When the GT86 arrived, Toyota had yet another halo sports car to desire. It was immediately praised for its brilliant handling, showing that just 197 horsepower is enough to create a fun coupe. In the few years before the introduction of the GT86, Toyota’s focus was on its fuel-efficient hybrid technology and its SUVs, the brand’s famous sporty model lines such as Supra, MR2 and Celica fell by the wayside. Before the GT86, Toyota’s fastest accelerating car was the V8-powered Land Cruiser giant.
Not that the GT86 was chasing fast sprint numbers; Instead, the engineers focused on making it as easy as possible, prioritizing cornering dynamics over straight line speed. With thin tires and rear-wheel drive, driving was great fun, and the GT86’s center of gravity was lower than that of the Porsche Cayman.
While many cars are compromised by drivers for reliability or affordability, the Toyota is not. This is truly a model that will fit a large number of people unless ultimate practicality is key. The potential downside is finding the right GT86 for you as this is not a top selling car in the UK. Owners also tend to hold onto them so that there aren’t large quantities for sale at the same time. But as long as you’re ready to travel or, if necessary, wait for the right example, you should be able to find the GT86 of your dreams.
Car group tests
The rear-wheel drive GT86 is the spiritual successor to the earlier rear-wheel drive Celicas, along with the Corolla GT that was loved by hot hatch enthusiasts in the 1980s. When Toyota teamed up with Subaru to develop a driver’s car par excellence, the goal was achieved; The GT86 has proven that you don’t need a lot of power to really enjoy every ride.
- Toyota GT86 (2012-2020) – sporty Japanese coupe perfectly combines performance with functionality.
The first GT86 hit British roads in July 2012. There was only one trim level and all cars had a 197 hp 2.0 liter four-cylinder petrol engine with manual or automatic transmission, both with six gear ratios. A refresh in October 2014 brought a new entry-level Primo edition, a limited Giallo with yellow metallic paint and the GT86 Aero, which added a body kit. Tire pressure monitoring has also become standard.
A Euro 6 compliant engine was launched in July 2015, while the GT86 Aero received 18-inch alloys. There was also a new Blanco special edition with mother-of-pearl white paintwork and heated leather seats. The car received a major overhaul in October 2017 with a stiffer body, retuned suspension, updated instruments, streamlined styling, and improved aerodynamics. There was also a GT86 Pro-Range topper with leather and Alcantara covers.
Which one should I buy?
Part of the pleasure of driving a GT86 comes from the deliciously precise gear changes. So while the Autobox works well enough, and cars equipped with it have quite a following, most people are better off buying the manual. Other than that, the point is to find the best GT86 you can afford.
The standard car was equipped with two-zone automatic air conditioning, sports seats, bi-xenon headlights, electrically adjustable, electrically adjustable exterior mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels. A sat nav was an option, along with heated leather and alcantara front seats, although some special editions got these as standard. Another option worth looking for is the JBL nine-speaker sound system.
Alternatives to the Toyota GT86
The obvious alternative to the GT86 is a Subaru BRZ as it is essentially the same car with different badges. The Subaru is rare, however; the agreement between the two companies meant the lion’s share of cars sported Toyota badges.
The TT from Audi is an extremely popular sports car with all-wheel drive on some models. It’s good to drive, if not as addicting as the Toyota, but you can buy one in coupe or roadster form, with either gasoline or diesel engines and manual or automatic transmissions.
The Volkswagen Scirocco also offers hatchback usage and a decent selection of engines or transmissions, but that’s not as fun as the Toyota, either. The Nissan 370Z is another competitor with its muscular V6 engine and rear-wheel drive, but it’s thirsty.
Shifting into second gear of the manual gearbox can be particularly cumbersome, especially until the oil is warm.
Several owners have had problems with dead batteries due to incorrectly wired seat heaters so ask sellers about this.
Squeaky stoppers seem to be a fact for many GT86 owners, with effective fixes that prove elusive; Watch out for loud brakes during a test drive.
The seat cushions are not as durable as you might hope; They can wear off in less than 20,000 miles, so check for damage here.
For a brilliant driver’s car, the GT86 comes in pretty handy because while the rear seats are only suitable for kids, they fold down to expand the 237-liter trunk. The cabin design looks outdated in some places and some materials do not look or feel high quality, but the seats are grippy and supportive, the available equipment is correct and all controls are user-friendly enough.
Take a look at the offers for used Toyota GT86 at BuyaCar.
All GT86s require servicing every 12 months or 10,000 miles. The schedule simply switches between minor and major at a cost of £ 250 and £ 395 respectively. Big service includes changing the brake fluid, because it’s due every two years or 20,000 miles, while the coolant should be changed after the first 100,000 miles or 10 years, then every 60,000 miles or six years.
The costs for this are included in the main service, and since the motor is chain-driven, there is no need to replace a toothed belt, which lowers running costs. Once a GT86 reaches its fifth birthday, it is eligible for membership in the Toyota 5+ Club, which cuts 20 percent off any service or inspection by an official dealer.
The Toyota is ahead of the Subaru when it comes to warranty. Subaru BRZs get three years and 60,000 miles of coverage, while the Toyotas left the factory with a five-year warranty. In 2021, Toyota announced its Relax Guarantee, which offers 10 years or 100,000 miles of security, whichever comes first. The coverage is also impressive for used cars; Even if your car is more than five years old, it can come with a one-year warranty if you have it serviced at a Toyota workshop.
Toyota has issued two GT86 recalls. In October 2016, 4,556 cars built between April 2012 and March 2015 were recalled because the steering assistance could fail. The solution is a new wiring harness. An April 2019 recall related to 3,505 GT86 manufactured from April 2012 to May 2013, with possible faulty valve springs resulting in possible engine damage. Stronger springs are the solution.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The GT86 didn’t appear in our Driver Power polls, but Toyota regularly makes it into the top 10 of our brand poll. Even more impressive are the owner reviews in the reviews on our sister website carbuyer.co.uk; practically all ascriptions give the Toyota a full five-star rating. Owners love the handling, rarity, reliability, practicality and value – and like next to nothing.