By on January 5, 2018

2017 Toyota 86 front quarter

2017 Toyota 86

2.0-liter horizontally-opposed four, DOHC (200 hp @ 7,000 rpm; 151 lb-ft @ 6,400 rpm)

Six-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive

24 city / 32 highway / 27 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

9.9 city, 7.3 highway (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

29.4 (MPG, observed)

Base Price: $27,840 (U.S) / $32,595 (Canada)

As Tested: $27,840 (U.S) / $32,595 (Canada)

Prices include $865 freight charge in U.S. and $1,815 delivery, destination and A/C tax in Canada, and because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

The litmus test for defining a “proper” sports car has been a moving target ever since the first G.I. brought a rickety MG stateside, but the question has been argument fodder in bars and internet forums for nearly as long.

Some argued that the radical 1962 MGB wasn’t a sports car, due to its unibody construction and lack of folding windscreen. Others argued that the revolutionary 1963 Corvette wasn’t a sports car, as the coupe profile didn’t fit the roadster norm that had thus far defined Chevrolet’s fantastic plastic essence. Last year, McLaren sought to define a sports car with four characteristics which, by the miracles of marketing, eliminate basically every other car ever built, including some of its own.

One feature is particularly contentious: the manual transmission. For decades, “true” sports car enthusiasts eschewed anything with two pedals, as the act of manually selecting gears was surely essential to spirited driving. Yet a virtual stroll through the websites of most sports car makers shows a dearth of clutch pedals.

Surely the Toyota 86 would be an exception. It’s a real sports car, designed from a clean sheet with rear-wheel drive and compact packaging for supreme tossability. There’s no way it could be anything less than awful when burdened with an automatic transmission. Right?

2017 Toyota 86 frontFair warning – the unusual nature of my week with Toyota’s coupe may reflect in my assessment. I logged a bunch of highway miles in the 86 automatic, trekking from Detroit to Chicago, then across Indiana and home to Ohio. Sitting in heavy traffic on US 30 near Chicago Heights let me reflect on the absolute superiority of the electronically controlled, torque converter-equipped automatic transmission for the task of urban commuting. My left leg thanked me repeatedly for not subjecting it to hundreds of clutch engagements.

2017 Toyota 86 rear quarter

Forgetting for a moment the transmission, the 86 is indeed fun to drive when you want it to be. The slightly stiff suspension, while a bit jarring on pockmarked interstates, responds beautifully when hustling into corners. Much has been made of the hard compound tires (often called Prius tires, since they are typically the same Michelin Primacy HP units fitted to the hybrid), but they are consistent when driven hard, allowing the tail to slide a bit when asked. It’s a playful sports coupe, certainly.

2017 Toyota 86 gauges

It’s no supercar, of course. While the nominal back seat (more on this later) suggests a significant difference from the reigning lightweight budget sports car from Mazda (and Fiat), ultimately the Toyota 86 is quite similar in mission to the Miata/124 Spider roadster twins. While 200 horsepower means the 86 isn’t dreadfully slow (I’d love to have 200 hp flowing to the drive wheels of my own Miata, for example), neither is it going to challenge many off the line. By most reports, a four-cylinder Camry is quicker, while the V6 Camry will absolutely smoke this sports coupe on the strip.

2017 Toyota 86 center stack

The Subaru-developed flat-four is a gem of an engine. 200 hp out of two naturally-aspirated liters is still an accomplishment, as the engine winds to the 7,000 rpm redline with a delightful boxer warble. A 12.5-to-1 compression ratio means premium fuel is required, though I averaged 29.4 mpg over a week of highway-biased driving. Not bad at all.

