Toyota’s long-awaited replacement for the 86 has been revealed, gaining a new engine, new looks and many updated features. The rear-wheel drive sports coupe also gets a new name, with ‘GR 86’ replacing ‘86,’ reflecting its development under Toyota’s Gazoo Racing banner that’s already produced the GR Supra and GR Yaris road cars
According to Toyota, “substantial gains to performance, agility and stability have advanced the unique driving characteristics of the compact four-seater's classic front-engine, rear-drive layout”.
The second-generation 86 comes almost a decade after the original reached Australian shores, and in that time, 20,800 have been sold locally, accounting for almost 10 per cent of total sales to date.
"The new GR 86 has been specially designed for sports performance with precise and playful handling, delivering pure driving pleasure and a strong emotional connection between driver and car," said Toyota Australia Vice President Sales and Marketing Sean Hanley.
"It is a stylish, compact four-seater that draws on Toyota's impressive sports-car heritage including the legendary 2000GT, Celica GT-Four, MR2 and original Supra, as well as its more recent GR siblings."
New Look, New Power
The upcoming GR 86 differs notably from the original 86 in the styling department, with the sharper, aggressive styling of the current version replaced by a more rounded and bulbous look that actually has some similarities to the overall shape of Nissan’s 350Z/370Z.
Noteworthy styling features include a deeper and more prominent grille that’s said to be a GR-exclusive item, new-look headlights, accentuated front air intakes, vents behind the front wheelarches, smooth tops to the front guards and new-look side mirrors.
Some of these new design elements also offer specific aerodynamic advantages, according to Toyota, which have been developed through the factory’s Gazoo Racing motorsport programmes.
Dimensionally, the GR 86 is broadly similar to the 86, which explains the familiar side light treatment, but wheelbase, length and width have all increased marginally.
At the rear, the tail light design has been toned down and now linked by a reflector strip, the number plate recess has been lowered and the rear diffuser reshaped to accentuate the twin tips of the redesigned mufflers.
Of more appeal to 86 enthusiasts than the styling is the new engine.
Toyota have replaced the 2.0-litre flat four naturally-aspirated engine with a 2.4-litre unit developed by Subaru that “delivers superior driving performance and engine responsiveness”.
Maximum power increases from 152kW to 173kW, which is achieved at the same 7000rpm peak. Maximum torque increases from 212Nm to 250Nm, but arriving at a much lower 3700rpm than the current model. It should be noted that this performance data is based on Japanese market specs, which may not transfer directly to Australian-delivered models.
A choice of 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic transmissions, as per the exiting 86, has been confirmed, but at time of writing, no details had been provided on any revised gear ratios or diff ratios to suit the new engine.
Again, based on Japanese market data, 0-100km/h acceleration is said to be 6.3 seconds – a 1.1-second improvement on the current 86.
Lower, but Heavier
With the larger engine comes other changes that give the GR 86 a lower centre of gravity compared to the first-generation model. The result is enhanced turning performance and handling agility, according to Toyota.
Torsional rigidity is said to be increased by approximately 50 per cent to further improve steering performance and agility.
Independent suspension front and rear is made up of MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear.
Wheel and tyre packages have not been revealed, but overseas data points to the existing 16- and 17-inch wheels being replaced by 18-inch alloys, with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres as standard.
The 2.4 engine adds weight, which Toyota have tried to offset by introducing aluminium to the roof panels and front guards, but regardless, the GR86 is believed to be around 1270kg, making it 27kg heavier than an MY20 86 GT manual, but only 5kg up on an equivalent automatic.
Reflecting the tweaking of the exterior, the interior of the GR 86 has been subject to change, too.
Again, full details have yet to be provided, but comparing new and old images, there’s an 8.0-inch centre console touchscreen (significantly larger than the 86), more prominent air con controls, simplified switchgear and repositioned start/stop button.
The fully digital TFT instrument display is a first and, in one piece of information actually provided by Toyota, is described as having a start-up animation “inspired by the piston movements of the horizontally opposed engine”.
The shifter surround is new, although the shifter itself is virtually unchanged. Steering wheel and pedals are mostly carryover, too, adding GR identification and some detail differences.
Flattened central air vents and redesigned eyeball vents are other areas of change, while the switches and controls are said to have been optimally arranged “to create a space that enables the driver to concentrate on driving”.
More to Come
What’s been released on the new GR 86 so far is really just a taster, with more detailed information, including engine specs, safety tech, model grades and pricing, to be announced closer to Australian release.
Exactly when that local release will be is still unknown, but late 2021 is expected, possibly following the local launch of the new BRZ.