By on April 12, 2012

So here’s what’s going to happen… They’ll drive it as hard as they dare, swinging it through corners and stamping on the gas, chucking it into hairpins and willfully trying to unsettle the rear, and all the while traction will be total. And you know what, not one of those drivers will say anything about it, because they’ll be too scared to be the limp-wristed bloke that can’t even drift what they’ve been told is the most driftable car in decades

So says Ben Barry in a recent Car editorial. He’s driven the car, we haven’t, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s correct. Well, so what? What if all that additional dealer profit won’t even get Joe Sixpack (sixpack of Sapporo, of course) sideways? What if the new Toyota can’t deliver the tofu?

Before we consider this question seriously, a brief personal disclaimer: I think drifting is literally the most idiotic thing someone can do with their car. I literally mean “literally” in this case. Ghost-riding the whip? Compared to drifting, I believe that is street ballet, the Joffrey of the parking lot. Street racing? Go ahead, you little rebels, you! Running over a group of nuns carrying baskets of kittens to a home full of lonely orphans? Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of vehicular homicide, my good man! Exiting a fourth-gear corner of the North-Shuh-Lyfe Ring just a little hot in a P7-shod ’76 Turbo Carrera is bad-assery on the hoof; modifying a Corolla so you can put the thing sideways at walking pace with no particular place to go is synchronized swimming on asphalt, without the women and the difficulty. Oh, look, you’re drifting. How impressive. Now get out of the God-damned way so I can win this race.

Luckily for just about everyone in the civilized world, drifting is a lifestyle more honored in the breach than the observance. Possibly as many as twenty FR-Ses will be dressed up in Affliction-style fake-tattoo vinyl and listlessly stroked around Cal Speedway or some Japanese backroad somewhere. The rest of them will be driven by people for whom “drifting” means nothing more than “tail-happy behavior”.

The man from CAR says the Toyobaru isn’t tail-happy. This should surprise precisely no one. Since the disappearance of the swing axle from even the most stubborn German manufacturers’ products, no car sold in the United States has had handling characteristics which include steady-state oversteer, “snap oversteer”, “surprise oversteer”, or any other thing of the sort. If you are a consummate dumb-ass who has no idea how to operate a vehicle correctly, your million-monkey-like banging on the pedals may occasionally produce the Shakespeare of a mild yaw. If it’s snowing outside, this may even kill you, in which case I hope you don’t mind if I stop by the accident scene and steal the $189 Porsche-branded valve caps from your Panamera Ultimate Turbo 4 GTS Collector’s Edition Sonderwunsch and put them on my 1984-vintage normally-aspirated 944 so they can live with dignity in the cathedral of my garage. But when you have your face-to-face with St. Peter, Karl Marx, or whomever, don’t blame your demise on “oversteer”. Steve McQueen will laugh at you, and rightfully so.

Is it possible to make production cars go sideways, deliberately? Of course. It takes effort. You are trading momentum along one axis for movement on another. You can pull the e-brake, trail it in with your left foot, wig-wag the wheel in time with the oscillation moment of the suspension. The way most people do it, however, is to get the car in a corner, using something like 70% of the available tire grip, and stomp on the accelerator. This reliably produces “oversteer” in Corvettes, Mustangs, AMG Benzes, and lightly-laded F-150s. The only problem is that you aren’t inducing “oversteer”. Real oversteer happens when the car is at its absolute limit of traction and the rear end has a natural tendency to rotate in towards the corner. That isn’t what you are doing. You are simply spinning the back wheels, depriving them of grip, and scaring your passenger.

Naturally, the above activity is highly amusing, which is why people do it. The FR-S can do it. Chris Harris recently did a whole video showing him pulling that trick. The problem is that, due to the car’s relatively modest power, you apparently need to use 99% of the car’s traction before it works, not 70%. Chris Harris can get to that 99%. He’s a licensed, experienced racer with a free pass to shitcan someone else’s $25,000 car sans consequences. The man on the street is likely to find himself in someone’s lawn if he tries the same thing, and the consequences will be greater than a half-scolding from a PR rep terrified of having his product ripped in a major publication.

“Ironically,”, Barry notes, “it actually takes a whole heap of skill and years of experience to unlock the potential of a car that we’ve been told is perfect for rear-drive novices.” I’m not sure I see the irony in it. Novices, by definition, are given novice-level equipment. This is a slow car with big tires on it, just like a modern MX-5. If you start with this car and graduate to a new Z06, no matter whether we are talking about trackday use, street use, or actual drifting competition, you will have a better result than you would have going from the Chevrolet to the Toyota.

