2017 Toyota 86 Review - Orange Exterior - Front Side View - Dynamic
Road Test Review

Back-To-Basics Sportscar | 2017 Toyota 86 Review

Does the reasonably-priced and sporty 86 have enough to lure customers to the showrooms almost 5 years after its launch? Read our 2017 Toyota 86 Review!

Occupying a lonely niche in the automotive segment is the Toyota 86, if you disregard the Mazda MX-5. It’s been around since 2012 and has garnered both praise and some disdain from the world over. Fast forward to today and way have the 2017 YM, available only as a VTX model. Here is our word on this oversized Hot Wheels example.


The 86 bears that quintessential coupe silhouette with that short nose, longish bonnet and a sloping fastback roofline that flows into a short rear deck. It’s the kind of car we used to dream of owning as kids! The slippery exterior design of the 86 delivers drag coefficient of drag of just 0.27 and was inspired by the Toyota 2000GT’s from which the 86 pilfers many styling cues from, such areas as the upward trailing edge of the doors; the upward finish to the side-window line; the front and rear haunches and the circular taillights set in silver. So it was sports car designed with classic proportions, based on a real classic! And thanks to a strategic partnership, it is Subaru that builds most of it, the engine, the body etc. Just check the insides for some embossed branding!

Although it has large appeal, in the pure aesthetics it not nearly as perfect as it should have been considering everything was brand new ground up.

First it’s the size we believe 86 should have been slightly larger to make it more usable. This one is just 4,240 mm, 1,775 mm wide and 1,285 mm and if you can imagine how small that is, trust us, its smaller in person. Something as large as the iconic Supra would have been perfect!

The headlamps have xenon HID units but the design of the cluster seems almost amateur-ish, same goes for the rear tail lamps that have been given a horizontal detail for 2017. The new wheels design are cute and merge reasonably well with the car, but in a time when manufacturers are going with big wheels, 17-inch diameters alloys don’t cut it, especially when the wheel wells are large enough to accommodate 18 or 19-inch varieties.

Our test car came with a conspicuous rear spoiler and large-chrome tipped dual exhaust pipes, which could have been better formed, but they are still better than the pencil-sized steel pipes.

Thanks to available smart key tech, you can enter the surprisingly spacious front cabin. It’s nice and snug and you sit lower to the ground, which is a revelation to first timers and you better be prepared for it. You’d find that the driving position near perfect with the leather-wrapped steering wheel wrapped apt in diameter coming right to your hands…and the pedals are right where you want them too. However, this maybe a 2+2 coupe, but the tiny little space they call rear cabin, is fit only for 10 year olds and maybe Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones. And climbing into it requires a contortionist’s act and getting out requires a rear dismount.2017 Toyota 86 Review - Orange Exterior - Rear Side View - Dynamic

The whole cabin although laid out in plastic, but has a very-machine and mechanical appeal, similar to the Nissan GT-R. A lot of the design takes cure from the 80s like the digital clock. The improved 7-inch infotainment screen is a boon to look and use, while the centre console is flanked by two silver pillars, as I call them. Overall and in all fairness, there is some to be desired both from the plastic division and the architecture, even at this price point.

Instrumentation wise, we get that the tachometer needs to be large to let you need to know where you are on the rev counter to make that perfect shift, but the speedometer needs to be equally magnified. And as for switchgear, everything is legible and reachable, plus the old-school hand brake is a blessing too for quick turns and drifting.


To keep it lithe, Toyota have bolted on a low-displacement, high-revving horizontally opposed boxer engine and this one gets both sequential port and direct injection…and they work depending on what part of the power band it is operating in. It does well in terms of specific power making 100 bhp per litre at 200 bhp max output which gives it racing car calibre. But then again the Honda S2000 from almost 2 decades ago made more power…some 240 horses towards the end of the life cycle, from the same displacement.