It looks the part of a sports car, however. Looking at the profile, I’ll admit to forgetting that the 86 isn’t a hatchback, but rather a fastback coupe with a very short trunklid. Minimizing the rear opening gives a measurable improvement in overall chassis stiffness – important on any performance car – but the additional practicality of a hatchback can be useful to an owner using this as their only car. The trunk is roomy enough for a couple of carry-on bags or a weeks’ worth of groceries – but those looking to haul bulky stuff (like track-day tires) will need to seek alternative arrangements.2017 Toyota 86 trunk

I’ll stop at calling the 86 beautiful, but it’s still a striking car. The black plastic details miming brake ducts below the headlamps are overwrought, but I dig the rise of the front fender line – from certain angles, it looks as if the fenders bulge higher than the hood. It’s a detail that is somewhat reminiscent of the 1970 AMC Javelin, one of my favorites from the muscle/pony-car era.

2017 Toyota 86 profile

When you open the door, however, you see that the 86 has seen few changes since its introduction as the Scion FR-S five years ago. It’s not all bad, just a bit dated in spots. The double-DIN sized infotainment display atop the center stack seems like a dodgy aftermarket bit – it’s slow to respond to finger presses, and the sound quality isn’t overwhelming. The tweed-like material on the center of the seats, while certainly long wearing, isn’t the most comforting surface. The suede-like material on the dash and the outer surfaces of the seats does feel nice, though I’ll admit I’d like to see it on the steering wheel, which feels rather plasticky.

2017 Toyota 86 interior

And, like a relic from another age, the 86 still requires the turn of a traditional key to make the boxer sing. Again, it’s not a bad thing – I’ve been spoiled by hopping in new cars all the time, leaving the key in my pocket, and pressing a button to go. It’s merely a change to which I had to adapt.

2017 Toyota 86 seats

Those rear seats are another throwback. I’ve mentioned before about my youth spent around the various generations of the Datsun/Nissan Z cars, and I’m reminded of the almost useless rear seats fitted to the “2+2” versions of those Zs. I’m viscerally opposed to the 2+2 version of a sports coupe, mostly due to how phenomenally ugly those extended versions were. The rear seats in the Toyota 86 aren’t quite as useless, but my 11-year-old daughter absolutely could not sit behind me while I was in the driver’s seat. When we used this as a family car with all four of us, our trips were mercifully brief.

2017 Toyota 86 dashboard

I’m sure, however, that anyone considering the Toyota 86 will either use it as a second or third car, or is otherwise not intending to use it for more than two people. Were I fresh out of college – and not saddled with mountains of debt from said college – the 86 might be an ideal first new car. It is – even with the automatic – a properly fun car to drive. It’s comfortable enough for a long drive, and without the left-leg strain from a clutch, it’s marvelous in traffic.

As I’ve reached the age where I’d be using it as a second or third car, however, I’m going to hold tight to my personal convictions about a sports car, and choose the manual.

2017 Toyota 86 rear quarter

[Images: © 2017 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

79 Comments on “2017 Toyota 86 Review – Two Pedals on a Sports Car? Really?...”


  • avatar
    djsyndrome

    I owned one of these for about 18 months before trading it in on a Prius (which amused the dealership staff to no end). Everything in the article is accurate – it’s a tossable car which is absolutely dreadful to live with and cheap-feeling inside. It looks like very little has changed between ’15 and ’17, other than the badge and lights. Bonus features: you are invisible to everyone driving a crossover and every idiot in a beat up WRX wants to drag race you at a red light.

    Regarding the transmission: before buying the manual, I test drove the automatic and found it fine but completely unengaging, and way too willing to shift up early (well before 6k, where the power kicks in). You can get around this using the manual changes with the lever, but at that point why not just save $1k and buy the stick?

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Real cars have three pedals. Sorry, but you’re not shifting if you’re using paddle “shifters” either. I’ll stop now before I add “get off my lawn!”.