No matter what happens to drivers of the FT-86, it will happen at a lower speed than it would in a Corvette or Mustang GT. That is why it is a novice car. The handling limits of the vehicle will appear at a lower speed, the accelerator will get you into less trouble, and the brakes will work approximately as well as they would on a high-performance vehicle. No, it won’t be easy to drift, but so what? No factory-spec car is easy to drift correctly, and you might as well start in something that hits the wall at eighty miles per hour, not a hundred and twenty.

Most importantly, the little coupe is properly balanced and it has “proper” rear-wheel drive. If you learn to drive it well, you will eventually be qualified to drive something similar that operates at a higher speed, like an E92 M3. You won’t learn those correct reflexes and responses in a Civic Si or Volkswagen GTI. Those only “qualify” you to drive more powerful FWD cars, like… um… a Lucerne Super or something like that. Congratulations. You’re Lucerne Super Qualified. Now move over, you are holding my Town Car up on this off-ramp

My enthusiasm for the FT-86 hasn’t been diminished a whit by any of the pricing issues, the specification concerns, or the vehicle’s supposed non-drift-ability. As long as it’s cheap to operate and honest to drive, I will recommend it every chance I get. Even if I don’t get to go to the fancy press intro, even if I don’t get free shoes or commemorative USB drives, even if I have to find a TTAC reader who is willing to let me drive the thing before we can provide a proper review. We’ve waited a long time for a car like this. My companion in crime, the infamous Vodka McBigbra, invented the word “premorse” for situations like that. Pre-remorse. Premorse. I’m not going to premorse about the FRSZ86whatever, and neither should you. Let’s drive.

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79 Comments on “FT-86: Will It Blend, I Mean, Doooorift?...”


  • avatar
    Cleatus

    I only made it through 2 paragraphs of this article. Seemed like the author was trying a little too hard. Ease up on the dumpmestic fanboyism, not everyone thinks ‘merican cars rule.

  • avatar

    thanks for setting the record straight for all of us wannabe
    noob greenhorn nonothings. I watched a few vids of drifting, and
    it is stupid. they are going nowhere (not) fast. the damage to the cars must be extreme. You have undoubtedly saved buyers of these cars many thousands in dollars and probably have saved some lives.

    Great writing, spot on. Almost as good as your article “the nervous professor” (I drive an old g20).

    Just got done putting some kyb struts on the rear. I had ordered mounts and boots too. The mounts did not go on the struts. I put the struts on anyway, and I still have clunking and clanking. No satisfaction from KYB. Beware this outfit, I think they are getting their mounts from China.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I have been drifting for almost 8 years now.
    Your article is the typical pompous “I’m a serious racecar driver” stance on drifting. It’s obvious your first-hand knowledge of (I won’t go as far as call it a motorsport) our hobby is based solely on Fast and the Furious, and other aspects of the subculture that we laugh at, and mock.

    It’s like saying a burnout sucks and surfing is for imbeciles. It’s just a fun thing to do. The problem comes when people take it too seriously, trying to turn it into a sport.

    You might be surprised to learn that a good drift car is the same kind of car you are looking for. That is, well balanced, good traction, and predictable handling.

    • 0 avatar
      MR2turbo4evr

      No, the problem isn’t people trying to turn drifting into a sport, it’s random idiots practicing to drift on the street, and therefore endangering other people and driving up insurance rates since many of them end up crashing their cars.
      I don’t have a problem with people drifting their cars on a track (as long as I’m not the poor sap who ends up buying the car from them afterwards).

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I could honestly care less about your desire to drift but if we’re going to play value judgments I could probably find an easier path to proving almost every form of racing including drag is a sport before drifting. It is going against the very design of the vehicle not to mention the idea that effectively you’re straining an axle that was never meant to be strained so catastrophic failure is inevitable. Even LeMons cars are not inevitably going to shatter something just by racing, they will do it, but it isn’t a fundamental flaw in the design of the race it’s an issue of age and quality of the racers.

      That being said, more power to those that do it but I wouldn’t get your knickers in a bunch over what people think if you’re serious about your hobby. I could care less about what the SCCA kids thought when I was street racing and now that I am getting older and think that the SCCA had it right all along I still don’t get flustered at the street racers. As long as you aren’t killing any one or seriously endangering by standards it’s all good.

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        Drifting doesn’t stress a car in any way that racing doesn’t. The cornering stresses are actually a bit lower.

        You see lots of broken parts because hitting curbs and retaining walls has sort of become part of the culture… but it’s not integral to the activity.

