First Drive: 2022 Toyota GR86

First Drive: 2022 Toyota GT86

by Michael Satterfield - 06/23/2022

To be honest, Toyota has been off my radar for a while, outside of the Supra which wears its Germanic roots on its sleeve, it felt like they were just slapping TRD badges and wings on production cars and hoping that no one would notice. As someone who came of age in the early 2000s, I remember Toyota as a much more sporty brand. The MR2, Celica, Supra, and even the Toyota Paseo looked kinda sporty. 

The A80 Supra ended production in 1998, the Celica 2006, the MR2 2007, and it wouldn't be until 2012 that we would get a sporty Toyota in the US again, this time badged Scion FR-S and a Subaru BRZ. Thankfully the Scion experiment ended in 2016, so 2017 saw the first Toyota-badged sports car sold in the US in over a decade.

First Drive: 2022 Toyota GT86

Shortly after the new Supra came out Toyota remembered that they used to make a lot of fun affordable sports cars and decided to return to their roots, first by rolling out the Carolla XSE which I declared was the best Carolla in 30 years. Now Toyota has upped the ante with the forthcoming GR Carolla, which is going to be one of the most desirable hot hatches on the road once deliveries start later this year. Sadly we didn't get the GR Yaris, but Toyota has expanded its sporting credentials to three vehicles for North America, the GR Supra, the GR Carolla, and this GR86.

Sliding behind the wheel the GR86 has the sparse, functional interior you would expect in an affordable sports car, but that is how it is supposed to be. While it is hard to find a vehicle to compare to the GR86 since the two-door market is fairly limited these days, with 228hp it is more than the 181hp of the MX-5 RF but less than the base model Porsche Cayman which has 300hp. While I know a lot of people would want to compare the GR86 to the 400Z, the Z is more on par with the Supra with its 400hp twin-turbo V6 and its projected starting price of just over $41,000. 

With a starting price of $27,700, the GR86 is over $7,500 less than a base MX-5 RF and you can buy two GR86s for the entry price of a 718 Cayman making it the best sports car bargain on the market. The test vehicle I have is the Premium model with the paddle-shifted automatic transmission, and while most enthusiasts will want the manual transmission, the paddles are surprisingly good when the car is in track mode. Under the hood, the new GR86 gets an additional .4 liters and 28 horsepower compared to the previous 86. 

First Drive: 2022 Toyota GT86

Toyota also made the chassis stiffer and added more aluminum panels to keep the weight down. The Base model comes on 17-inch Michelin Primacy H/P tires. While the Premium gets interior upgrades, a duckbill spoiler, and 18-inch wheels on Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. The GR86 is also flexing its sporting credentials with a new single-make series the GR86 Cup that will be launching alongside SRO in 2023. A Special Edition is GR86 will be released in 2023, just 860 will be produced in an exclusive color called Solar Shift, it will also get forged 18-inch wheels, a GR cat-back exhaust, and racing stripes.