The Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ have been around for 10 years, and Toyota is celebrating in style.
The GR86 10th Anniversary Edition is an orange tribute to the rear-wheel drive coupe that started life as the GT86, morphed into the 86, and finally became the GR86 when the second-generation model you see here rolled around.
Beyond the orange paint and stitching, very little has changed in the transition from GR86 to 10th Anniversary Edition.
It’s still a compact, relatively affordable sports car with power from a naturally-aspirated petrol engine sent to the rear wheels, and a six-speed manual (or automatic if you feel like making a mistake) in the middle.
That’s a good thing… for the most part.
Just 86 examples of the 10th Anniversary are bound for Australia, and a chunk of them are already sold. Toyota offered a presale to existing Gazoo Racing owners, who snapped them up
Owners paid a $1300 premium over the range-topping GR86 GTS, although the Toyota special edition was $190 cheaper than the more common BRZ 10th Anniversary Edition automatic.
The manual BRZ 10th Anniversary Edition, however, undercut the GR86 equivalent by $3590.
2023 Toyota GR86 pricing:
- Toyota GR86 GT: $43,240
- Toyota GR86 GTS: $45,390
- Toyota GR86 10th Anniversary Edition: $46,700
Prices exclude on-road costs
You’ll be able to distinguish the 10th Anniversary from regular GR86 models by its orange accents. The seat inserts, door trims, and stitching highlights are all finished in a variation of the exterior colour.
The highlights help what’s a pretty simple cabin stand out, and they aren’t too in-your-face. Coloured inserts would be a nice addition to the regular range.
The seats are trimmed in a combination of suede and leather, and offer the right blend of bolstering and long-haul comfort for a car that’ll be driven daily… and in anger. They’re set slightly lower in the cabin than before to free up a bit more space.
Combined with a redesigned dashboard, slimmer door pockets, and smarter door grabs, the lower seats genuinely do open up slightly more space for leggy drivers.
The small steering wheel has been lifted directly from the facelifted previous-generation car, and feels just right in a car like this. There’s no flat-bottom or paddles to distract, although the little button pods on the two spokes are easy to accidentally hit if you have big hands.
It’s still a tight fit up front, but you can live with this comfortably in a way you can’t a Mazda MX-5. Not only does it have more space, it has two cupholders under the folding central armrest, usable door pockets, and a glovebox.
The digital instrument binnacle is simple but effective, and has been laid out to loosely look like a boxer engine. You get speed and revs prominently in the centre, flanked by fuel and temperature gauges on the right, and a customisable pod on the right-hand side.
Like the BRZ, the 86 runs a version of Subaru’s infotainment software on an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard. It’s been pared back relative to the version used in the Subaru Outback, but operates quickly and logically.
With no satellite navigation, you’ll need to plug in for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if you want mapping.
The inclusion of a clear reversing camera is a win, while the USB ports are now hidden away beneath the armrest so cables don’t get tangled up in the gearstick when you’re in a hurry.
There’s no doubt the cabin has been built to a price. There are plenty of cheap or hard plastics, and it looks a bit old-hat compared to a Hyundai i20 N or Ford Fiesta ST, but all the main touch points are high-quality.
Subaru and Toyota have clearly focused on getting the fundamentals right for drivers.
The steering wheel, gear knob, and handbrake lever are trimmed in leather, and the armrests are soft and squishy. The simple climate control binnacle looks and feels more upmarket than the setup in the first-generation car as well.
As for the rear seats? Having them is good, using them is painful unless the people trying to sit back there are tiny.
But take it from an ex-BRZ owner, they really are usable in a pinch – and with them folded, you’ll be surprised about what fits back there.
Power in the Toyota GR86 comes from a 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine, driving the rear wheels.
Peak power is 174kW and peak torque is 250Nm, up 22kW and 38Nm on the old car.
Buyers are able to choose between a six-speed manual or six-speed torque converter automatic. The 100km/h sprint takes a claimed 6.3 seconds in the manual, and 6.8 seconds in the automatic.
Claimed fuel economy is 9.5 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, and you’ll need to fill the 50L fuel tank with 98 RON premium unleaded fuel.