    • 0 avatar
      daveainchina

      says your prototypical insider from his favorite activity. Whether you are talking about the variations on acid metal or acid rock to synth pop and goth. Or one type of modern art from another, etc etc ad nauseum

      Frankly you care too much about this to judge it with anything other than your opinion. Drifting is fine for people who like it, I don’t, I also don’t give a rats @ss about NASCAR either. Does that mean I’m not equipped to judge it? Probably not but then you prefer making these assumptions about someone’s qualifications.

      I’m happy you love the activity, Kudo’s to those who do, but ranting because someone doesn’t share your particular passion is comical for the rest of us.

      And I certainly enjoy comedy, so please keep up the comedy act but just remember the louder you protest, the more hilarious your antics will become to the rest of us.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I’ve got the ’89 civic hatch that will rotate the rear wheels pretty easily (have to be wary of it). It makes it pretty quick around HPT and I’ll be at Gateway this weekend with it. I have a preorder down on a BRZ so will be getting one sometime this year – but I didn’t buy it to impress the teenage girls (that’s creepy at my age) on the street, I bought it as a car I need to use as a daily driver and occasional DE / track car. Can’t wait.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    This is the car we’ve been waiting for all our lives, even if we didn’t know that before it was announced!

    Seriously people, calm down.

  • avatar

    I accidentially drifted a jeep a couple of times, by gawking at the scenery, hitting washboard, and the like. It always ended in severe oscillations that were difficult to dampen. Each time I thought I was going to die. Dunno how people manage to amuse themselves by doing that ouside of a racetrack. I like the videos of that guy who drifts Fiesta though (I think Jack meant him when he mentioned free shoes).

    • 0 avatar
      NateR

      I accidentally drifted my ’75 Ford truck one time (new driver + fresh snow), and ended up in someone’s front yard, just like Jack said (seriously, true story).

      It was pure luck that the road and sidewalk were both empty at the time. I dug a hell of a trench in some stranger’s lawn with my driver’s side rear tire (I was sliding backwards at approx. 25 MPH when I hit the curb), but other than that, no damage was done.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      I “drifted” my JEEP on some black ice this past winter. Between the fear of rolling over and/or hitting another car it was not very fun. Luckily I drove away with just a chipped rim and a little more respect for the cold whether sans snow.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Drifting is the modern day equivalent of circa-late1980s break dancing, and shall be retrospectively collectively adjudged as such with the same snark 10 or 20 years forthwith.

    You can get the same joie de vivre by driving your hooptie down a vaseline lathered alley.

    But I want to know what the automotive equivalent of ‘popping’ would be…

  • avatar
    mitchw

    A decade of watching Clarkson and company having their drifting faked for them by professionals isn’t going to be cured by one article, JB. Even my dingbat nephew(age 5 years 11months, as he sees it) keeps saying, ‘turn right to go left.’

    • 0 avatar
      highlandmiata

      “turn right to go left” is a quote from the Disney movie “Cars”. It comes from the scene where they are dirt track oval racing, not ‘drifting.’

      As is said other comments, something like drifting has been around since long before Initial-D. I think it is fun enough to watch videos of the guys doing it on the mountain roads, but it should not be a spectator sport or done in an area where anyone other than the driver and car can be hurt.

      I don’t really care what others want to do with their cars as long as they are not endangering innocent bystanders who are not assuming the risk of being there to spectate. People expressing themselves by drifting is no less pointless than a lot of other things you can do with cars, such as rock-crawling or drag-racing, or really any enthusiast activity.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    I drift a lot, many times in competitive races that somebody paid thousands of dollars to enter. It usually happens when the wind dies and the current is the only thing that is moving the really expensive sailing yacht some rich guy needed crew for. I happen to like it. A lot. I crack open a beer and relax.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Good article Baruth. It was simultaneously the funniest and most thought provoking thing you’ve written in a while.

    “lightly-laded F-150s” don’t forget 70s to mid 80s era RWD American sedans. I learned how to control oversteer on those vehicles. No I wasn’t trying to drift, just lean the dynamics of RWD.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    anyone who thinks cars havent been driftable in the last 10 years hasnt seen the multitude of insane Dubai Toyota Camry videos.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    First, I don’t think they are called “FT-86″s anymore. “FT” stands for “Future Toyota”, and it ain’t that ‘future-y’ as of now.

    Also, I thought that FRS/BRZ came with Michelin Primacy tires specifically because they offer relatively low levels of grip. They are ‘Green X’ low-rolling resistance tires found on Japanese Priuses afterall.

    Dan Neil, on the WSJ, commented that the BRZ is “under-tired”

    Quote Dan Neil: “If this car were built by, say, BMW, the designers would have packed the fender wells with no-profile tires and splendid 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels. Such footwear looks great and commands serious cornering grip. The trouble is, it raises the limits of adhesion so preposterously high that it is almost impossible—or at least highly ill-advised—to break traction on the street.

