Toyota’s Sporty Saviour
From a car manufacturer’s perspective, attempting to save the planet is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives a company the air of tree-hugging, squirrel-loving eco-warriorness that leads to thousands of hybrid taxis on the road. But on the other, it renders all that icecap-melting motorsport history redundant. Toyota have decided to hit back with an affordable sports car that aims to evoke memories of pokey MR-2s, powerful Celicas and drop-dead gorgeous 2000GTs (if you haven’t seen one, check out the slideshow below)
The spanking new GT-86 features the same front-mounted 2-litre ‘boxer’ engine as the recently announced Subaru BRZ. It produces a reasonable 197bhp but this motor isn’t about all-out power, it’s about personality. An area where Subaru fell down.
We headed to the outskirts of Barcelona to thrash the little beauty on track and although it sometimes lacked a bit of grunt at low revs, it more than made up for it with its grin-inducing chassis and ability to conquer corners at face-melting speeds. Put this car in the hands of a proper wheelsmith and he (or she) can coax all sorts of smokey angles out of the back wheels.
But the icing on the cake is that these sub £25k sports cars are manufactured with tuning in mind. So a rummage around on eBay, indulge in a bit of garden shed mechanics and you will own a very fast, very bespoke motor for less than a second hand Lotus. Holes have been pre-drilled so the rear can host epic spoilers, wheel-arches can easily house monster 19 inch alloys and lowering the machine will take a morning of your time.
The more time you spend looking at the GT-86, the more you will fall for its simple lines and squat stance. The interior may not be finished to BMW standards and that engine begs for a turbo-charger but if you can overlook these facts you enter a world of truly entertaining weekend driving.