Toyota’s new GT86 revives their sports car heritage

Toyota is back in the sports car business. Its eagerly awaited, compact 2+2 sports car, the GT86, is going on sale later this month, writes Padraic Deane.

The car has been described as an entirely driver-orientated vehicle, and is designed for those who consider driving a passion rather than a necessity. The GT86, which is described as the world’s most compact four-seater sports car, will be available here at €39,895 for both the manual and automatic versions.

Toyota has a 50-year history of creating exciting, rear-wheel drive sports cars that have proved as popular with the public as they have been successful in competition. The new GT86 captures and builds upon the best elements of three key models from that rich sporting heritage: the Toyota Sports 800, the Toyota 2000GT, and the AE86. And Toyota say that the one overriding development goal of the GT86 was fun.

The GT86’s aesthetic design was aimed at sport car fanatics - its bold front wings are readily visible through the windscreen, and the rear wings through the door mirrors. These prominent forms at all four corners of the low-lying, highly aerodynamic body add a new dimension to the feeling of being at one with the car. The GT86 was designed with a ‘viewed from the inside out’ approach which proved integral to the design process from the early stages of its creation.

The GT86 model has a rear-wheel drive format, no turbocharging and ordinary tyres, making it an affordable, and accessible car for driving enthusiasts. The model is the world’s only combination of compact front-mounted, naturally aspirated, free-revving, horizontally opposed boxer petrol engine and rear-wheel drive, which gives maximum driving pleasure for those who get behind the wheel.

They shunned a heavy, large displacement powertrain, and for its performance, the GT86 returns to Toyota’s sporting roots. This unique powertrain format combines with light weight, low inertia, and a low centre of gravity to realise the best possible power-to-weight ratio. Toyota tells us that these attributes give the GT86 lively, accessible performance, highly engaging, readily exploitable dynamic abilities with minimal electronic intrusion, and maximum driving pleasure.

Throughout thousands of man-hours spent overcoming hundreds of development challenges, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada and his Subaru counterpart, Toshio Masuda, fought tooth and nail for three key elements in the new sports car: a rear-wheel drive format, no turbocharging, and ordinary tyres.

David Shannon, managing director, Toyota Ireland said, “The GT86 was designed to be very much a driver’s car and we’re confident that even the most demanding car enthusiast will be impressed by the driving experience it offers. Toyota has an undeniably strong heritage in the creation of world class sports cars and the GT86 truly represents an exciting new chapter in this legacy.”

The GT86 engineering design also incorporates elements that allow easy adjustment or customisation to suit user preferences, making it as simple as possible by, for instance, minimising electronic control devices, allowing customers to personalise the GT86 with relative ease.

Toyota say that it was conceived to focus specifically on the purity of the classic sports car experience, honed through competition, and fine-tuned to satisfy the most discerning enthusiast.

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