    The BRZ is conspicuously under-tired, with 17-inch Michelin 215/45s front and rear—and thus the dead cat. You can goose the throttle around a corner and the rear tires will happily chirp as the car’s rear end steps out entertainingly, at least until the stability control intervenes”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304724404577293812942708538.html

    Either way, having a car that is prone to oversteer is a lawsuit ready to happen. I’m guessing the stability control is designed exactly NOT to ‘drift’. I could just imagine under skilled FRS/BRZ owners crashing every time it would snow or rain.

    • 0 avatar

      As a generic term for a car that’s available in two flavors, it takes fewer keystrokes to type FT-86 than FR-S/BRS/GT-86.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The car comes with Primacy HP tires witch may not be Michelin’s highest performance Pilot Super Sports, but they are a pretty good performance street tire. They aren’t exactly no-grip extra long life fuel saver tires. 215 is plenty wide. I don’t know why every car has to have extreme performance 255/20R19 tires that are super-wide and no no sidewall to absorb any road imperfection.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Dan Neil is very good at promoting Dan Neil but I don’t think he knows the first thing about vehicular handling.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Dan Neil is a wordsmith. Great at one-liners. He knows how to write entertaining & provocative reviews but sometimes seems clueless as to the intended audience of the car he’s reviewing. I’m not any kind of driver, and I have a feeling that he isn’t either.

  • avatar
    John R

    One thing I’m surprised about in the lead up to this is the apparent lack of FT-86s with Fujiwara Tofu livery. You’d think Toyota or some tuning house would have milked the hell out of it.

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    “[S]ynchronized swimming on asphalt”? I’ve always called it the figure skating of motor sport, but close enough.

  • avatar
    cjtotalbro

    Well I guess when a guy who trailers a spare set of wheels/tires with his PORSCHE BOXTER(!!!) to an Auto-X event tells you what real motorsports, and real cars are, I guess a fella would be a fool not to listen!

    Clearly, this old dude with a 12 year old’s hair cut gets what is awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Sorry, CJ, I’m not ashamed of participating in SCCA National Solo, even if Monster Energy Drinks aren’t sponsoring the event.

      • 0 avatar
        cjtotalbro

        Isn’t it sort of hard to talk crap about drifting when you drive the worst porsche ever between cones at like 30mph in a parking lot? Even worse, you do it while looking like the offspring of Alan Rickman in Die Hard and Alan Rickman in Harry Potter.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Isn’t it sort of hard to talk crap about drifting when you drive the worst porsche ever between cones at like 30mph in a parking lot?

        No, that’s the best part. Even if all I ever did was autocross, that’s still an actual competition, with a clock and EVERYTHANG.

        Even worse, you do it while looking like the offspring of Alan Rickman in Die Hard and Alan Rickman in Harry Potter.

        Even better, you mean.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I wouldn’t take Car Magazine as gospel in matters like this. They’re not exactly impartial towards non-European cars and they’ve always had something of a bias against Japanese cars, though they’re not as blatant as they used to be (including frequent use of the term “Jap”). Car almost always manages to find some flaws even in the best Japanese cars that ranks them lower than equivalent European machinery. The last Car author to write positively without condition about Japanese cars was the late LJK Setright, who loved Hondas.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      I checked the CAR story and couldn’t find any bias, just the notion which is probably true that new pocket-rocket is not powerful enough for easy drifting, at least not for most of people. Jack here mentioned that Harris had difficulties when trying to drift, too. I think Brits are OK with that car.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        Ben Barry calls the MX-5 “too soft and rolly to be good to drive”. Really? I can’t find any other tests that claim the MX-5 isn’t a good drive even when it might not be quite as sharp as the 1989 original.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I remember them dismissing the merits of the last Honda Prelude because its doors were too thick. Reading one of CAR’s reviews of the Prelude, that seemed to be its only characteristic. They tried to turn it into a joke.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    “Since the disappearance of the swing axle from even the most stubborn German manufacturers’ products, no car sold in the United States has had handling characteristics which include steady-state oversteer, “snap oversteer”, “surprise oversteer”, or any other thing of the sort.”

