After about eight years on sale in New Zealand the GT86 was discontinued, and back in 2021, Toyota announced that it would be replaced with the new GR86. With a bigger engine, refreshed interior, more technology and improved weight distribution, the GR86 promised to be a great upgrade. We waited, and waited, and finally in 2023 the GR86 hit New Zealand shores.

Can it really be six years since I last drove a GT86? I have fond memories of the original GT86, having experienced it on the road and track, with my only reservation being that the very firm ride made it tiring as a daily drive. How would the new version stack up? I drove one for a wet winter week to find out.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2023 Toyota GR86

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Too quiet
Soft indicators
Camera resolution/dated infotainment
Airbag light

What’s In The 2023 Toyota GR86 Range?

There are two trim levels, and two transmission options for your GR86.

The GR86, priced at $58,490 with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto transmission.

The GR86 10th Anniversary, priced at $59,990 with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto transmission.

The 10th Anniversary edition adds a Matte Black Rear Lip Spoiler, orange accents on the seats, Black (rather than silver) Painted Ornamentation, 10th Anniversary Orange Logo Stitching on Upper Front Door Trim, orange trimmed steering wheel with cast metal paddle switches (on the auto) and Active Cruise Control Setting.

Both models have the same 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder boxer engine making 174kW of power and 250Nm of torque.

Like the Supra, none are currently unavailable but you can register for the 2024 allocation.

2023 Toyota GR86 Standard Equipment Highlights

  • Front Brakes – Ventilated Disc with Floating Caliper, 2-Cylinder
  • Rear Brakes – Ventilated Disc Brake with Floating Caliper, 1-Cylinder
  • Front Suspension – MacPherson Strut with Stabiliser Bar, Front Performance Rod
  • Rear Suspension – Double Wishbone with Stabiliser Bar
  • Bluetooth
  • 2 USB charging ports
  • Apple Carplay and Android Auto
  • 6-speaker audio system
  • 8” Central touch screen
  • ABS
  • Brake Assist
  • Blind Spot Detection
  • EBD
  • Hill-start Assist Control
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Traction Control
  • Vehicle Stability Control
  • Tyre Pressure Monitor
  • 7 airbags
  • 2 ISOfix with tether anchors
  • Reversing Camera with Dynamic Guidelines
  • 18” alloys
  • Bi-beam LED headlights with washers
  • Door mirrors – Heated with Electric Adjust and Folding
  • Ultrasuede and Leather Accented seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Driver’s Seat with Manual Slide, Recline and Vertical Height Adjustment.
  • Front Passenger with Manual Slide and Recline.
  • Smart Entry and Push Button Start with GR Logo

Colours available are

  • Midnight Black
  • Spark Red
  • Ice Silver
  • Crystal White
  • Magnetite Grey
  • Sapphire Blue

Interior trim can be black or red.

For a full list of specs and options available for the Toyota GR86 jump on over to the Toyota New Zealand website.

How Does The 2023 Toyota GR86 Compare To Its Competition?

There’s really no direct competition for this car in New Zealand. The similarly-priced Mazda MX-5 is a different type of car and driving experience, and the Nissan Z and GR Supra are totally different beasts.

All prices below exclude the refund or additional cost of the New Zealand Clean Car Programme.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/
SeatsFuel L/100kmBoot
(excl CCP)
Toyota GR862.4-litre 4-Cylinder Boxer174/2502 + 210.6226$58,490
Mazda MX-5 RF2.0-litre 4-cylinder Petrol135/20527.2127$54,395

First Impressions Of The 2023 Toyota GR86

The red GR86 was proudly on display outside Tasman Toyota as I walked up to the door. It really stands out in Spark Red and is definitely a great-looking car. Whilst it’s clearly an 86, with the side profile largely unchanged from the GT86, the front and rear have been styled quite differently to the previous car.

There’s a big, squarish grille, more rounded headlights and a re-shaped bonnet which make the car look taller (it’s not), and I think cuter and less aggressive. I like what they’ve done with the sides of the front bumper, integrating the foglights and indicators into the cluster and replacing them with vents and black trims.

The front wings have gained a large vent behind the wheels, and the lower sills have a much more pronounced profile. The rear window looks a little lower and longer, and should let a bit more light into the rear seat area. The roof aerial is now a shark fin antenna.

