Common sense would seem to dictate that the Toyota 86 and its Subaru BRZ twin are the sorts of cars that really shouldn't exist in the third decade of the 21st Century. The buying public is obsessed with pickup trucks and crossovers and SUVs, with coupes selling in mere handfuls compared to their past success. Electric motors and battery packs are replacing internal-combustion engines and gas tanks. Performance (and success) is increasingly measured in terms of quantifiable stats — power, acceleration, lateral g-forces — rather than hard-to-analyze factors like "involvement" and "pleasure."
Yet, in spite all that — or perhaps in glorious defiance of it — Toyota and Subaru have once again joined forces to create a lightweight, affordable sports car that prioritizes driving enjoyment above all else.
Subaru revealed their version, the 2022 BRZ, first, taking the wraps off it late last year. Now, it's Toyota's turn. And while the 2022 GR 86 won't be much of a surprise to anyone who's seen the Subaru version, it should still be a hoot to drive. Here's what we know so far.
Yup. Toyota (and Subaru) didn't change the recipe much for the second-generation version of their joint sports car: it's still a svelte two-door coupe with a four-cylinder boxer engine under the hood. (These days, of course, the Toyobaru is emblematic of the tighter ties between the two companies; Toyota and Subaru entered into a business alliance back in late 2019, which means the GR 86 / BRZ will be one of many jointly-developed vehicles for the companies, including an electric crossover and, reportedly, a new hot hatch.)
That's the truth. As you can see nicely in this image, the physical differences between Subaru and Toyota versions of the Toyobaru 2.0 are pretty few and far between — even more so than with the first-generation cars. Each has a slightly different front fascia, with varied grilles and air intakes, but beyond that, the details are small enough that you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference at first glance without checking the badges.
The easiest way to remember which is which: the Subaru is the one that seems to be smiling, while the Toyota is the car that looks like it's pouting.
It better. Handling fun, after all, is largely the point of the Toyobaru twins. Of course, Toyota and Subaru are well aware of that — and while we'll have to wait to lay our hands on it to know for sure, all the specs seem to indicate that the new GR 86 should be an absolute dream to drive.
The center of gravity — already low on the previous model — has been dropped even farther, thanks to the use of aluminum body panels in places like the roof and fenders to bring down weight (in both senses of the term). The body, in turn, is even more inflexible than before, with torsional rigidity up 50 percent over the past model.
As with the BRZ, those expecting (or hoping for) a turbocharged or supercharged motor will be disappointed. The GR 86 uses a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine, just like its forbear.
However, the new engine is larger, packing 2.4 liters to the previous version's 2.0 — and the power rises as a result. Horsepower is up from 205 to 232, but more importantly, torque climbs from a mere 156 lb-ft to a meatier 184. Maximum twist now arrives at 3,700 rpm, as well — making it far more accessible than in the previous version, where max torque didn't show up until 6,400 rpm.
As a result, Toyota claims the new GR 86 can accelerate from 0-62 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds, 1.1 seconds quicker than they claim the old model did the deed. (That said, Car and Driver blasted the old version from 0-60 in 6.2, so we're hoping the new version can actually break into the fives.)
The original GR 86 — which, if you'll recall, was originally sold as the Scion FR-S until Toyota took its youth-oriented brand out behind the barn and put it out of its misery — was designed to be something of a casual drift machine, capable of breaking traction even at reasonable real-world speeds. Part of the way it accomplished this was through the use of, well, distinctly un-sporty tires; the original rubber was the same as the optional tires found on European Priuses.
The 2022 GR 86, as you can see here, isn't playing that game. It's outfitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4s, an ultra-high-performance summer tire designed for maximum grip in good weather. Drifting might take a little more work (at least in the dry), but autocross lap times should drop.
If you've sampled the outgoing Toyota 86, the new version's interior should seem fairly familiar. Don't expect expansive room, but most adults should be able to tuck themselves in nicely behind the wheel and find the pedals and gear lever well-suited for snappy shifts.
There's a 7.0-inch screen that makes up the heart of the instrument panel now, showcasing a facsimile of an analog tachometer front and center and other info on the left (fixed digital fuel and engine temp gauges sit on the right). And yes, folks, that is a good old-fashioned parking brake lever you see there
Toyota says the 2022 GR 86 will go on sale in Japan this fall; the carmaker's U.S. media site, meanwhile, just says that "U.S. product plans for this exciting new vehicle will be provided at a later date." We'd be shocked if it went on sale here before it did in its home market, however, so don't plan on parking one of these in your driveway before the leaves turn.
When it comes time to hit the road for a long drive, make sure you have all of these in your car.