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Almost Great: Toyota GT86

1 year ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


25 November 2022

We talk a lot on Ti – some might say too much? – about how modern cars have grown too powerful and heavy in recent years. Such doom and gloom is understandable. Every other week seems to see the launch of another uber-SUV with telephone-number power outputs and its own gravitational field, apparently designed and engineered with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

As a result, we tend to cherish the standouts that somehow resist the trend towards more-is-better – small, light cars like the Mazda MX-5 or Alpine A110. But in 2011, five years before car journalists unleashed buckets of purple prose in praise of the A110’s lightweight build, modest power and resultant agility, Toyota and Subaru had teamed up to develop a car (two cars, even) that tapped into the same recipe of relatively compact dimensions, a strict diet, modest power and skinny tyres – the Toyota GT86 and its sister car, the Subaru BRZ: the Toyobaru twins.

There is almost nothing about the GT86 that I don’t like. I like the name for starters, evoking the AE86 or hachi-roku of Initial D fame. It’s pretty small – 4240mm long, around 1300mm tall and crucially, a modest 1775mm wide. Japanese car designers are still influenced by long-defunct tax laws that penalised excessive vehicle width, and long may they remain so.

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