  • avatar
    jimble

    I think you mean the 1971-74 Javelin. The first-generation (68-70) Javelin had much more restrained styling sans fender bulges. Both generations were great-looking cars, though.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    This was a car – when I first saw it in Scion form – that I wanted to love. But its hp deficiency knocks it off my want list. Not that I need a Mustang slayer for this kind of car but I would hate to be embarrassed by a Chrysler 200 or any other sedan with a decent V6.

    btw, C&D says the automatic (7.7s) is a full 1.5s slower 0-60 than the manual (6.2s). Woah.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “The Subaru-developed flat-four is a gem of an engine”

    I think that is the first time I have read anyone describe this engine as anything other than somewhat or wholly unfortunate. Most seem to note a dire need to rev, rendered unpleasant by the harsh sound and uneven power delivery.

    I’ve only sat in one of these, but the seats and driving position struck me as very good, and the interior seemed appropriate for the price. There’s more soft touch material here than in some vehicles costing quite a bit more.

    Not sure about an automatic in this type of car. If you’re in traffic enough to need the break from operating the clutch, is it even worth driving a car with engaging dynamics?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Yea, when did Subaru built a “gem of an engine”? And then this

      “A 12.5-to-1 compression ratio means premium fuel is required”

      Mazda goes even higher than this but requires regular gas. Of course, you go to owners manual and read

      “The engine is designed to operate at maximum performance using
      unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 93 (98 RON) or higher. If an octane rating of 93 (98 RON) fuel is not readily available in your area, unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 91 (95 RON) may be used with no detriment to engine dur ability or driveability. However, you may notice a slight decrease in maximum engine performance and you may hear some knocking (pin ging) of an engine while using an octane rating of 91 (95 RON) fuel. If the octane rating is less than 91, damage to the engine may occur and may void the vehicle warranty”

      So Chris is right, Premium is required. But probably not because of high compression ratio.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      I had to laugh at his engine description, too…an uninspired lump that proves that specs don’t give an accurate picture of performance.

      Also, this kind of automatic is exactly the wrong kind of automatic for an engine with this kind of power (maybe should be “power”) characteristics. In an “electronically controlled, torque converter-equipped automatic transmission” hooked to an engine like this, the torque is converted, alright…it’s converted mostly into heat that is then removed and dissipated into the atmosphere by the lines running from the tranny to the radiator. So the expensive premium fuel this engine burns is helping to heat up the earth’s atmosphere instead of propelling the vehicle…and the acceleration figures prove it.

      If you want to get a a dual-clutch automated manual DSG in your GTI, or the new 10-speed torque-converter auto in your Mustang GT, go for it – those vehicles are actually faster in that form than they are with the manual. But this Toyota 86, or a Miata – ? No way.

      And speaking of those cars, Chris – go drive a GTI, or a Mustang GT – you need your gem-of-an-engine detector recalibrated.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t like Subaru engine noises as they are too agricultural.

    • 0 avatar
      Jean-Pierre Sarti

      I too had to chuckle when I read the line about the engine. I would have replaced gem with turd…

      I wanted to love the Toyobaru but every time i borrow my buddy’s BRZ I just can’t get over this terrrible terrible terrible engine.

      I guess this is the classic case of “beauty in the eye of the beholder”

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I’ve driven a 86 on track and engine is literally the worst part of the car. I mentioned before on another FRS/BRZ review that the tach moves and the car accelerates but two do not appear to be in sync. I realize a flat four (due to missing a much needed turbo) isn’t going to push you back into your seat, but there is nothing “fun” about this engine at all. In the past I’ve owned Hondas and they are torque-less wonders, but they scream and beg you to explore redline often. My ’89 Prelude Si was a joy to blast thru the gears despite being slow compared to what a Mustang’s V8 offered.

        An automatic 86? I wouldn’t wish that on my enemy. It would be a terrible idea. Based on my experience in an 86 in its natural environment (aka the track) I know for sure I would grow bored of it as a daily driver. Its only gold star is in the light and toss-able category. As I said before it needs a turbo and should have been a hatchback like the Celica, Supra and the original 86 for which its named. While I found the 86’s manual to have a light clutch the shifter was slightly vague compared to the notchy but rifle bolt-like action of my 350Z. Since the engine is such a turd the only way to enjoy it would be the manual version.