    Have you driven an early second-generation Toyota MR2 Turbo? Its spin-happy behavior hurt sales once word got out, forcing Toyota to put in suspension fixes and wider tires for 1992. That didn’t help the sales and the MR2 was gone from the US a few years later.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The early AP1 Honda S2000s certainly were known to have oversteering tendencies that caught a large number of drivers out. Honda changed the spring rates every other year trying to find a balance that the development engineers enjoyed without causing too many unskilled buyers to wreck.

      http://www.mccanless.net/Characterization_of_Honda_S2000_OE_Springs_rev1.pdf

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Neither of these cars had steady-state oversteer. Their problem was they weren’t sufficiently idiot-proof. I’ve driven both at speed, on a racetrack.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Your earlier statement went a bit further than that. I don’t know about the MR2, other than that I believe it is very sensitive to tire selection, but I have enough AP1 time to know that it is prone to snap oversteer. I’m old enough that I drove a number of 911s that had equal sized tires at all corners back when they were just used cars and I had no sense of mortality, so I’m aware that the S2000 spins at a higher threshold than a Corvair or a Spitfire. Still, you can get the back of an AP1 S2000 to step out trail braking into a corner and powering out of a corner. You don’t even need to push the front and then wait to lose the back when you transfer weight forward and the front bites.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I can get the back end of my Town Car to do the same thing. I don’t go on the internet and claim it has snap oversteer.

        Come to think of it, my 1980 Marquis Brougham had about as much tendency to oversteer in certain bumbling combinations of throttle, brake, and steering as an AP1 S2000.

        If I could, I would have you drive my Neon NASA racer so you understand how an “oversteering” car behaves. You don’t need to force it, you don’t need to use throttle on the exit. You enter the corner at the limit of traction and the car rotates naturally.

        Corvairs and Beetles had “snap oversteer” because the swing axles would literally pull the tire into extreme positive camber during cornering. No modern car does that.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        Jack, it’s the way you worded your statement that prompted our comments. Read it again, please…

        “Since the disappearance of the swing axle from even the most stubborn German manufacturers’ products, no car sold in the United States has had handling characteristics which include steady-state oversteer, “snap oversteer”, “surprise oversteer”, or any other thing of the sort.”

        The use of the word “or” implies that any one condition you listed applies to a car sold in the US, not all of them. “Snap oversteer” and “surprise oversteer” appear to apply to the S2000 and MR2, but there’s nothing in your sentence that indicates “steady-state oversteer” has to apply as well.

      • 0 avatar
        DannyZRC

        Brake or Throttle induced oversteer != oversteer

        oversteer means the car turns more than you intended when you turn the steering wheel.

        power oversteer means the car turns more than you intended when you turn the steering wheel AND apply power

        brake induced oversteer means the car turns more than you intended when you turn the steering wheel AND apply brakes.

        snap oversteer means this happens suddenly, snap power oversteer means it happens suddenly AND you are applying power, etc.

        real oversteer is real scary. no thanks.

        power oversteer is such an underlying part of the enthusiast press vernacular that they’ve dropped the power part, and they call it just plain old oversteer, and it’s important not to forget the silent ‘power’ at the beginning.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Tony,

        I will stand by my statement. The AP1 doesn’t have snap oversteer. The MR2 didn’t have snap oversteer. They may have been insufficiently resistant to driver error, I will grant that, but you can watch a whole SCCA National Solo event from start to finish and not see a single one of the many AP1s and MR2s in attendance spin. And that’s when guys are TRYING to air it out.

      • 0 avatar
        RB

        1st gen RX-7’s had a slight oversteer, and before you can loop a car in an autocross there’s a good chance that it will scrub off the extra speed.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Back in 1984, my BIL tried to teach me how to handle a car when it begins to slide in snow. At the time, I had a bone stock basic 74 Chevy Nova 4 door, we could not get it to do anything of the sort. We finally gave up as the snow started to turn to ice as the sun went down and the day turned to night.

    Then a a day or so later, I drove home from the local community college and hit a shady, icy patch with snow on the ground that I forgot stays in the shade for a good while late that morning and the car lost control and veered onto oncoming traffic, I got it under control, but not before it see, sawed back and forth a time or two as I also got the car slowed down enough to regain traction but never had an accident or anything thankfully.

    Advance forward 2 years, a slightly fancier 78 Nova coupe, major snow storm and I NEVER had it break loose AT ALL in that snow though I DID have trouble getting out of an apartment complex driveway once as it got to late afternoon if I recall right.

    Then in 2006, I unintentionally managed to get the back end of my 1992 Ford Ranger with roughly 190K+ miles on it to hop out by an inch or so when I turned right onto another street at a slightly higher rate of speed than intended in my excitement to go haul home a chest Mom had bought at an antique mall. The front hung on around that corner tenaciously well, but the rear did hop out slightly and I just kept on going down the new road like nothing had happened.

