RAY MASSEY: Toyota’s modern marvel is GR86 sports coupe


There haven’t been many occasions when I’ve had more fun behind the wheel of a car. Sitting in Toyota’s GR86 sports coupe really is back to basics motoring, but with a modern twist. 

This is a well-tuned and balanced car that embraces the latest road-handling and safety technology without it being overbearing. 

It is seen as the spiritual successor to the classic Toyota 2000GT, a one-off topless version of which appeared in the 1967 Bond movie You Only Live Twice. It even has a slick six-speed manual gearbox, remember those days when you actually had to shift a gear-lever? 

Sensational: The stylish Toyota GR86 is designed to be driven hard

With a dual exhaust and a great sound, the GR86 is powered by a 231bhp 2,387cc four-cylinder ‘boxer’ petrol engine that propels it from rest to 62 mph in 6.3 seconds up to a top speed — where legal such as on a track or a de-restricted German Autobahn — of 140mph. 

I was sitting in the sparse cockpit with minimal controls staring down the low bonnet to the road. 

The weather did me no favours, mind. The heavens opened up to a downpour.

Yet the GR86’s sure-footedness persevered in the wet as I left the three-lane A3 out of London to the elevated Hog’s Back near Farnham, and then onto the tightly turning country roads of rural Surrey. With aerodynamic front air intakes, air outlets and horizontal side spoilers, this is a gorgeously styled, energetic car built to be driven hard. And it rewards you when you do. 

The suspension is quite firm, especially on Britain’s potholed roads. But the overall package is sensational — and with a starting price a fraction under £30,000 (£29,995) it’s a bargain. 

As a two-plus-two, it’s tight in the two rear bucket seats, but it has a good boot which can expand. Fuel consumption is a relatively frugal 32.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 200 g/km. An alternative six-speed automatic GR86 costs from £32,085. 

But here’s the bad news. The entire UK allocation of more than 400 GR86s sold out in just 90 minutes when they went on sale, pre-launch, in April. 

So as first customer deliveries begin now, if you’re still keen you’ll have to source a second hand or ‘grey-market’ example.

This is a well-tuned and balanced car that embraces the latest road-handling and safety technology without it being overbearing

This is a well-tuned and balanced car that embraces the latest road-handling and safety technology without it being overbearing

The interior is a little plastic – no doubt for weigh-saving – but features include a multimedia system with an eight-inch display

The interior is a little plastic – no doubt for weigh-saving – but features include a multimedia system with an eight-inch display

Riding on 10-spoke 18-inch black alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, safety features include a blind spot monitor and reversing camera with rear cross traffic alert

Riding on 10-spoke 18-inch black alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, safety features include a blind spot monitor and reversing camera with rear cross traffic alert

With a dual exhaust and a great sound, the GR86 is powered by a 231bhp 2,387cc four-cylinder 'boxer' petrol engine that propels it from rest to 62 mph in 6.3 seconds

With a dual exhaust and a great sound, the GR86 is powered by a 231bhp 2,387cc four-cylinder ‘boxer’ petrol engine that propels it from rest to 62 mph in 6.3 seconds

The automatic GR86 has new active safety and driver assistance, including a pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam and lane-keeping assist

The automatic GR86 has new active safety and driver assistance, including a pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam and lane-keeping assist

Riding on 10-spoke 18-inch black alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, safety features include a blind spot monitor and reversing camera with rear cross traffic alert – which worked as I reserved out of the driveway.

The interior is a little plastic – no doubt for weigh-saving – but features include a multimedia system with an eight-inch display, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a seven-inch colour multi-information display, Ultrasuede and leather seat upholstery, heated front seats, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, smart entry and push-button start and auto-folding door mirrors and LED adaptive headlights.

The automatic GR86 has new active safety and driver assistance, including a pre-collision system with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam and lane-keeping assist.

GR86? What’s in a name?

The GR in the name relates to Toyota’s sporting arm Gazoo Racing.

The previous incarnation to the GR86 was the GT86.

