Blue Sky Driving

It may be nearly seven years old, but there is no signs of that dreaded seven year itch; I still think the Toyota 86 is a gorgeous looking car. For me it has the perfect sports car silhouette and when they were first released I found myself turning my head every time I saw one on the road. I kept thinking they were a Ferrari 458, which is quite a compliment.

The Apollo Blue paint of this Toyota 86 GTS inspired something in me that I have called ‘Blue Sky Driving’; it’s the combination of a special car on a sunny day and your favourite driving road.

I spent a week with the Toyota 86 GTS with the dynamic performance pack including Brembo brakes and SACHS suspension. It has a 6-speed manual gearbox and a 2.0L 4-cylinder Boxer engine with 152kW @ 7,000rpm and 212Nm @ 6,400-6,800rpm.

The 86 does require 98RON petrol and the official combined fuel economy is 8.4L/100km and for the week I spent with the 86 I achieved 9.7L/100km. The engine is geared quite high with 100km/hr in sixth gear being achieved at 2,800rpm, making it a bit noisy when cruising down the highway.

The drive in the Toyota 86 is very stable even at higher speeds thanks to the development done by Toyota at the Nürburgring, Fuji International Speedway, Suzuka Circuit and the Shibetsu Proving Ground in Japan. The SACHS suspension is not so firm that your teeth will be chattering as you drive down a bumpy road.

On the inside of the Toyota 86 you get black leather accented heated front seats with Alcantara fabric inserts and these are grippy and hip hugging. The driver’s seat has three way manual adjustment and the passenger seat has two way adjustment.

The steering is nicely weighted, it has precise movements and the steering wheel nice to touch, but could be a bit thicker for my liking. There are limited controls on the steering wheel, so the design is clean. I really liked the view from the driver’s seat down the bonnet because the wheel arches have a bulge that gives the bonnet a cute shape.

The taco takes pride of place in front of the driver and there is a shift light at 7,000rpm to tell you when to change gears through the box with its short, positive shift throws, before the 7,400rpm red line. You can also adjust when the shift light kicks in and include an audible tone as well via the on-board computer if you prefer.

To the right of the big taco there is a small screen on the dash gives trip info/engine temp etc. info. If you scroll across that screen you also get a lap counter and stop watch for your lap times. Which is probably a good time to mention that there are two traction control settings on the 86; one that turns off the traction control and another labelled ‘Track’. This setting allows more slip from the RWD 86 when cornering hard before the stability control cuts in, which has been tuned to allow people to experience faster lap times in general compared to the standard settings.

Considering that there is a Toyota 86 one-make racing series and that I’ve heard stories from many Toyota 86 owners about ‘tracking’ their cars I asked Toyota Australia what their stance was on track days and their new vehicle warranty.

Toyota Australia responded “Our warranty does generally not cover any track day, race or competition usage of our vehicles; however any faults have to be assessed on a case by case basis. For example we would cover any faults that cannot be directly attributable to track use and can be considered a manufacturing fault, even if the vehicle has been used on track, for example if the radio stops working. Toyota also complies fully with the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010, so this is also used as the basis for assessing any failures under warranty.”

The 6.1 inch colour touchscreen displays the rear view camera, has satellite navigation with SUNA traffic channel and Bluetooth connectivity for your phone and audio. There is one USB outlet up next to the screen and another USB and an AUX outlet at the base of the centre console with a storage cubby for your phone there as well. In the arm rest area there is a moveable/removable two cup holder and a 12V outlet.

I review cars from the standpoint of a mum with children and the Toyota 86 has a four seat capacity with two rear tether/two ISOFIX child restraint points. Even though it looked impossible to do I installed the booster seat for my daughter and my son sat behind me. Fitting the booster seat was OK due to its flexible nature, but a more rigid car seat would struggle to fit in due to the sloping roof and position of the C-pillar.

I can report that the Toyota 86 is not a family car, my driving position was laughable. I looked like a clown squashed into a miniature car my knees were hard up against the dash so my nine year old son could fit behind me and even then he only had a small amount of leg room. My husband also had the passenger seat as far forward as physically possible in order for my daughter to fit her legs down. It was uncomfortable for all of us.

You may be able to live with the Toyota 86 while one child is very young and their legs don’t dangle far off their car seat and also can’t talk, so won’t whinge to you if they are uncomfortable. I think beyond two years old it’s not going to work well if you have two adults in the front of the car. Then the Toyota 86 can become your fun car that you take out driving on those occasions when you get a child-free moment.

The weekly shop in the shallow boot of the Toyota 86.

The boot is quite shallow and not very large; it fits a weekly shop, but would only accommodate a small stroller and small shop. There is no spare tyre and only a run flat repair kit. You can fold the rear seats down to stow larger items if needed.

The Toyota 86 model range has a five star ANCAP safety rating and seven airbags. It comes with Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist. But other than that there is no lane keep assist or adaptive cruise control (it just has standard cruise control).

This Toyota 86 GTS is a fun little car that I really enjoyed driving. In addition to the Apollo Blue paint and upgraded suspension and brakes the 86 I drove also had unique black 17″ alloy wheels, black exterior mirrors and black spoiler and it costs $39,590 plus on road expenses.

The thing is though at about 4,500rpm the engine gets loud and being I’m used to turbo charged engines that are very common these days I got ready for that shove of extra power, but alas it doesn’t come. No matter how many times I put my right foot down that extra power didn’t kick in and this left me feel just a bit disappointed, the 86 really needs another 50-100kW of power to match its beautiful sports car looks.

You may not be able to take your children out for a long drive in the Toyota 86, but as I’ve said many times before that’s OK because as parents we all need a little alone time every now and then to do some blue sky driving to maintain good mental health.

Visit your preferred Toyota dealer to test drive the Toyota 86 for yourself.

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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