    That old truck handled corners MUCH better than it ever had a right to – for a truck that is.

  • avatar
    arbnpx

    I feel like Jack’s specifically calling me out, the guy who put in a reserve for a Scion FR-S in May 2011, once the first spy photos of the Nurburgring mule flew out. So, here goes…

    Jack’s diatribe reads like something from someone who loves air-cooled Porsche 911s and American muscle cars, and thinks the reader he’s criticizing here is some Generation Y loser who thinks the FR-S is some “press X to dorifto” toy.

    In reality, I’m someone who grew up with Toyotas, including the TE71 liftback, and a neighbor with the AE86 Corolla SR5. I loved that AE86, before I even knew what Initial D was, or what drifting was, or that the car’s chassis/body code was AE86, or even that it was rear-wheel-drive. I just knew that it was a really awesome Corolla, in a time where the E90 Corollas were a bit less awesome than the AE86. Later on, I got a used E110 Corolla as a car, followed by a new 1st-generation Scion tC. The tC was very close to the body style of the TE71 liftback, though with front-wheel-drive, and a bit more power and torque to go along with the post-airbag weight gain. I wasn’t even into motorsports back then, but I did get into the modification scene, to the point where it has bolstered seats, coilovers and gauges (not entirely performance-optimal, but very fun). I started doing autocross, which gave me a chance to learn about understeer, finding the line, throttle and brake timing, and so on. I’m still a bit of a novice, but the first time I successfully pulled off a Scandinavian Flick, I had a huge grin on my face.

    So now, the next step: rear-wheel-drive. I’m perfectly happy with what the FT-86 project is. Something that is accessible, lighter (not “light”, but definitely lighter than most current RWD cars), and requires finesse and patience to learn. But most of all, it seems to be very stable when sliding around, instead of abruptly snapping out of oversteer like more powerful cars. I’ve driven the FR-S far far less than Chris Harris or Ben Barry; in fact, I’ve only “driven” the Gran Turismo 5 representations of the FT-86 concept and the Toyota 86. I know full well that GT5 isn’t anywhere near real driving, but when sliding around in “Comfort” tires in different RWD cars, the FT-86 or 86 seem to be more “stable” and less prone to “snap out”. And yes, 2nd gear seems to be the only gear to spin the tires in, but that’s the point of this car, as illustrated by Tsuchiya in the AE86 with AE111 4A-GE, or by Chris Harris on Jarama.

    I’m planning on holding on to the stock wheels with Michelin Primacy tires, and getting a second set of wheels shod with more grippy tires (hopefully Jack has some recommendations; I’m not quite sure if I want to go full-on Direzza Z1 Star Spec, or go for something UHP all-season so I’m not trapped with 4 hockey pucks in sub-45-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures).

    But most of all, I’m only planning on losing traction on closed courses. I like watching drifting, but I also want to make sure this car lasts for quite a while. I value drifting over “ghost-ride the whip” and street racing (I personally hate street racing; it’s half of why American cops hate all Japanese cars that look the slightest bit fun). On public roads, I’ll be taking it easy, and heading to autocross or drift events with a wide open parking lot with a coned course.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Yup, I think you are right, he was calling you out. Bolstered seats and gauges?? On your Tc? “Driving” the FT86 in GT5? Dude, c’mon. You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders, dont make it so easy on Jack. :)

      BTW, the TE71 was awesome, not like the Tc… too bad you didnt keep it, what a great car to have now.

      • 0 avatar
        arbnpx

        The TE71 was my mom’s car back in the 80’s; unfortunately was starting to rust out and get old and cranky by ’88. I didn’t get my license until ’98, and didn’t have money for a car until ’04. And in ’04, unless you had money for an MR2 or an SC430, if you wanted a Toyota coupe, it was going to be FWD.

        The Recaro Sport seats just look right in the tC. They’re not over the top like a set of 1-piece buckets, but they’re far more supportive than the stock seats. Not the most comfortable seats for hours-long drives, but otherwise very nice, and I still get “wow, nice seats” comments (I especially loved, “Hey, my Evo VIII has those seats!”).

        The gauges are functional, not way over the top. Oil temp is nice for knowing when the engine’s warm enough to not feel guilty about revving into the power band. The intake pressure gauge doubles as a fuel economy gauge, and it’s fun watching out of the corner of your eye for it twitching to 0 when accelerating. And the OBDII reader is nice for knowing when the coolant is over 100 F, so you can turn on the heater and get hot air!