And both are seen as spiritual successors to two of the most important sports cars in Toyota’s history – the 2000GT and the Corolla GT Coupé of the 1980s which was codenamed AE86.

It also comes from the earlier GT86s development code ‘086A’.

In another twist, the ’86’ is also a nod to the 86mm x 86mm square bore and stroke, of the GT86’s boxer engine and to the 86mm diameter of the model’s chrome-tipped twin exhausts.

Will it fit in my garage? Toyota GR86 

Price: £29,995

(Pearlescent paint option: £965)

Doors: 2

Seats: 2 plus 2

Length: 4,265mm

Width: 1,775mm

Height: 1,310mm

Wheelbase: 2,575mm

Kerb weight: 1,276 – 1,316kg

Engine: 2,387cc petrol

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Power: 231bhp

0-62mph: 6.3 seconds

Top speed: 140mph

Fuel consumption: 32.1mpg

CO2 emissions: 200g/km

Boot capacity: 1,276 – 1,316 litres

Fuel tank: 50 litres

First year VED: £1,420

Safety

ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.

Stability control and traction control

Hill start assist

Rear cross traffic alert with brake assist

Blind-spot monitor

Cruise control

Features

10-spoke black 18-inch alloy wheels

8-inch multi-media display

7-inch multi-media display

Six-speaker audio with DAB

Dusk-sensing LED headlights

Ultrasuede and leather seat upholstery

Dual exhaust with chrome finish

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run set for the off

The world’s longest running motoring celebration, which began life as a cheeky protest against early anti-car legislation, gets under way early tomorrow. 

Beginning at sunrise in London’s Hyde Park and finishing 60 miles later on Brighton’s seafront, more than 350 remarkable veteran cars, their drivers and passengers — many in period costume — will take part in the annual RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. 

In the fast lane: The Run celebrates the day 126 years ago when the Locomotives on the Highway Act was passed

In the fast lane: The Run celebrates the day 126 years ago when the Locomotives on the Highway Act was passed

The Run celebrates the day 126 years ago when the Locomotives on the Highway Act was passed, raising the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4mph to 14mph and abolishing the need for the vehicles to be preceded by a man carrying a hated red flag. 

Held on November 14, 1896, on the very day the Act came into force, the first ‘Emancipation Run’ saw 30 cars travel from London to Brighton. 

A 1892 Peugeot is the oldest car in this year’s Run and all eligible cars must have been built before 1905. 

Yasmin Le Bon and Christian Horner ripping the ceremonial Red Flag before the start

Yasmin Le Bon and Christian Horner ripping the ceremonial Red Flag before the start

Beginning at sunrise in London's Hyde Park and finishing 60 miles later on Brighton's seafront, more than 350 remarkable veteran cars, their drivers and passengers will take part

Beginning at sunrise in London’s Hyde Park and finishing 60 miles later on Brighton’s seafront, more than 350 remarkable veteran cars, their drivers and passengers will take part

The Run celebrates the day 126 years ago when the Locomotives on the Highway Act was passed

The Run celebrates the day 126 years ago when the Locomotives on the Highway Act was passed

Held on November 14, 1896, on the very day the Act came into force, the first 'Emancipation Run' saw 30 cars travel from London to Brighton

Held on November 14, 1896, on the very day the Act came into force, the first ‘Emancipation Run’ saw 30 cars travel from London to Brighton

Vehicles taking part include three- and four-wheelers, steam-powered crafts, and even several very early electric vehicles – all built before 1905. These include familiar names such as Ford, Renault, Peugeot and Mercedes, but also many long-forgotten ones such as Mors, De Dion Bouton, Covert, Alldays and Gladiator.

Celebrities taking part include land speed record holder Andy Green, TV personality and gardener Alan Titchmarsh, and classic car guru Paul Cowland. Entrants are travelling from as far away as America, Hong Kong and Australia

Ben Cussons, chairman of the Royal Automobile Club said it was a privilege to participate but warned other motorists: ‘If you do encounter these veterans on the road, please treat them with respect and remember that they do not have the same dynamic abilities as a modern car.’

See veterancarrun.com. 

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