        I’d love to talk to someone who picked an AT with car and have them explain WTF where they thinking. Sorry but this does not compute.

        • 0 avatar
          Synchromesh

          Really, you own a 350Z and you complain about the 86? Lol.

          I’ve driven a 350Z before and it was well below average on so many fronts. Sure, the power was decent but the bathtub feeling sitting position was awful, the interior was very plasticky and it felt very heavy. I don’t remember the shifter action all that well but compared to my NA Miata at the time it wasn’t anything to remember. I thought about picking it up to replace the Miata but after driving a couple I firmly crossed off my list. It’s just wasn’t anywhere close in fun as Miata or S2K were.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        Beauty in the eye of the beholder is true. I agree with the lack of responsiveness and linearity with the NA flat four but I’ll take any Subaru motor over a V8 just for the sound. For sure my favourite sounding engines on the market, especially the WRX/XT turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      grinchsmate

      A friend once lent me his Liberty which even 15 years ago had pretty much the same engine.

      I did the usual joke about it being a nice car but “has a bit of a flat spot around 6000rpm”, you know just to wind him up, but instead of the expected “what were you doing in my car” I just got a nod and a “yeah it’s a bit shit”.

  • avatar

    I’m beginning to come around on this one. I accept that an automatic WFO can shift faster than a person, especially me. The problem has always been automatics were stupid, working against some hydraulic programming or electronics. But…the last 3 series I drove with the 8 speed amazed me. I took it on highways and a few 20-70 reference roads, and it shifted perfectly…I’d not have done better. What I learned as a kid with the Turbohydromatic or PowerGilde isn’t operative now….

    I recently chatted with a respected Vette tuner. He said for a C6, don’t get the manual (!!), drop the rearend to a 3:43, so the tires, not the driveline take a beating, and you’ll be faster…..with an automatic….otherwise with the OE setup, you’ll shock the driveline and eat torque tubes….

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Hey @Chris,

    how those HVAC knobs feel? I remember that Toyota and Subaru had really bad ones. Although, when I sat in new Crosstrek, I found that in that car all the switch gear of high quality as far as texture and feel goes

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    It needs many more horese powers. Civic Si’s have that much power and are thousands cheaper. Heck the Focus ST will outright murder this thing on any race track, and it’s cheaper still, with more power, going to the front wheels!

    I feel nothing but pity for this car. it’s the most under-engined car on planet.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Si doesn’t have RWD components, 2 heads, 2… and how much these days 0.5L goes for? Add that Si is only manual and car in this review is auto, I don’t see much difference. Although, I approximately know Si packaging, I don’t know what is in ’86 here.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        slavuta – Also consider the Civic Si is a trim level of a very high-volume car. It benefits from economies of scale for nearly all major components.

        The Toyota 86 is largely its’ own car with almost no economy of scale. I believe the engine architecture shares some core similarities with other higher-volume Subaru engines, but beyond that the 86 shares nothing major with any other model.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    “Sitting in heavy traffic on US 30 near Chicago Heights let me reflect on the absolute superiority of the electronically controlled, torque converter-equipped automatic transmission for the task of urban commuting. My left leg thanked me repeatedly for not subjecting it to hundreds of clutch engagements.”

    You’re doing it wrong. For years, I commuted in SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley traffic daily in my Mustang GT with manual. I’d sit back 4-5 car lengths, drop it in first or second at, or just off idle. Sure, people would both ride my ass, and cut in front of me, but I rarely had to shift and, often as not, the ‘jumpers’ ended up alongside or behind me in a mile or two anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      I’d rather just use an automatic and not piss off everyone around me. If you want to “rarely not shift” just get an automatic. Getting a manual is “doing it wrong.”

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Exactly. I’ve been in traffic. Just give it a car-length of a distance and crawl in first on the idle. May be Mustang is too fast even in idle?

