Toyota GT 86

Toyota GT86, rear
Toyota GT86, front
Toyota GT86, action
Toyota GT86, interior
Toyota GT86, boot

THERE'S a bit of a clue in the name of Toyota's newest coupe that marks it out as something special.

Called the GT 86, it harks back to a rather special hot hatch called the Corolla GT in the bygone days of the Eighties - codenamed AE 86 - which was renowned for its rapid response and razor sharp handling.

The shape of the latest model is much more rakish but the formula of pedigree road holding, bags of fun and a reasonable price tag remains consistent.

A joint venture with Subaru, which has its own version called the BRZ, the GT 86 comes in at a few quid under £25,000 setting it in direct opposition to models like the VW Scirocco, Megane RenaultSport and Audi TT Coupe.

Out-and-out speed isn't the aim of the Toyota, rather maximum driving satisfaction and sheer enjoyment of indulgent car control - which is why the power is directed towards the rear wheels rather the front.

Grunt is provided courtesy of a 2.0-litre, four cylinder petrol engine that delivers an acceptable 198bhp. Don't expect too many fireworks, though, because a 0-62mph time of just over seven seconds with a max of 135mph is a tad slower than the class average.

But the high revving boxer engine sounds great - if a little noisy - and has such sharp throttle response that it feels more like a single seat racer than a road going coupe. The ride is a bit like that too, with just enough vertical movement to make it acceptable over our rotten roads.

There's almost no body roll during hard cornering and the steering, with an ultra tight rack, is super sensitive. Relatively skinny tyres mean that the rear end can be kicked out of line easier than front drive rivals, but it can easily be coaxed back with a twitch of good-old fashioned opposite lock.

The cabin is really a two-seater with a couple of miniscule places in the rear which are ok for emergency lifts, but that's about it.

The facia is businesslike and sporty with little offered in the way of frippery or luxury. The materials used appear hard-wearing and appropriate rather than plush.

There's ample room for two up front but luggage space in the boot is a tight with a capacity of just 243 litres.

Drive the GT 86 in the way it tempts you to and you'll see your fuel needle sink rapidly close to the 25mpg mark, but go a bit easier and swap cogs well before the 7,500rpm red line and things improve to about 36-37mpg.

A six-speed gearbox is standard although an automatic transmission is offered as an option complete with paddle change. Climate control, cruise control, and full alarm system are all standard. Metallic paint is a £450 option.

Anyone who might have expected Toyota to produce a follow-up to the boulevard-cruising Celica Coupe will be surprised by the GT 86.

Despite its pretty shape and unexceptional acceleration stats, the new model is as light-footed and extrovert as they come.

FAST FACTS

Toyota GT 86

Price: £24,995

Mechanical: 198bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 135mph

0-62mph: 7.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 36.2

Insurance Group: 29

C02 emissions: 181g/km

Bik rating: 28%

Warranty: 5yrs/99,000 miles

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