  • avatar

    http://www.carsindepth.com/images/tannerfoust.jpg

    “That’s it, Jack, we’re racing!
    Tanner Foust”

  • avatar
    jco

    real drift, where it comes from, is akin to American street racing in its origins. informal gatherings of people going out to empty mountain roads in the middle of the night and sliding around for the pure enjoyment of it and nothing else. Formula D is horrifying and stupid. another place to hawk Monster energy drinks. I think that even though you will be seeing plenty of these with giant wings sliding around in clouds of smoke, I believe this car’s spirit is one that links back to the origin of drift.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      Taking this into account, Jack’s absolutely right. If the average person thinks “drifting” is the energy-drink dog-and-pony show that “professional” drifting has become; and they expect this car to be anything like those 500+hp silhouette cars, they’re in for sore disappointment. Even in the hands of a hotshoe this car will not lay down a 500-foot plume of tire smoke with a 45-degree slip angle. It doesn’t have nearly enough mechanical grip or power, and the torsen LSD will either be fighting for its life to regain traction or just give up and spin the inside tire.

      Drifting this car will be like drifting a stock 240SX or Miata, which is something I’ve done. It will be substantially more difficult to wag the tail with power like you can in a Mustang or pickup truck. However, it will be substantially easier to do all the other stuff – chop the throttle, a flick of the steering to unsettle the suspension – WITHOUT killing yourself, because cars like this are designed to be ultra-forgiving and NOT steady-state oversteer. You can ham-fist a 240SX all you want, and it’ll just step out, then step back in. You can do things that are ridiculously stupid like lift or even brake into turn 4 at Summit Point.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Nobody should brake going into 4 on summit point. Or lift going into 9 for that matter. My instructor freaked when i lifted on 9 to get some rotation because the car was plowing a bit.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I don’t agree that you could only do a throttle induced oversteer with a high powered car. I got the tail out many times with a 1.6 Miata. Granted, it is easier to do on the tight turns.

  • avatar

    Just so we’re clear, which of the following activities are not ok?

    Lighting up the rearend pulling away from a stop just for shits and giggles

    Doing the above while turning

    Doing the above all over in the snow

    Doing an over-the-top big burnout in front of a crowd

    Doing a big burnout in front of a crowd while turning

    Driving badly on a track day

    Drag racing

    Drag racing a slow car

    “Racing” a minivan with 120 other idiots in a series where the officials readily admit to being bribeable and capricious

    Driving a 4×4 very slowly over some obstacle, solely for the purpose of doing so

    …because they all strike me as pretty silly and pointless, but also very fun.

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      Agreed on all counts. Of course, being a RWD Volvo owner, I’m really only qualified to speak about not-overly-skilled tail-out action (what some would call ‘drifting’) when snow or gravel is involved. I’ll freely admit that I don’t have the reflexes, experience or talent to win any real races, but I can easily control a car at the limit of traction when traction is impaired by wet snow and I’m only doing the speed limit (give or take), and I generally have a great time doing it.

      Ain’t no drifter, though, that’s for sure.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    Drifting on purpose is way stupid (cough) but it sure looks fun and expert in the Ken Block Rally Team USA video.

    I think of Erich Hartmann 50 feet off the tail of a P-51. Well, not, but maybe.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    I, for one, would like to be Lucerne Super Qualified.

  • avatar

    WE have driven the car. Some six months ago, we wrote at http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/finally-ttac-gets-its-hands-on-the-ft86-and-its-chief-engineer/ :

    “The press corps had a chance to drive the car. That opportunity was immediately turned into hoonery by a rough and tumble contingent from Australia. One of them drove the car with so much enthusiasm that it spun out , did a few twirls and had a near-miss with an Australian cohort.”

    It sure drifts. It can do a rendiition of Swan Lake if you press the pedals the right way. I had seen it with my own eyes on the short course in Fuji. Being not a drifter, I wrote:

    “I drove the same 86 the Aussie hoons pirouetted through a sharp turn. All I did was make the tires chirp. At a test drive, I like to return the car as I found it. It drove very nicely. It does not press you into the bucket seat with jet fighter g-forces.”

    Come to think of it, it did not take much to make the tires chirp. TTAC will do a full fledged test of the hachi roku in the first week of May. Stay tuned.

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    In the abstract, drifting seems like an interesting skill, but what’s the point? What does it accomplish? It’s a waste of money and equipment. (Can’t think of a great analogy at the moment.)

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    I don’t understand why drifting gets people so hot and bothered.

    Ever watch a NASCAR race from the 50’s? Those guys spend most of the race getting sideways. Sure, they aren’t getting graded on how much sand they could kick up, but drifting they were. Pixar’s CARS illustrated that point better than any Fast & Furious movie.

