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Toyota GR86 2024 review


It might have started life as a boy-racer, but today’s fifty-grand GR86 combines superbly crisp dynamics with more grown-up styling

Good points

  • Superb chassis
  • Clear steering feel
  • Ample performance
  • Attractive inside and out
  • Still decently good value
  • Makes you a better driver

Needs work

  • Jiggling ride quality
  • Really marginal grip
  • Costlier than ever
  • CarPlay needs a cable
  • Little else

Sometimes, we sound a bit like the boy who cried wolf. When motoring journalists extol: “buy this fantastic car now! It won’t last forever,” it’s sometimes a little exaggerated. In the case of the Toyota GR86, it may be premature. Eventually, it will come true.

Like closing pincers, twin pressures from tightening emissions standards (abroad, and now, at home) – along with restrained demand for two-door sports cars, carmakers aren’t seeing the point in continuing to develop fun machines with petrol fillers and manual transmissions.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 rear 3/4

If you’re reading this review, it’s because you are part of a group of people that rails against the fattening of motoring, the slide to SUVs, to multiple-tonne EVs, to the need for binging-bonging safety features. Can’t people just drive attentively?

Unfortunately, the clear balance of the public, and the regulators, have all decided differently. And that state of affairs makes the 2024 Toyota GR86 a distinctly endangered species.

This might not be the non-hybrid, non-automatic GR86’s last year on sale. 2025 might not be its last year on sale. But eventually, that year will come. If you’re on the fence, we do think it’s better to jump in some time soon.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 driving

If you’ve come far – if you’re reading this review – we think now’s as good a time as any. The Toyota GR86 is an excellent car with superb dynamics and few niggles that will matter to enthusiasts. Frankly, we could call it a day and end the review there.

But we’re in the business of helping people make fully-informed decisions, so we’ll plow on. We also think the GR86, while being fully deserving of its high-distinction score, does have room for improvement.

We tested the GR86 in GTS manual format ($49,474 driveaway in NSW) in optional white liquid premium paint ($500) with no-cost red ultrasuede seats and carpets. On-the-road, our tester was just over $50,000.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 badge
Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 wheel

The GR86 remains a little difficult to come by. Our tester was about a year old already and there is still a 12 month wait time for new orders for a GR86 with manual transmission.

An upgrade in the form of the GTS dynamic performance pack will become available later in 2024 for about $2500. This adds stronger Brembo brakes front and rear and ZF Sachs sports shock absorbers. As with the previous generation, the performance pack is likely to be worth opting for.

Even the base GT manual now costs $47,261 driveaway, seemingly a far cry from the sub-$30,000 entry of the Toyota 86 GT manual in 2012. Or is it? Inflation means that thirty grand 12 years ago is now forty grand – in today’s money.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 front 3/4 2

The new-gen GR86, which arrived in 2021, might share its basic shell with the old 86, but the revamp fixed up so many of the previous car’s faulty elements that the extra $7000-$10,000 outlay is basically justified.

Chief among them was the old car’s rather idiosyncratic 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated boxer four-cylinder engine sourced from Subaru. Its main feature was a scary dip in mid-range torque which squarely affected driveability.

The aftermarket went nuts on fixing this deficiency, with supercharger kits, turbocharger kits and all manner of warranty-breaching upgrades available.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 engine

But the GR86 has solved it a different way: a shift to a bigger-block 2.4-litre engine that is more powerful, more torquey and, helpfully, much more linear.

This change preserves the intent of the older 86 model but makes it a bit easier to drive. The Toyota GR86 isn’t meant to be fast – it’s meant to be feelsome, and that means not blitzing every straight and overshooting every corner.

Even so, the change has lopped the 0-100km/h time to an adequate 6.63sec (tested by Chasing Cars) while the standard brakes on the GTS hauled up from 100-0km/h in 36.00 metres flat, which is fine but not particularly impressive.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 driving side

Straight-line stuff isn’t the point. It’s nice that Subaru fixed up the engine, but the GR86 and cousin BRZ continue to be all about momentum, corner entry, balance, and corner exit. In this environment, both coupes thrive – but the Toyota is a little more fun.

There are small differences in hardware between the pair and Toyota once again opted for a revised rear end that is slightly softer and more compliant. The stability control parameters are also a little more permissive.

All of which means that you can definitely get the rear end moving on the GR86 – and not just in a lairy, smokey way. Instead, the Toyota GR86 is one of the most delicately throttle-adjustable vehicles on the market.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 driving front 4

On the way into a corner, crisp single-mode steering with clear feedback helps you plot the right line through the corner, and that feel and feedback is kept up while the car balances in the corner.

On the way out, bleeding into the throttle gets the loaded-up outside rear wheel involved in the proceedings and you can tighten up your line very neatly with just a touch of power oversteer.

That’s especially possible in the GR86’s brilliantly-tuned track mode, which loosens the reins a little on the VSC stability system. In this mode, the Toyota teaches you to be a better driver. The fact the car isn’t overly fast in a straight line means you can concentrate on getting the corners right.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 shifter
Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 interior pedals

We’d recommend the six-speed manual transmission for its considerably higher driver involvement, even if the clutch takeup remains a little finicky. Don’t want a manual? That’s fine – the same-cost six-speed automatic is decent enough.

Getting to the right roads for this kind of learning can require a commute for some, and the GR86’s passive suspension is just compliant enough for boring stretches of road – but only just. The ride quality is still very jiggly and passengers who aren’t into cars will grow tired of it.

The smoothness of the damping is likely to be superior with the dynamic performance pack, which offers a superior rebound curve from its specific ZF Sachs shocks – but we won’t know until we test it.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 interior 2

Even in stock GTS format, it’s all worth it when you get to twisting, sinewy blacktop where the Toyota’s gorgeously precise control surfaces and expertly-tuned chassis come right to the fore.

You could daily this car. Many do. The GR86 lacks the comfort of a front-drive Volkswagen Golf GTI or Hyundai i30 N on their standard adaptive dampers, but the rear-wheel drive Toyota is considerably more involving in the twisties.

It’s worth keeping in mind that your $50,000 spend is buying the mechanicals rather than a posh interior. Toyota really stepped up the perceived quality in the shift to the GR86, however, and the cabin is a pleasant enough place to spend time.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 interior back seat
Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 interior boot

The tech works well (albeit with old-fashioned wired smartphone mirroring). We longed for adjustable seat lumbar for those longer drives. Forget the tiny back seats – it’s a gym bag holder. The 237-litre boot is small but usable enough for a weekend away.

Warranty is five years with unlimited kilometres while five years of servicing, at Toyota dealers, costs $300 per year for the first five years/75,000km. After that point, annual maintenance jumps to $644, $1035, $1172, $492 and $517 in the uncapped sixth to tenth years.

Toyota GR86 GTS 2024 front 3/4

By that time, some owners will undoubtedly switch to independent mechanics. Perhaps a Subaru one, given it’s that brand that supplies the boxer engine.

It’s something to think about, as the march to bigger, heavier, less characterful cars continues mostly unabated. Long-term ownership of a GR86 could be a great way out.

Overall rating
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