The intuitive handling capability of the Toyota 86 is not just a myth. It comes from carefully put together figures and features that bestow a ‘freedom attitude’ upon the car, leaving the driver in real control.
The Toyota 86 seats you in a position where speed is felt the fastest, and the rider is almost one with the road. Its aerodynamic low-flung silhouette is punctuated with airflow features like the louver-shaped air intake grille in front and aero stabilizing fins all over. Under its swooping hood, the Boxer engine format makes it possible to keep the hood-line and the beltline closest to the surface. The 86 has its centre of gravity placed at an awe-inspiring low – 460mm or 18.1 inch from the ground. The .27 drag co-efficient is a category best as well.
Holding on to the steering in the 86 gave me the feeling of sitting before a video game. At 365mm, this wheel is the smallest ever made by Toyota and spells a hell of lot of confidence to the gripping hand. At the heart of this sports car is “the balance of lightness”. The nearly 1700 kg car has a front : rear weight distribution ratio of 53:47, which translates into an almost unshakable stability while carving out sharp corners. These are figures that prompt its comparison with stalwarts like the Porsche Cayman. But then, the Toyota 86 is not about competing with any other. It upholds the ideal of maximizing driving pleasure with what is available – it’s about the continuous uplifting of the driver’s skills and spirit.
This feeling of ruling the personal domain is perhaps the reason why it’s hard to find a Toyota 86 on the road that hasn’t been personalized in some way or the other. Plus, the car has been built with the immense possibilities for modification as exemplified by the Emirates Drifting Team in its 600 bhp version.
Driver aids like ABS and EBD are standard, while a torque sensitive Limited Slip Differential is available except in the automatic base version, to maximize grip in the driving wheel. The advanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) of 86 has a very ‘understanding’ Sport mode that ‘sits and watches’ as you push your luck sideways before the system finally intervenes. And of course, you can still play rebel by shutting it out completely!
Thrusting you into tight corners and not your confidence, the 86 defines a curve just as sharply as the hard shoulder does and lets you indulge in every road imperfection. Getting high on a Toyota 86 is not about the adrenaline rush that screams from beneath the startled wheels or the cloud of dust you cover the competition in. It comes from the way it makes you feel – as a better driver.