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        Well, it has all the torques but, mostly, I just liked to piss off the jerkwads riding my ass. Around here, traffic can go from 30-50MPH to zero in a few car lengths, so 4-5 car lengths let engine braking do its thing. BTW, the car has 131K miles and still has the original clutch and hardly any wear on the original brake pads.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      +1
      The dealers love to sell options and inspire the fear of 3 pedals in traffic to the unwary.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Reminds me of what a modern 240SX would be like. Just smaller and cheaper on the inside.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      240 SX in its original form wouldn’t be too bad today, especially interior. Remember those nice carpets?

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      My wife had a 240SX and while I understand where you’re coming from, in my opinion the 240SX punched above it’s weight (at the time) when it came to the engine and transmission.

      I can’t say so about the 86 – it’s all show and no go. My Buick family sedan would murder this thing. Heck, I’m pretty sure my Suzuki suv would too.

      I’ll grant that I may be looking with rose colored glasses at my fondness of the 240SX. I’ll grant that I’m glad Toyota made this for the people that like this sort of thing and I’m thankful it’s not another Corolla.

      But I really don’t think it’s a proper Japanese answer to our American pony cars like the 240SX was.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Yeah, this is the kind of car I would like… except I already have a 240SX (and I can get a JDM Silvia for half of what this runs).

  • avatar
    hamish42

    To exercise my left leg I hang out with my 1968 Mini Traveler on weekends. To spend 3 soul-sucking hours every day in Toronto’s gridlock, I’ll select “D” if you please. Different tools for different jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      See my answer above but, I’ve been in Toronto traffic and you get a pass. It was the worst traffic I’ve ever seen, and I endure California’s worst–including LA–fairly often. The roads seemed OK; we got the feeling Toronto’s traffic engineers are sadists and don’t drive themselves (and this was a couple decades ago).

      • 0 avatar
        hamish42

        ;=} Thanks for the pass. Toronto roads answer the question: “what if we built a city for 2 1/2 million people and 5 million showed up?” Sorry if you had a rough time.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Pretty much the same situation in any large city that’s actually experienced growth, hamish, though it sounds like Toronto has it worse than most (being a huge city doesn’t help). I don’t think that 60 years ago, anyone anticipated the kind of car-driven traffic that’s we take for granted today.

  • avatar
    ajla

    There’s a lot to like here. The proportions are good, it’s unabashedly RWD, you can get it with orange paint, it comes STANDARD with a mechanical limited-slip (*cough FCA and Kia*), and it doesn’t have a bunch of autonomous stuff on it I don’t want.

    But still, it is very much not fast. I just don’t see how doing an STI/TRD version with the engine from the WRX would completely ruin the car or require Cayman pricing.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      It’s probably moreso that once you push the power levels up to WRX levels, you lose out on the (relatively) light nimble feeling (or get near STI money for not STI performance), and at that point, most buyers would probably just take the more sensible WRX. I doubt there’s any way they’d make the development dollars back, even if it is a parts bin job.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        Edmunds had one for a long-term car…they supercharged it, but it still wasn’t very fast…but then found they had to replace the crappy stock Michelins to handle even that much power…then they tried to track it, but found that they would need a big brake kit and brake cooling (it has none stock) for it to handle even moderate track-day duty, needed a cowl brace to stiffen it up, etc.

        It’s just so built to a price point…and just so built to a power point. No excess capacity in any of the go/stop/turn regimes. If you tried to get STI performance out of it, you’d have to buylike $8k worth of components, and even then you’d be looking at probably $5k worth of shop time, unless you could do the wrenching yourself. And even then, you’d probably find the next weak link was the tranny, or the clutch, or the diff…or the halfshafts…or all of the above.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          The car is balanced around that 200 horsepower engine. Unfortunately it was designed for a market everybody thought they wanted (lightweight nimble car that was tossable at “sane” speed limits) but as it turns out what people wanted was a pony car contender in the Japanese tradition.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          Pretty much every car needs a brake upgrade to be track worthy. The exception being the upper end sports car with serious track packages like ‘Vettes.

