The Toyota GT86 was so close to sports car perfection, but could never quite grasp it with both hands. Compact, nimble, relatively light, and designed to be fun rather than to impress people with numbers in a brochure, it also had a frustrating power band and its basic interior design could turn off those used to more… well, German sports cars.
In theory the new Toyota GR86 (note the “R”, as GR stands for Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s performance brand) fixes all that. With a larger 2.4-litre flat-four engine in place of the old 86’s 2-litre, and a heavily revised cabin, it might just be the perfect modern sports car.
To test the GR86’s chops, Jason Cammisa has laid on a bit of a challenge in Hagerty’s latest Icons video, including a drag race with a Mazda MX-5 (never a fast car itself, but still quicker than the old GT86), a test of fun and practicality against the consummate all-rounder, Volkswagen’s Mk8 Golf GTI, and even a quick comparison with the Porsche 944.
Why the 944? Because it was playing the GR86’s card back in the 1980s, with a mix of performance, GT-style comfort, usable luggage space and agile handling. So close are the two in concept, that Cammisa calls the GR86 the 944’s spiritual successor.
You can watch the whole bunch tested on road and track in the video, and explore why cars like the GR86 – ones which power the rear wheels, and still offer a manual gearshift – are so important.
Oh, and if, like us, you got to the end of the video and found yourself wanting a Porsche 944, you can get a handle on values here in the Hagerty Price Guide. The Toyota GR86 meanwhile will likely come in around the £30,000 mark when it arrives in the UK in late 2021 or early 2022.