Rejoice, enthusiasts! This is the second-generation Toyota GR86 and not only is it available at a reasonable MSRP of $27,900, but it comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Of course, a six-speed automatic transmission is available with paddle shifters (flappy paddles) for semi-automatic shifting in manual mode. Now we know Toyota is saving the manual transmission and the sports car, with the help of Subaru, but after selling more than 120,000 units of the first-generation car in the U.S. you might be asking yourself how they could possibly follow up on the success of the first car. Toyota kept everything that makes the GR86 great and fixed one of the biggest complaints about the old car, the torque dip around 3,000 – 4,500 rpm.
The GR86 I was loaned is a 2022 Toyota GR86 Premium, that’s priced at $33,250, per the dealer sheet. This includes $425 in optional equipment, the $1,025.00 delivery, processing, and handling fee. Our GR86 is finished in Track bRED over a black Ultrasuede interior, which gets more attention from passersby than one might think. As standard with all GR86/BRZ’s, it’s powered by a 2.4-liter FA24D four-cylinder boxer engine with Toyota D-4S fuel injection, mated to a six-speed automated sequential transmission with flappy paddles. Additionally, the GR86 Premium is equipped with more safety equipment when the automatic transmission is chosen such as adaptive cruise control, auto braking features, additional blind spot detection, and more.
In my time with the car, the number of compliments and induced neck pain is staggering, though a good percentage of that could be attributed to our special color option Track bRED. The GR86 has a slightly different appearance which features a sharper nose/front bumper that appears more aggressive than its Subaru counterpart. Due to our car being a Premium model, we also have the larger 18-inch matte black alloy wheels and the color-keyed duckbill rear spoiler which all contribute to the look of the car. The car does a good job of keeping the relative shape of the first GR86 with new modern styling, but one interesting aspect of the design is the taillights. They remind me of the Honda Civic and the Acura (Honda) NSX but are identical to the 2022 Subaru WRX. I figure it’s Subaru’s new styling and brand image carrying over to the GR86. It is safe to say this car checks all the boxes for exterior looks. I catch myself looking back at the GR86 as I walk away so it is likely you will too, but looks are subjective.
When hopping into the GR86 one of the first things you’ll notice is how comfortable the seats are, followed by the excitement of pushing the GR start button as you begin your sporty adventure. The car starts and now you have an array of technology, various driving modes with just the touch of a button, and through the windshield, you can see the top fenders for each wheel, making it easy to place the wheels right where you want them. Should you decide to turn up the radio dial, you are surrounded with sound and bass at the stock stereo settings that I found to be perfect for my taste, though it can be adjusted to your liking within the eight-inch touch screen display. The black Ultrasuede is a nice touch to add some texture to the interior. Toyota wisely did not make the steering wheel Ultrasuede, which I am sure is slippery like Alcantara and would end up dirty and matted with use, unless cleaned regularly. The Ultrasuede that sits on top of the door panel is a welcomed addition as it is a perfect place for a soft elbow rest. For longer trips, the GR86 is equipped with a whopping five cup holders, one in the middle on the premium, one in each door panel, and then two hidden in the center console storage. While the GR86 is a two-door sports car, it offers some additional usability in the form of a backseat. The backseat is not suitable for any adults with its minimal legroom, but it may work in a pinch and offers better options for kids, or folding the back seat down entirely for additional storage and access to the trunk.
The engine was a big point of contention for the new GR86, as fans of the previous cars were begging for a turbocharged engine in the second-generation car. Turbocharged options were explored with the FA24F that you would find in the 2022 Subaru WRX, but the conclusion was that the turbocharged powerplant would increase the price and the overall center of gravity with the bottom-mounted turbocharger, so a naturally aspirated engine was chosen instead, which sits around ankle height. Along with the new naturally aspirated engine comes an additional 23bhp for a total of 228bhp and 184 lb-ft of torque across the board. This introduces a 7,400 rpm redline with great sound. While that may not sound like much to some, the effect of the horsepower increase is more significant when you realize the curb weight of the GR86 is just 2,811lbs. Per Toyota, our six-speed automatic car should do 0-60 mph in just 6.6 seconds and the car will lead you to believe it can be done faster than that and the GR86 has a maximum speed of 134 mph.
The all-important question, how does it drive? The 2022 Toyota GR86 is amazing, to say the least. The car provides fun at any speed and the stiff Toyota GR-tuned suspension instills confidence in the corners, keeping the car level with little to no body roll. The steering feels quick and direct while not being too heavy, so you are not exhausted after a drive. For casual driving, I found myself keeping the car in drive as I was happy with how smooth the transmission shifted even when you wanted some get up and go. There is lots of fun to be had in manual with the flappy paddles tapping through the gears when pulling onto the freeway or driving through curvy roads. While in manual, the GR86 will automatically upshift or downshift if the rpm’s get too high or too low to prevent any damage to the powertrain. Should you feel the desire to go for a “spirited” drive, the sport mode will amplify the dynamic in-cabin sounds along with holding the rpm revs to help hold the car in the power band. Then there is track mode, after holding the track mode button for one second, traction control is turned off and your seven-inch digital gauge display changes to an rpm focused display and you can alter your LCD multi-information display (MID) to whatever information you prefer to have up at the track. With traction control turned off, the car has no problem sliding the rear end out, but grips up fast thanks to the sticky Michelins Pilot Sport 4’s. You can sustain longer slides with added throttle should you choose to drift the car. Ultimately, the car is enjoyable in both regular driving and spirited driving.
The 2022 Toyota GR86 is a fantastic sports car. It is not the fastest vehicle you can buy right now, but that’s not the point. It offers bang-for-buck performance in an everyday driver package that makes it possible to have an enthusiast vehicle as your only vehicle. If you are considering the GR86, then head to your local Toyota dealership and test drive one today, you won’t be disappointed.