          What I don’t understand is there is no way a turbo would add that much weigh here. You talking the turbo, upgraded exhaust and an intercooler. Honestly I bet the required wider wheels and tires would add more unsprung weight but it would be so worth it. Subbie already makes the right engine its sitting in the WRX. Not everyone wants AWD and 4 doors in their “sports car”. Plus the WRX is bit too boy racer and the 86 has a more traditional sports car feel and look. They just put the wrong engine it in. I’m actually shocked the 86, a niche car to being with, got a unique engine when the parts bin could have supplied the perfect one to build the car around.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            It’s not exactly scientific, but the weight jump between a base Impreza and a WRX is about 300lbs – presumably all in, a turbo BRZ would at a minimum, crest the 3000lbs mark. Can the stock BRZ powertrain and driveline components handle an extra 100lb-ft of torque? There’s no way the stock 215 width tires are enough to handle the extra power, so we’re adding wider, heavier wheels. Not an engineer, but I’d also assume the suspension would have to be beefed up. A ~10% weight gain isn’t insignificant. And all that in pursuit of how many extra sales (compared to buyers who would neither buy the current BRZ or WRX)?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            3000lbs is about what a Cayman weighs, is 150lbs less than the Evora, and 500lbs less than a Camaro V6 1LE so we aren’t talking about turning it into a Chevelle SS or anything.

            However, if the vehicle was designed to be so delicate that 250hp/250tq requires a complete re-engineer for it to not shred itself to bits then I don’t think I’d be interested in any version of it anyway.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    I don’t understand why designers consume the valuable console real estate with a huge manual look-alike shifter on electronically controlled automatics.
    Perhaps so the clutch-challenged don’t feel so embarrassed as the phoney shifters visually emulate an honest shifter very closely?

  • avatar

    I hate that paint color.
    The design is looking increasingly dated.
    The interior isn’t good (see bolster wear on seat already).

    I’m overall pretty meh about these, and I think less compromise with a 2-seat would’ve been better.

  • avatar
    guardian452

    I was looking for an automatic MX5 when I bought mine… but the cost difference is a lot more than the $1200 option would suggest. I got a ceramic sport for about $25k OTD and absolutely zero options. The few automatics at Kings Mazda were all touring or club level or otherwise gilded to be over 30 grand.

    I only had so much in savings, I didn’t want a note for more than 36 months and wanted it within a certain budget. I really didn’t want a touchscreen radio. So it was either the silver one that I got or a black one. Every other car on the lot (and probably in all of Cincinnati with an AT) was over 30 grand.

    The stripper model with an automatic doesn’t exist. Or at least it didn’t exist in 2016.

    • 0 avatar

      My boss bought a manual MX5 from Kings Mazda. Here’s how he felt about the sales experience:

      “I felt like I needed a shower when I left there.”

      Service experience hasn’t been much better.

      • 0 avatar
        guardian452

        They are open on sundays. The only Mazda dealer in NKY isn’t. The salesman was fine but clueless. The F&I was fine. They didn’t try to sell any warranty or rustproofing BS or steer me into the most expensive monster SUV or pickup on the lot. I was in and out in under two hours. I knew what I wanted, they have inventory online, and didn’t even test drive anything other than making sure the car started and ran in the parking lot. They did a good deal on my old 3 trade-in because my mother bought it there before she sold it to me.

        I have never and would never let anybody else work on any of my cars. Especially a dealer monkey.

        Buying the challenger from Wyler Ft. Thomas was a disgusting experience. But dealers do have a reputation to live up to. One hand, it was barely a year old for nearly half off MSRP. OTOH, it did have nearly 50k miles so it wasn’t a steal of the century deal.

