The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Toyota had several options regarding the second generation 86 sports car. Never an especially strong seller, the quick and easy decision could have been to let the original model age out with no successor. CEO Akio Toyoda, who's pledged to build more emotional cars, did not accept that. Therefore, two alternatives remained: update an existing and proven formula or take a radically different and pricier approach. The former was chosen and we couldn't be happier.
The new 2022 Toyota GR 86 ('GR' stands for Gazoo Racing) keeps the sporty rear-wheel-drive spirit alive and shares an engine, design, and overall mechanics with the also redesigned second-gen Subaru BRZ. Like before, the coupes are nearly identical, affectionately called the Toyobaru twins. The rear-wheel-drive layout will certainly continue to lure enthusiasts, especially those on a budget. Big power and performance is not the goal here, but rather driving pleasure. Toyota simply made a great little sports coupe even better.
Like the BRZ, Toyota GR 86 designers preferred to keep things relatively simple. The first-gen model didn't break any design ground and nor does its successor. Roughly an inch longer and nearly half an inch lower than its predecessor, the 2022 GR 86's more compact stance looks good in combination with the flared wheel arches and a new front grille with a GR-specific functional matrix pattern.
You'll also notice the larger front air intakes and side vents, the latter helping to reduce drag by funneling air from under the hood. At the rear there are dual exhausts, a ducktail-like spoiler, and new taillight designs. Aerodynamic components, such as the side spoilers, are motorsport technologies.
Engineers made additional improvements to the body and torsional rigidity which should translate to improved handling and steering.
Again, Toyota could have made dramatic changes here but wisely chose not to. The horizontally-accented instrument panel is simple and to the point. Drivers will find a 7-inch TFT screen featuring an opening animation sequence inspired by the engine's piston movements. The switches and HVAC controls are clear and easy to reach.
The 2+2 layout remains, though rear-seat passengers won't find much space unless they're vertically challenged adults or children. The rear seats fold flat once again, allowing for increased cargo space for things like golf clubs and other gear.
Cars equipped with the optional automatic transmission receive Subaru's excellent EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, a suite of systems that includes pre-collision safety technologies, emergency rescue support, and secondary collision avoidance support if there's an accident.
Our prayers have finally been answered. The 2022 GR 86, like the new BRZ, drops the old 2.0-liter naturally aspirated Boxer four in favor of a new 2.4-liter Boxer engine, also without forced induction. Toyota rates the engine at 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, a nice increase over the outgoing model's 205 hp and 156 lb-ft rating. Torque now kicks in at 3,700 rpm, a solid improvement over 6,400 rpm in the outgoing car. Zero to 62 mph takes 6.3 seconds, a decrease of 1.1 seconds.
Buyers have a choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox, the latter featuring a new Sport mode. Power goes to the rear wheels only. Keeping the car light and maintain a low center of gravity was a must and Toyota managed this with numerous weight-saving methods like an aluminum roof, fenders, and mufflers. Total curb weight (for manual models) comes to 2,799 pounds, slightly up from its predecessor's 2,624 pounds.
Official pricing has not been announced but we expect the 2022 Toyota GR 86 to start at around $31,000. Sales are expected to get underway by the end of the year.
The affordable sports car segment is not what it once was, meaning the GR 86 and BRZ don't have serious competition. There is the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Miata RF, though they lack the rear seat and extra cargo space of the Toyobaru twins. Those who must have a rear seat for any reason and want to shop around should look no further than the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. Although both offer affordable V8 power, the base models are still powerful enough with 275 hp and 310 hp, respectively. Prices for America's muscles cars start in the mid-$20k range.
Later this year, the next-generation Nissan 400Z is expected to debut with standard V6 power and RWD. We predict this will be the GR 86's most serious competition but it'll probably carry a slightly higher starting price.