This week I bring you one of the very few entry-level sport coupe's on the market: the 2023 Toyota GR86. It's a two-door coupe I absolutely loved (and found jaw-droppingly affordable) when I reviewed the all-new 2022 model. Fast-forward to 2023 and the GR86 is as fun to drive as ever, thanks to its low center of gravity, standard 6-speed manual gearbox and GR (Toyota Gazoo Racing) badging.
2023 Toyota GR86
Wow does the GR86 pop in a glorious Neptune blue hue. It looks great contrasted against the matte-black-painted 18-inch wheels and other exterior black elements like the functional front bumper air inlets and fender vents.
The 86's racing proportions mean a long hood and short rear deck. In back, a standard chrome-tipped dual exhaust is replaced by an optional black GR Performance dual exhaust ($1,700). The tail end also sports LED combo taillights and a color-keyed duckbill spoiler.
Other exterior features included heated side mirrors, all-LED lighting and an adaptive lighting system, all outstanding features on sports car that's this affordable.
The track-ready GR86 is equipped with a 2.4-liter flat-four Boxer engine shared with its cousin, the Subaru BRZ. (If you weren't aware, the 86 and BRZ were co-developed together.) The four-cylinder engine delivers 228-horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. My vehicle is equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox with a short-throw shifter but an automatic with paddle shifters is available.
Key to performance is the engine's low placement in the chassis, which in turn results in a low center of gravity. Add to that, the rear-wheel drive 86 also has an almost 50/50 weight distribution (53% front:47% rear balance.) The 86 hugs the road, delivering compelling, confident performance and exceptional handling thanks not only to its suspension and sport-tuned shock absorbers, but also the Premium's Michelin® Pilot® Sport 4 tires. Braking is excellent.
New GR86 owners receive a complimentary 1-year National Auto Sport Association (NASA) membership including one free High Performance Driving Experience.
The GR 86 Premium interior is driver centric and sporty. Nice Ultrasuede, heated, front seats with leather-trimmed bolsters keep you comfortably in place. A leather-trimmed sport steering wheel wears GR badging and aluminum sport pedals greet your feet.
On the 7-inch TFT digital cluster with an LCD display you can toggle between various modes, including manual-only Track mode which displays things like oil and water coolant temperatures and a lap timer.
On the center stack you'll find a 8-inch touchscreen that houses a multimedia system that's compatible with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Premium is equipped with an 8-speaker audio system. Below the touchscreen you'll find large dials for the dual-zone climate along with silver-finished toggles.
On the console you find an optional GR gear shift knob along with a leather-trimmed hand parking brake. You'll get two USB ports and two cupholders up front. As you'd imagine, don't expect a large console bin or much storage in here.
Technically the 86 is 2+2 and seats four, but the second row is pretty limited space-wise. However you can fold the rear seats down for more cargo space.
When it comes to safety, the GR86 manual misses out on most of the advanced driver safety features. The GR86 Active Safety Suite is for the automatic transmission-equipped model. My Premium 6-speed manual model is only equipped with Blind Spot Detection/Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a backup camera.
What You'll Pay
Options on my review vehicle include a cargo mat, auto dimming mirror, GR Fender Inserts, GR Air Filter, GR Performance black dual exhaust, GR shift knob, rear bumper applique, and carpet floor mats/cargo mat. Total MSRP as equipped is roughly $34,000 - a fantastic value in my book for a fantastic entry-level that doesn't feel like entry-level sports car.
Get behind the wheel of the Toyota GR86 and you'll immediately become smitten. This is a fun to drive, great-looking, affordable sports car with a driver enthusiast following for good reason.
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