  • avatar
    excfsater

    For about the last year, the only car my wife and I have owned is our manual transmission 2016 BRZ. We’re both retired and wanted to see if we could manage to live with such a small car on a daily basis. There have been a couple of occasions when a little more space would have been helpful (and others where it was “handy” to not have more space), but overall we’ve managed quite easily. Driving the BRZ always puts a smile on my face even though it isn’t as fast as many other cars I’ve owned.

    When our grandchildren get a little older I suppose we’ll be forced to move to something with more passenger room, but for now we’re happy with our choice. I guess that puts us in the minority.

  • avatar
    Fred

    If my Elan had 200 hp it would be scary.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    The fake air ducts can at least be fitted with fog lights to look a little less cheap. The online builder is a real treat. Pick a color, a transmission, and a few accessories from the TRD catalog. Center armrest? Cool, you’re good to go.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    A lovely car with an engine that just doesn’t want to come out and play. Probably the most disappointing car I have ever test-driven. I disagree that it needs more power, it just needs more fun (and I agree with Corey – Subaru motors are agricultural at best). Imagine this car with the 1.4T out of a Fiat Abarth. Making it an automatic justs suck even more soul out of it.

    And if you are shifting all the time in traffic, you are doing it wrong anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      I think the hoodline dictates a boxer motor and the choice in those is pretty small.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And yet the Miata manages a low hoodline with engines that don’t suck.

        Alfa Romeo used to make a cracking boxer that sounded fantastic – Subaru should take some notes. Boxers fours are supposed to be smoother than inline fours, but you wouldn’t know it from driving a Subaru.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    ” but those looking to haul bulky stuff (like track-day tires) will need to seek alternative arrangements”

    Nope, you can fit the track tires if you flip down the rear seatback. This was in the initial publicity pics.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      Yes. The ability to haul a full set of tires was touted widely when this car was first introduced as a Scion and Subaru. This point also applies to the reviewers comments on the 2+2 seating. The +2 is more about room for the tires than for people.

  • avatar
    lonborghini

    I’m on my second FR-S. I just love these things. It is a gem of an engine when you know how to use it. My car has a manual transmission and I have replaced the original exhaust system with something much lighter and much noisier. I have driven across the country and back in an FR-S and frequently auto-cross on weekends. Yes, a full set of tires will fit with the back seat folded down. My FR-S is now sporting its Winter tires and tomorrow I will be driving 270 miles from my work location in Maryland to my home in New York State. I participated in the 86 clubs both in California and the Virginia/Maryland area. It’s not unusual for dozens of them to show up for meets, mostly driven by young folk. I’m the old guy in the clubs. As an added bonus, my wife won’t even ride in the FR-S. For my personal car, I wouldn’t have anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      JaredN

      “…but those looking to haul bulky stuff (like track-day tires) will need to seek alternative arrangements.”

      Thank you for mentioning how the you can fit a full set of tires in it- that was one of the design parameters (and head room to accomodate a helmeted driver) when the car was first launched, I remember learning about that in a training class (I’m a Subaru salesperson).

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Very nice. Now… Mustang please!

  • avatar

    When I had a press loaner of the Scion badged version I thought that their effort to make the automatic transmission sportier ended up just making it odd. The shift points were artificially high.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Why do these types of cars continue to install the useless half seats in the back???
    Wouldn’t omitting them allow more $$ to be used elsewhere in the vehicle, namely the engine?
    Is the “2+2” just some sort of import tax dodge?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Its an insurance dodge or used to be an insurance dodge as 2+2 cars aren’t considered sports cars and if you want to get right down to it with a B-pillar can even be considered a sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Does the insurance dodge even hold water these days? Lets see: RWD, light, small, sporty looking, go fast(ish) options, 2 doors. Insurance companies know its a coupe, its not a 4 door sedan driven by old ladies to church. Granted your not paying the Mustang or Camaro V8 policy penalty but there is no way your insurance on an 86 is lower because Toyota decided to put some padding and seat belts behind you… is it? Insurance is based on risk along with cost of replacing smashed fenders. The 86 encourages risky behavior: hard Prius tires? Easy to slide? They clearly weren’t focused on make it a “normal” car as that is pretty much the opposite of a fun toss-able car it is.

