The Toyota 86 is one of my favorite cars. For many reasons, it’s perfect for me, a near-mid-thirties bachelor: an impractical almost-sports-car that, with its rear-wheel drive, two (usable) seats and relatively affordable price tag, checks a lot of “fun” boxes. I reviewed the 86 GT early last year and loved it (that car had all sorts of TRD goodies installed). The car is nimble enough that it can be a riot if you keep the revs high and don’t mind that it doesn’t quite perform like an exotic.
That’s one of the ways in which the car is also somewhat infuriating: at only 200 to 205 horsepower, it’s notoriously underpowered, and to get any true sporting enjoyment out of it, you’ll need to add on Toyota’s TRD upgrades, like sport exhausts, lowering springs, etc. It’s priced similarly to the base Mustang too, and while it’s in quite a different class, if you want muscle and fun, you’ll probably opt for the Ford. The real competitor is Mazda’s Miata – similar setup, same price, and it’s a convertible.
But, I think the 86 is absolutely worthy. Like I say, it’s fun. And since it’s a Toyota, it’s inherently reliable. (Holds its value too – believe me, I’ve checked.) If you know how to outfit the car — with all the TRD options you can muster — you’ll probably love it. And now that Toyota has introduced the ‘Black’ edition of the car, there’s a little more to love.
The Toyota 86 starts at $26,455 for a bare-bones model. Upgrade a bit and you’ll have an 86 GT for $28,585. That upgrade solves some key problems with the base model by wrapping convenience and comfort options into one package: you’ll get leather-trimmed and heated sport front seats, a 4.2-inch TFT display, a smart key system with push-button start and dual-zone climate control. (All models offer a manual or automatic for the same price, by the way. The manual is essential, and you’re a fool if you don’t get it.) The GT Black costs exactly the same as the GT, but adds visual flair: black side mirrors and black rear wing supports. Confusingly, ‘Black’ refers only to those specific parts, not the paint color. There are only four available — red, grey, white and black — for this trim level, however.
Right. It’s… not a lot at all. But I think it’s almost enough, in a weird, specific way. I was parked in Manhattan when a kid ran up to the car and told me he loves his 86 so much that he always says hi to other drivers. He was visibly jealous when I told him the model he beheld included a special factory looks option. And that’s where the GT Black is special: it takes an admittedly cult-classic car and ups the nerd cred a bit within its own circles. A no-cost ego boost? Count me in.
Note: Before it was the Toyota 86, it was the Scion FR-S. The car was a joint project between Toyota/Scion and Subaru, who continues to make the Subaru BRZ. The cars share an engine and general styling cues but are sold separately by their respective companies.