Review: Toyota GT86 (2012)


Hugely enjoyable and involving to drive. Great amounts of grip and superb handling. Free-revving 2.0-litre non-turbo engine produces 200PS. Low rev torque improves for 2017 MY.

Cabin lacking in quality. Not suited to sitting in busy traffic. Poor torque up to 2016.

Toyota GT86 (2012): At A Glance

Since the demise of the Celica and the MR2, Toyota hasn't had a sports car. Which has been a real shame for a brand with a strong past in driver-focussed cars. In recent years Toyota has become better known for reliable and worthy cars like the Avensis and Auris.

But there's not been much to get excited about. Now that's changed with the GT86 - a sports coupe in the best traditions of Toyota.

It's actually been co-developed with Subaru which has its own version, the BRZ. Aside from the badge on the bonnet both are pretty much identical. The big surprise is that despite the current trend for turbocharged engines, the GT86 and BRZ use the same naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine developing 200PS.

It's an engine which does need to be worked hard to get the best out of it, but that only adds to the old-school sports car feel.

That's not to say it's gutless at low revs but with only a moderate 205Nm of torque which peaks at the top of the rev range it's clear that this is designed as proper driver's car. The light weight helps with performance - 0-62mph takes 7.6 seconds - and the lovely short shifting six-speed manual is a delight to use.

It handles superbly, helped by the rear-wheel drive set-up, with responsive and direct steering, great body control and huge amounts of grip. It's a car that really inspires confidence but more importantly is huge fun to drive. So while there may be other coupes that are quicker, nothing feels as enjoyable as the GT86. True it doesn't feel the most modern of sports cars, especially inside, but that only adds to its appeal.

Toyota GT86 2012 Road Test

What does a Toyota GT86 (2012) cost?

List Price from £27,830
Buy new from £24,222
Contract hire from £326.82 per month

Toyota GT86 (2012): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4240 mm
Width 1775 mm
Height 1285–1320 mm
Wheelbase 2570 mm

Full specifications

Like the rest of the GT86, the interior has been designed with a driver focus in mind. Functionality and usability are the key elements here, there's nothing superfluous and the layout is simple. It's not exactly dated but it doesn't feel particularly cutting edge either, especially features like the old fashioned digital clock which looks like a throwback to the 1980s.

There are plenty of good things though. The driving position is perfect with a low slung seat and good reach adjustment in the steering so even taller drivers will find it accommodating.

Black cloth upholstery is standard, but there's the option of black cloth with red styling, black leather and Alcantara, or black leather with red Alcantara and extra red details on the door grips, steering wheel, gear lever and parking brake. Both of these options include heaters for the front seats.

The small steering wheel has a quality feel to it and the sports seats are great with plenty of side support. The dials are nice and simple too, dominated by a large rev counter and a digital speedo. The air conditioning controls with their bolt-shaped dials are a bit clunky but there's a nice row of rocker switches below and an engine start button.

Despite its small size the GT86 does actually have rear seats - Toyota describes it was a 2+2 - but as with most coupes this size, they are only really suitable for carrying extra bags or as somewhere to put your coat. Still the boot is a reasonable size and the rear seats do at least fold down if you do need to carry something larger.

Standard equipment:

All GT86 models come with fully automatic dual-zone air conditioning, Smart Entry and Start system, cruise control, scuff plates, Toyota Touch touchscreen control system, Bluetooth for phone connection and music streaming and a USB port. As an option, the system can be upgraded to Toyota Touch and Go, with satellite navigation and advanced functions such as speed and safety camera warnings, on-board connection to Google Local Search and (via subscription) connected services providing data such as live parking and fuel price information and local weather forecasts.

Child seats that fit a Toyota GT86 (2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Toyota GT86 (2012) like to drive?

There's just the one engine choice in the GT86 - that non-turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol with 200PS. The GT86 was conceived as an entirely driver-focused machine and that's certainly reflected in the nature of the engine. The power peaks right at the top of the rev range at 7000rpm while the 205Nm comes in at its maximum at 6600rpm.

As a result the engine only really comes alive at above 5500rpm although it's so free-revving that it's easy to keep it buzzing at high revs and here it sounds really good too. There's a real honesty and back to basics feel to the GT86 and that's not meant in a bad way. You feel very connected to the driving experience which is a rare thing in modern cars. The engine was designed by Subaru and is a boxer unit which basically means that the cylinder lie horizontal rather than vertical (hence the term 'flat four').

It's the same set-up Porsche uses and means that the engine has a low centre of gravity - good for handling - and that characteristic noise. The fact the GT86 weighs just 1300kg means that it doesn't require a hugely powerful engine and although there are odd occassions where you feel an extra 20PS would really benefit, the majority of the time it's more than quick enough.

The standard gearbox is a lovely six-speed manual with a short positive shift. It means getting the most out of the engine is easy, helped further by a responsive throttle. Where the GT86 isn't as happy is in traffic. Drive it in a busy city soon becomes tiring although it is at least fairly sedate at low speeds and there's no big booming exhaust to give you a headache.

That said there is a nice exhaust sound in the cabin when you're working the engine. This is down to a clever system which channels the sounds from the engine directly into the cabin. Under gentle acceleration there is a soft intake sound, which changes to a sports car note under full throttle.

Of course it's out on open roads where the GT86 is in its element. It may not be the quickest coupe around but what it may lack in outright power it makes up for in handling.

Thanks to the rear-wheel drive set-upand an electronic limited slip differential, it's superb in and out of corners with amazing grip - even in the wet - and great traction too. The stability control system isn't overly intrusive but can be switched to intervene later giving a little more slip before it kicks in. Good if you're having a bit more fun but still want a safety net.

The GT86 comes with fairly sensible 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. Interestingly Toyota decided that the GT86 shouldn't rely on high performance tyres, so it's fitted with the same 215/45 R17 tyres as Toyota Prius. Not only does this mean that new tyres won't cost the earth but if you do upgrade to high performance tyres the difference will be very noticeable.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 33–36 mpg 7.6 s 180–196 g/km
2.0 Automatic 35–40 mpg 7.6–8.2 s 164–183 g/km

Real MPG average for a Toyota GT86 (2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

27–43 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Toyota GT86 (2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Is there a two-seater sports car that has room behind for a small dog?

Many years ago I drove an MGB GT which was basically two seats plus a shelf, but handy for a small dog. I now am looking for a more up to date sporty soft top car with similar features. What do you recommend? I'm keen on the Mazda MX-5, but there is no room and certainly no space behind the seats.
Unfortunately, I think you might have to look at something slightly bigger, like a BMW 2 Series Convertible, to have the space you require. Alternatively, consider a Toyota GT86 - it's more practical yet as fun to drive as an MX-5, but isn't available as a convertible.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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