that enhance the fun factor, the 86 represents a successful amalgamation of the best attributes from both brands, to the delight of all who experience it.

Image Source: Miro Vrlik Photography / Shutterstock

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