Magic Number 86
I’m standing at the braai (the only true South African Motoring forum) tanning lamb chops when one of my pals, a died in the wool Scooby fan pipes up: “My Impreza sounds just like your 86 when I start it up? What’s that all about?”. Well, he’s on the money as Toyota’’s 86 shares it’s powerplant with sister company Subaru’s BRZ. That familiar boxer 4 engine is unmistakable in it’s engine and exhaust note and is the heart of what is an absolute triumph in the affordable sports-car category.
An award winner around the globe, Toyota’s 86 delivers a true sports car feel that is otherwise only experienced in far more expensive motoring company. Having been around performance cars for almost all of my 16 year career in the motor-industry, I have never before encountered a combination of excitement and value similar to that served up by the Toyota 86.
Steering is precise, direct and quick with the sporty leather-clad steering wheel providing great feel. 6 forward gears delivering a precise, machined feel through the rifle-bolt gear-lever which falls perfectly to hand. Clutch is on the light side but isn’t at all vague and is a perfect match for the performance characteristics of this vehicle. Suspension set-up provides a truly entertaining experience. Ride is firm but not overly so; handling is typical of the rear-wheel drive set up but allows the driver to decide exactly how much excitement is enough for one day. Vehicle Stability control keeps everything “PG – Rated” but there is a centre console mounted switch to turn the driver aids off entirely if you do feel the need to push the envelope (hopefully only at a track day!!).
The Horizontally opposed 2.0l 4-cylinder develops 147kw at a heady 7000rpm with a fairly modest torque figure of 205nm. It seems harsh to criticise the slight lack of grunt at low revs but people used to the whoosh of turbo charged engines at low revs will definitely notice some shortfall on torque, but get passed 4000rpm and everything becomes clear. Hit 7500rpm; slot your next round into the chamber (you have 6) and feel tingles turn to electric shocks direct to the synapses.
Sales of Toyotas impressive 86 started at a furious pace with demand outstripping supply but there are vehicles readily available at dealers these days. Perhaps that’s because we have to compromise so much today and need to make allowances for family and convenience. The truth is, if you want a fast family hatch-back, buy a GTI. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to make a 2dr Coupe fit into your life and want the authentic sports car experience that a front-wheel drive hatch will never deliver, 86 may just be your lucky number………
McCarthy Toyota Ballito (Lifestyle Centre)
The McCarthy Toyota branch is based by the Ballito Lifestyle Centre with convenient access to the Ballito Circle and all Ballito businesses.
Tel: 032 946 7800, Douglas Crowe Dr, Dolphin Coast 4420
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