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We take a look at the Toyota GR86 and discover why this sports car is the real deal with its high-performance capability and incredible affordability.
Exciting things are going on at Toyota. Just take one look at their 2022-23 lineup, and you'll notice something very different. A company renowned for its reliability, has now redefined their brand.
It all began in 2017 when Toyota's President Akio Toyoda declared “No more boring cars”. Since that declaration, Toyota's designers received more creative power to produce sleek and sporty looking vehicles. Thanks to Akio Toyoda, the brand that was once designing cars for practical buyers is now in the midst of an automotive renaissance. Toyota is making sports cars again, and the Toyota GR86 is the entry-level option for a whole new generation of buyers.
Back in the nineties, Toyota had an all-star sports car lineup. The Celica was a great two-door entry-level option with a long history of reliability. The mid-engine MR2 Spyder was in its second generation, which was arguably the best years for the model. Lastly, the crown jewel of Toyota's lineup — the Supra — famous for its turbo power and tunability. Toyota was making a real name for itself in the United States, and buyers ranged in all ages.
Fast-forward over fifteen years later, and Toyota has established a different kind of reputation. Before Akio Toyoda made his famous decree in 2017, Toyota was more focused on producing reliable and dependable SUVs and cars. The company's image was light years away from the time it's Toyota 2000GT graced the silver screen in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
Toyota did have the Scion brand, but they never produced a real sports car. Instead, its sole purpose was to make affordable yet fun cars for a younger demographic of consumers. Akio Toyoda, a race car driver himself, changed all that. Since he became president, his goal was to transform the brand his grandfather started into a company that was not only known for its durability, but for its sportiness as well.
With the cancelation of its sub-brand Scion, Toyota rebranded the FR-S as the Toyota 86. A few years later, it resurrected its most distinguished model ever – the Supra. Thanks to Akio Toyoda, his brand is now turning heads and critics are no longer calling Toyota “boring.”
While most brands offer sports cars closer to the six digit mark, the Toyota GR86 starts below $30,000. In its base form with the manual transmission, the GR86 is the best bargain driver's car you can buy.
Starting at $27,900 its only real competition besides its doppelgänger the Subaru BRZ is the Mazda Miata. With functional back seats and a standard transmission, the GR86 is certainly a practical choice for a young enthusiast looking for a reliable sports car.
The rear-wheel-drive GR86 comes equipped with a standard Torsen limited slip differential, MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link suspension set up in the rear. The Gazoo Racing circuit-tuned electronic steering, coil springs and shocks allow the GR86 to handle like a dream. The four-cylinder engine sits low in its lightweight chassis, creating a lower center of gravity, which improves stability and handling. The available sport bucket seats with suede inserts keep the driver bolstered in position.
The naturally aspirated 2.4-liter boxer engine now produces plenty of torque and linear power. Whip one legal U-turn in the GR86, and you'll quickly realize why it's the best bang for your buck sports car on the market.
There is an adage that says if you perform well at the racetrack on Sunday, your dealerships will sell on Monday. A motto, made famous by brands like Mercedes and Ferrari, was now adopted by the largest automaker in the world. Akio Toyoda was a racecar driver who went by the alias “Morizo.” As an enthusiast himself, Akio single-handedly changed the image of his company.
Gazoo Racing (GR) was Akio's brainchild, and he believed that motorsport was the key to making better streetcars. As President, Akio Toyoda aka Morizo was winning races at the Nurburgring. The person running the most famous car company in the world was also beating professional racecar drivers in his spare time. Toyoda wants his customers to experience the same thrill of racing. So much so that his company is providing a free “High-Performance Driving Experience” to all new Toyota GR86 owners.
With racing heritage at its core, the GR brand now has credibility on the streets. In the last year, Toyota has not only announced a manual transmission for the Supra, but it's also bringing the GR Corolla to the United States. The brand, once known for getting your grandparents safely to bingo, is now listening to enthusiasts and the tuner community.
The Toyota GR86 provides enthusiasts with a sneak-peek into the world-class experience of a Gazoo Racing sports car. Motorsport brands like Mercedes-AMG and BMW's M division price their vehicles close to six-digit figures. At under $30,000, the GR86 is perfectly situated for that new car buyer fresh out of college looking for a thrill only matched in a high-end sports car.
You won't find a better handling coupe in the same price point as the GR86. Enthusiasts know that horsepower and zero to sixty times doesn't always contribute to real fun on the road. What car enthusiasts really want is a six speed manual in a car that can eat corners on a windy road. The Toyota GR86 checks every box with a special stamp of approval from its motorsport champion president – Morizo aka Akio Toyoda.
Victor Troia is a Features Writer with nine years of experience in the automotive industry. An enthusiast and car collector with a B.A in History and M.S in Education. Victor enjoys writing about the history and impact automobiles have on car culture
The 2022 Toyota GR86: The Most Fun You Can Have For Under $30,000 – HotCars
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