There’s nothing mechanically different between the 10th Anniversary and the 86 GTS, but there wasn’t much wrong with the GTS anyway.
Slot the stubby shifter into first and the light, short action will instantly feel familiar to previous owners, as will the slightly springy clutch. The second you ease off the clutch, however, it’s clear the bigger new engine has torque in all the places the first-generation car was missing it.
It pulls more happily from the bottom of second or third gear around town, and when the road opens up that horrid torque valley in the mid-range of the last car has been flattened out. It’s not going to crush your chest and make you beg for mercy with its sheer pace, but getting the best out of it doesn’t feel like a chore anymore.
The 2.4-litre engine has the same slightly offbeat bark as before, piped into the cabin for a bit more drama behind the wheel, but it’s not coarse or buzzy like before at the top end.
There’s no doubt the manual transmission is the pick of the GR86 range. The pedals are well spaced for rev-matching – a necessity given there’s no active rev-match technology to help you out – and having to row your own is perfectly in keeping with the car’s pitch as an analogue beast in an increasingly digital world.
Subaru and Toyota say the synchros on the manual have been tweaked to make the second-to-third shift quicker and smoother, and the shift from neutral to first a bit less crunchy, but the transmission feels fundamentally the same as before.
Ride quality is excellent on 18-inch alloy wheels, making the 86 easily drivable as a daily. Although the blind spots are noticeable, it’s small enough and vision is good enough to ensure it’s easy to place in town.
Anyone hopping out of a modern hot hatch will notice the lack of active safety technology. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert are all standard on the manual, but you’ll have to opt for an automatic to get autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise, and lane departure warning.
Subaru has confirmed an update is coming to the closely related BRZ to bring a safety suite to manual models, but it’s not yet been confirmed for the 86.
Toyota and Subaru didn’t need to fiddle with the car’s steering, which was just right from the start. Thankfully, they haven’t.
There’s no artificial heaviness or faux-sporty quickness built in, but the still goes exactly where you want it to, and there’s enough feedback through the wheel and seats to feel what the car is doing beneath you.
It’s beautifully balanced, and the new engine makes it easier to exploit that when you aren’t driving at ten-tenths, bouncing off the limiter.
Unlike the entry-level 86 GT, the GTS and 10th Anniversary Edition features Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
Although they don’t break traction quite as easily as the Primacy rubber fitted to the entry car, they make it a much easier beast to drive smoothly and quickly in the wet.
Even with the stickier tyres, it’s possible to get the GR86 to transition from grip to slip without trying too hard.
GR86 GT highlights:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights
- Black fabric front seats
- Leather steering wheel and shift knob
- Dual-zone climate control
- 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster
- 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- DAB+ digital radio
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- 6-speaker sound system
- Keyless entry and start
- Autonomous emergency braking (auto only)
- Lane departure warning (auto only)
- 7 airbags
- Tyre-pressure monitoring
- Cruise control
GR86 GTS adds:
- Matte black 18-inch alloy wheels
- Adaptive headlights (turn with steering wheel)
- Ultrasuede interior trim
- Heated front seats
- Aluminium pedals and scuff plates
- Lights for sun visors
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Blind-spot monitor
GR86 10th Anniversary adds:
- Solar Orange exterior finish
- Orange contrast stitching inside
- 10th Anniversary stitching on doors
- Black interior highlights instead of silver
The Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ haven’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
The GR86 manual currently misses out on active safety equipment such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning, although it’s likely to gain the technology as part of a rolling update given the same tech is headed for the Subaru BRZ.
GR86 auto variants add:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane departure warning
- High-beam assist
GR86 GTS adds:
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Lane-change assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
Like the wider Toyota range, the GR86 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Maintenance is required every 15,000km or 12 months, and Toyota caps the price of the first five services.
They’ll each set you back $280 regardless of which transmission you opt for, significantly undercutting the BRZ.
Why bother driving a limited-edition version of the 86 that’s already sold out?
Because even if you can’t get your hands on this GR86, anyone looking for an affordable sports car should still give the GR86 GTS or BRZ S a long, hard look.
It’s more powerful, more composed, and more usable day-to-day, but hasn’t lost the spirit of the original – even a decade later.
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