There isn’t a lot of power and it doesn’t accelerate any faster than your average 4-door family saloon! The claims are well in the sub-7 second region but our timer read closer to 9 seconds on many occasions, which is a tad disappointing. But if it was about sheer numbers we are missing the point. It is when you are on the road taking corners and evading traffic is when you know this formula works. It’s about the feeling of fast. It is about experiencing the act of working the engine to the redline and have the whole cabin filled with the reverberations as you gain speed. It’s also tuner-friendly, meaning that with an aftermarket turbo installed you can bump horsepower by a few dozen easily, improving traffic light acceleration and mid-range grunt as well.2017 Toyota 86 Review - Interior - Steering Wheel

But where it really excels is in the handling department. Thanks to its lightweight structure and chassis that seems to be an extension of your body, makes it a hoot take around corners. It doesn’t have the grip of the all-wheel drive Nissan GT-R, but the chassis has an innate playfulness that allows you to turn in at will and throw out the rear end a little without getting yourself into trouble.

And what adds to the experience is a 6-speed automatic which may seem run-of-the-mill unit, but is reasonably smooth when in auto mode and that’s necessary for when you’re doing running errands around town. But when you switch to manual mode it becomes this weapon, it swaps ratios so quick, it feels like an expensive dual-clutch gearbox. Top marks for that!

As for fuel economy, they claim 15.5km/l but never will you be able to achieve that with the constant need to depress the throttle searching for that redline in every single gear but that well that  50-litre tank is enough to keep you afloat or running in this case for as long as 450-plus kilometres or so.2017 Toyota 86 Review - Engine Bay


Ok first up is air conditioning! Here we have a dual zone air conditioning system and it’s a Toyota …so no qualms there! It’s an efficient piece of kit!

As for space, well there is a trunk! It is bigger than that rear cabin but that ain’t saying much; and if you drop the rear seats down it becomes more usable. If the boot cavity was a bit bigger it would have helped!

You can hook up your music choices through USB port, aux in or stream via Bluetooth but if comes off a so-so audio 6 speaker. Not the most aurally impressive, but it works fine!

With the 86 Toyota has made sure they have covered the basics like push start button, automatic headlamps, Hill Start Assist to help you out with that mall ramp situations, fog lamps – which you may only use in another 4 months and cruise control to keep it hassle-free letting you comply with road speed limits and be a good citizen, without constant modulation from your right foot.

As for safety, it gets the mandated ABS, Brake Assist, a tire pressure warning system and parking sensors. Again, a rear-view camera regardless of the car’s size of the car would be much appreciated.


The 2017 Toyota 86 is a back-to-basics sports car with that quintessential sporty silhouette, a high-revving motor and a playful chassis that makes it’s a success in most ways. The lack of power and cabin refinement makes similar-priced Ford focus ST and the Golf GTI seem like interesting propositions overall, but in the end, there is nothing that looks or drives quite like the 86. Toyota have done right by reviving their sporting gene in a model like the 86 and have to be congratulated for taking the path, where other manufacturers fear to tread!

And for the sake of movie analogies, here is one! It was the number 88 that let Marty travel through time and although the 86 may not possess any of those mystical powers, driving one its certainly is a good way to spend some time…in the future! Hit or miss? Lemme know!


The low-sitting engine sits lower to the ground than the Nissan GTR


Body type: 2+2-seater; 2-door, high-performance compact coupe
Engine: Front-engine; 2.0-litre inline 4-cylinder; rear-wheel drive
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Peak output: 200bhp @ 7,000rpm; 205Nm @ 6,400 – 6,600rpm
0 to 100km/h: sub-9.0 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: 235 km/h (drag limited; estimated)
Price: Retails at Dh109,900

Pros: Quintessential coupe looks; playful chassis; reasonably priced
Cons: Cheap plastics; engine lacks refinement and power; cramped rear seating

Author’s rating: 7/10

Read our 2017 Toyota 86 Review!

Back-To-Basics Sportscar | 2017 Toyota 86 Review
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