The rear lights have been redesigned, number plate moved down into the bumper, and a ducktail spoiler added, which I like very much. There’s still a pair of fat, round tailpipes poking out of the rear diffuser.

The whole effect is an evolution of the 86 GT and it feels more modern whilst retaining the overall character of the previous car.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2023 Toyota GR86?

Almost everyone’s reaction upon opening the door of the GR86 was “oo, red carpets!”, myself included. It’s striking, and I would choose this option, despite concerns about how they might wear and show dirt. They definitely lift the dark interior and give it even more of a sporty character. The alloy pedal and footrest covers look great too.

The front seats are excellent, sitting low in the cabin, and clad in leather with alcantara centres so you don’t slide around. They look great with a red central stripe and are really comfortable, with decent side bolsters to hold you in place. All adjustments are done in the old-school way with mechanical levers.

The dash is all-new, but retains the cool circular vents in the corners. The media system with its 8” central touch-screen is a big improvement from the previous Toyota system, which was showing its age. Saying that it still feels a generation behind other manufacturers’ systems when it comes to resolution, responsiveness and features. The reversing camera is a good example of this, its resolution is okay, but it looks like 720p TV compared to other’s 4K systems.

I was happy to note, however, that there are still physical buttons at the sides, and a proper volume knob. The six-speaker system supports Android Auto and Apple Carplay but it’s wired-only, via one of the two USB ports. Sound quality of the audio system is really good, and definitely an improvement on the 86 GT’s system.

Under the screen Toyota continues with simple physical controls for the dual-zone climate control, plus various buttons for demisters etc. This is how I want my sports car to be. Simple. Manual controls. Saying that, the silver plastic buttons at the bottom may look good but they feel cheap and flimsy.

Behind the gear lever there are buttons to turn the traction control down or off, and a couple of reassuringly old-fashioned and solid rocker switches for the heated seats. You have two settings for heating, Hi and Lo.

The centre cubby is where you’ll find those USB ports, and twin cup holders which, are behind where your elbow wants to be when driving, but in a really awkward place to reach. Maybe they are best only used when parked. At least there’s a nice padded cover that folds over them to make a much nicer elbow resting spot.

The driver’s display is a fully digital 7” screen with a large and clear digital speedometer and rev-counter smack in the middle, exactly where you want it in a sporty manual car. To the left and right are customisable readouts for temperatures, voltage, fuel, track timer, G-force meter, fule usage, whatever you choose.

There are two rear seats in the GR86, but they’re only really practical for small kids as there’s no leg room. I’m average height at 178cm, and with the driver’s seat in a comfortable position there was about 5cm between the front and rear seats. Not even enough to get my laptop bag in there. There are ISOfix mounts and child seat tethers so if you do have young kids you can still drive a sports car.

The rear seat back folds flat in a single piece so that you can get larger items into the boot, and that certainly makes the GR86 more practical. The boot has a generous (for a sports car) 226 litres of storage with the rear seat in place, making the seat foldable means you can do the occasional run to the DIY store too.

What’s The 2023 Toyota GR86 Like To Drive?

Upon sitting in the GR86 you’re greeted with a spinning GR logo on the driver’s display. Entry is keyless and there’s a start button complete with a GR logo. The shift knob has a GR logo too, just to make sure you know. Push in the clutch and smash that start button and… there’s a very muted engine noise with a hint of that good-old boxer engine off-beat sound.

The 86 GT had a sound tube from the intake to the cabin by the driver’s feet, to give you a bit more engine noise. The internet at the time was outraged about this “fake engine noise”. Fast forward to 2023 and the sound tube is no more, replaced with a speaker system that does the same thing. This has become more and more common in new cars, and to be honest I hardly noticed it in the GR86. This is a very quiet car, and in stock form it’s definitely more about feel than noise.

I paired my phone with no issues, got my driving position sorted out, and set off into lunchtime traffic. It was raining when I picked up the GR86, and the clutch took a little getting used to after driving the GR Supra for a week. The 86 clutch is light, and has a biting point like an on-off switch meaning my first few shifts were pretty jerky and involved a bit of wheel spin on the wet roads. This probably made me grin more than it should.