    And the notion that the FT-86 doesn’t have enough power seems outlandish to me. Granted I have not driven the car, but the AE-86 Corolla AE86 from the mid 80’s needed less than 90 horsepower to get sideways. A buddy of mine owned one, and on the dyno, with modifications, it put down 78 horsepower. 78 horsepower! But that thing got sideways with ease.

    Drifting is what it is. I find it entertaining to watch from time to time, but like most motorsports, unless I am there in the flesh I lose interest pretty quickly. The FT-86 seems like a cool car, though at that price, I’d much rather have a V6 Mustang with the performance package, or maybe a Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

    I think after driving it, a lot of people will feel the same way.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    CAR magazine editorializing about Japanese cars is not much different than Repubs editorializing on Dems. Too wit:

    “Mazda MX-5 soft-top (which is too soft and rolly to be good to drive)..”

    Uh, right. Sure. Whatever you say.

  • avatar
    patman

    My old ’91 Dodge Daytona drifted beautifully on dirt – lift the throttle and the rear end would start to slowly come around, counter steer and apply a little throttle and you could hold it all day. If it were RWD you’d call it lift-oversteer but since it was FWD I guess you’d call it lift-not-understeer :)

    Of course this was at, like, 20 miles an hour so it was hard to get in too much trouble.

    Tires are too good and even the worst cars still have competent suspensions so you can’t get sideways (or even push a car into understeer) on the street at reasonable speeds anymore. On a racetrack it may be a different story but on real world streets our ’07 Impala, whose handling has been derided in plenty of other article’s comments, will go plenty faster around a tight windy road then is prudently safe or even a fair bit beyond prudent when there is oncoming traffic, ditches and deer to contend with.

  • avatar
    brokeguy

    Hey Jack, is the title a Tribe Called Quest reference? Is Q-Tip watching?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Q-Tip owes me forty bucks. I went to see a Tribe gig in 1991 and they played 35 minutes before calling it quits.

      • 0 avatar
        brokeguy

        The Tribe owes the record label another album, they may get that (really big MAY) before you get your 40.. Back on topic, personally I don’t understand the reason for all the drama. The original AE86 wasn’t built to drift, it was just a “sporty” version of a cheap and cheerful car. Times are different now, but not so different that a major OEM would build a “drift” car for the masses. But, there is money to be made with an inexpensive RWD platform (see Mustang, Genesis coupe, 4th and 5th gen Camaro et al) so what if it don’t jump sideways with a flick of the wheel, less litigation to deal with for Toyobaru. The drift kids will get their copies to play with soon and everybody will be all smiles in the end.

  • avatar
    tmkreutzer

    Dream all you want about knocking off Japanese housewives. Tofu doesn’t get them riled up – even hard tofu is soft, limp and pasty.

    If what I have seen on the internet is true, you need to work the Takoyaki truck – it’s all about the tentacles.

  • avatar
    jco

    I wasn’t even calling Jack out on anything. more the ridiculousness of how drift has been turned into something so inflated and commercialized. i’m not being nostalgic for the old days or romanticizing, but drift just isn’t a sport.

    and the way you describe it is exactly why. an NA car with comparatively low HP will not be capable of steady-state oversteer.

    having owned an AP1 S2000 in the past, there’s a satisfaction in an exceptionally well-balanced car that’s right on the edge. with limits you can approach and occasionally exceed on the street. and that’s what I believe the point of this car is. As was the AE86. small, light, rwd.

  • avatar
    ComfortablyNumb

    “The only problem is that you aren’t inducing “oversteer”…You are simply spinning the back wheels, depriving them of grip”

    Technically, you are. Oversteer simply means your rear slip angle exceeds your front slip angle, regardless of how you achieve that. Spinning the back wheels reduces lateral grip and so your rear slip angle increases.

    What you should say is that these oversteer conditions are completely the driver’s fault, not the car’s. “Snap oversteer” and “suprise oversteer” are bullshit terms that describe what happens when you don’t know how to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      “What you should say is that these oversteer conditions are completely the driver’s fault, not the car’s. “Snap oversteer” and “suprise oversteer” are bullshit terms that describe what happens when you don’t know how to drive”

      So late to this article because well, I dont care about the toyobarus all that much. Anyways Numb, I have a fox-body rear suspension that disagrees with you. It had suspesnion elements designed to bind. and “snap oversteer” is a good description of its at the limit behavior.

  • avatar
    SevilleSlantback

    Man, the kid in the picture looks like an absolute twerp. It’s funny to see how we Americans always want to be like and look like the Japanese from fifteen years ago, but the Japanese in their popular culture portray their anime stars as looking like white American kids from the same point in time!!!


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