Following a quiet departure of the GT86 from New Zealand showrooms earlier this year, Toyota revealed the new GR86 in Japan over Easter, effectively marking the second coming of the excellent front engine, rear driven, GT86. 

Since the introduction in 2012, the 86 has globally become synonymous for a bygone era of analogue sports cars, when less was more and driver pleasure outweighed horsepower.

Kiwis seemed to agree with this notion, with Toyota having sold 709 units in various specs since the 86’s first debut. All featured the 2.0-litre normally aspirated flat four boxer engine supplied by Subaru, which developed the 86 in partnership with Toyota.

By adding GR to the new 86’s name, Toyota claims they’re acknowledging the car’s motor racing connection and positions it in the growing stable of racing-bred and racing-destined sports cars – the GR Supra and GR Yaris.

In addition to that Toyota New Zealand Chief Operating Officer, Neeraj Lala, said “Expect more GR models to be introduced in NZ over the next 18 months as we look to inject the perfect blend of high octane and low emission vehicles to our line-up”. 

Much like the outgoing vehicle, the GR86 has been jointly designed with Subaru. This means a new 2.4-litre boxer engine, lifting overall power to 173kW and torque to 250Nm.  The engine is paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.  The combo delivers a 0-100km/h acceleration of just 6.3 seconds―down from the 7.4 seconds of the outgoing model.

Among many other performance improvements, Toyota claims that turning performance and handling agility have been improved due to a lower centre of gravity, achieved by measures that include the adoption of lightweight aluminium roof panels and fenders, new front seats and redesigned mufflers.

The body dimensions are similar to the previous model, while torsional rigidity has been improved by approximately 50% to deliver greater steering stability.

The aesthetic changes to the new GR86 are obvious. The GR86 features a GR-exclusive grille, fender tops that extend horizontally to the beltline, a low, horizontal underbody and a cabin that tapers towards the rear.

The bodywork adds benefits from aerodynamic components derived through motorsport, including air outlets, side-sill spoilers and other parts which serve to improve steering responsiveness and stability.

Inside, there’s been a significant cabin refresh to accompany a different body. Toyota claims that the controls are optimally arranged to create a space that enables the driver to concentrate on driving.

There’s also a few tech tricks, including an opening animation inspired by the piston movements of the horizontally opposed engine on the instrument cluster.

Unlike last time, the GR 86 will only be seen wearing Toyota badges in New Zealand, meaning we will not see the sister-car, the Subaru BRZ. 

The new GR 86 is scheduled to launch in Japan in Autumn 2021, Toyota New Zealand is yet to confirm when the GR 86 will reach our shores.

But when it does, DriveLife sure is keen to get behind the wheel.

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