The first thing I noticed was the ride. It’s much more comfortable than the GT86. It’s still firm but doesn’t jiggle your wobbly bits over every imperfection in the road like the previous car did. This is a great improvement and was the main thing that would have stopped me wanting to daily drive the GT86.

The second thing I noticed, it being a cold wet day, was the heater, not something we remark on very often as these systems generally just work, but it’s really good, and the aircon cools really well in the hot sun too.

The third was there’s no over-shoulder view at all, so it’s a good thing that the GR86 has blind-spot warning to keep you (and particularly two-wheeled road users) safer when changing lanes. There’s also rear cross-traffic alert which will alert you to approaching cars when you’re reversing out of a space.

The LED headlights are great, and have a cornering function that works really well on those back country roads and driveways. At night there was one thing that really irritated me about the GR86 and that was the way-too-bright passenger airbag indicator light. It’s in the roof above the rear-view mirror, is orange, and is lit up all the time. It’s really bright to the point where it catches your eye constantly. That would be my first modification to the car – a square of black tape covering that light.

For some reason Toyota have gone with soft indicators in the GR86. Like the ones BMW used a few years ago and everyone hated, push up or down to turn and the stalk re-centres rather than staying there until the indicator clicks off. Sometimes you want to manually cancel and end up indicating the other way. They’re irritating, but you do get used to them after a while.

The new 2.4-litre boxer engine makes its peak 250Nm of torque at 3700rpm, compared to the old car’s 6400rpm. This makes it a much more pleasant and usable car in day-to-day driving, and is very noticeable, giving the car a much more responsive and perky feel.

The GR86 has 18” wheels shod with relatively narrow Michelin 215/40R18 tyres. Much was made of this by motoring journalists on the old car, and this hasn’t changed. They’re the same profile but with more power and torque going through the rear wheels.

This means if you don’t treat it with a little respect, the GR86 wants to break traction, and if you’re heavy-handed it wants to go sideways. This is a car that needs to be really driven, and I applaud that! You can potter along in traffic and the light clutch and decent torque help you out. It’s never a pain on the left leg even in stop/start traffic queues.

Get out on a decent driving road and the GR86 is in its element. It’s a car in which even when you’re just getting where you’re going, not out purely for the drive, you will find yourself smiling. It feels well-balanced, has enough power to get you into trouble, and gives real driving satisfaction. It’s all about the way it handles – shift down for a corner, turn in, power on and feel the rear grip and push you around. It gives you confidence and feels great. It won’t blow your socks off with straight-line speed like the Supra does, but it is eager, and perky, and will make you grin every time you drive it.

Overall I like the GR86 very much, it’s a step forward from the previous car, with improved power, torque, and above all, ride quality.

Finally fuel consumption. Toyota claim a relatively high 10.6 litres per 100km in the GR86. Over a few hundred kilometres of mixed open road and city driving, I used 9.7 litres per 100km.

2023 Toyota GR86 – Specifications

Vehicle Type2+2 Sports Car
Starting Price$58,490
Price as Tested$58,490
Engine2.4-litre 4-Cylinder, Boxer Engine, 16-Valve Double Overhead Cam with D-4S – Direct and Port Fuel Injection
Power, Torque
Transmission6-speed manual
Spare WheelTyre repair kit
Kerb Weight, Kg1,286
Length x Width x Height
4265 x 1775 x 1310
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
Fuel tank capacity,
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 10.6
Real-World Test – Combined – 9.7
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Not rated
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty3-year or 100,000km warranty (whichever comes first)
Safety informationANCAP Rating – Not yet – 5 Stars – 86GR

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Rob Clubley
I love everything about cars! Driving, looking at them, modifying. It's great to see what people do with cars, the different car cultures. If I was rich, my garage would be bigger than my house!
2023-toyota-gr86-car-reviewI really enjoyed the GR86. It’s great fun, looks good and I think is usable as a daily driver. There are some quirks that might irritate in general use but nothing serious. I’d definitely be looking at an aftermarket exhaust for a little more of a sporty sound. That would definitely dial up the grin-factor even more. The car is a step up from the GT86 in every way - comfort, power, handling, interior, looks. And it really has no competition in the new car market. Sure there are other coupes, but they’re totally different to drive. I commend Toyota (and Subaru) for continuing to make a relatively simple and affordable sports car in this age of SUVs, hybrids and EVs. Long may it continue.


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