        • 0 avatar
          guardian452

          MX5 insurance was a *lot* cheaper than Mazda 3 insurance for some reason. Of course, we then replaced the old ford escape with a new-ish challenger and now the policy again costs the same as it did with the 3….

          I have no idea how they come up with insurance premiums. It’s got nothing to do with the number of seats.

          Maybe because the 3 is a good first car for teenagers whereas the MX5 tends to be driven by old men on sunny weekends.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          @ JMII – I think that’s the case these days as some surprisingly sporty cars are cheap to insure. Insurance on my GT350 isn’t too bad only about 30 bucks more than my last Mustang GT (granted that’s apples to oranges since my GT was insured through Progressive and the GT350 through GIECO but all the same you would think the difference would be more stark given the GT350 would be totaled if you tore up everything forward of the A pillar).

  • avatar
    Forty2

    “My left leg thanked me repeatedly for not subjecting it to hundreds of clutch engagements.”

    I’m a 55-yr-old fat guy with bad knees whose left leg routinely does hundreds of clutch engagements every goddam day in awful Atlanta traffic. It’s not that fucking hard.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Even I, who doesn’t enjoy driving manuals, don’t see the point in the automatic in this car. The only Toyobaru I’ve driven is a BRZ “Aozora Edition” which has all the STI body addenda and big rims, but I was definitely disappointed. All the compromises in comfort and usability weren’t worth it when the previous gen Si I drove immediately after was 5x as fun to drive in every way and had more space and was more comfortable (even though it too had too big rims which made the ride harsh). Every car in this segment is stupid looking on the outside (other than the GTI and Miata) so other than being a RWD Coupe there’s really not much this car has going for it nowadays, and even then an Ecoboost Mustang or bottom end Camaro has more power and the RWD dynamics.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Formula 1 cars have 2 pedals. I think I remember Damon Hill making a remark about the need to adjust to the left-foot braking, because he started out with 3 pedals, but 2 pedals is obviously faster.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Some of you (not all) need to be reminded that neither your preference for manuals nor the ability to operate them make you special or better than other enthusiasts.

    You can claim manuals are more fun, but they’re not superior for performance any more. Like any skill set that’s been rendered obsolete (churning butter, making your own soap, etc), it makes for something to be proud of but it doesn’t make you better than anyone else or inspire acclaim from the masses.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “…not superior for performance anymore”?

      Look up instrumented road tests of the manual and automatic versions of this car and you’ll find that’s not even remotely true – the manual version of this car is substantially quicker.

      Same is true of the car I drive as well.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        In general though, he’s right. If the car has enough power and has a matched sport torque converter or a DCT DSG whatever then yes, there’s no need for a manual.

        However its not all about pure speed… there’s a lot of fun in rowing a manual on a mountain road. Some people still like that in a manual.

        Slapping a torque converter in a car when you should be going into flappy paddle dual clutches is lazy though.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    Chicago Heights? Taking the scenic route?

  • avatar
    legacygt

    This car is an example of the product people simply getting things wrong. From day one, this car should have been called a Celica where it would have been an instant and lasting hit. Slapping a Scion badge on it was one of a number of bone-headed moves made with regard to the Scion brand over the last 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Agree. And much as I like small cars, this car is a 1/2-size too small. You should at least be able to get a couple of 12yo’s in the back seat, if it is going to have one. If not, then don’t bother with the back seat at all. But above all, it just isn’t fun enough to justify the impracticality. Notice I didn’t say it isn’t fast enough – it isn’t fun enough.

  • avatar
    lonborghini

    The point is that the product planners got things exactly right for those of us who own and love the 86 just the way it is. The fact is, if the vehicle accommodated twelve year olds in the back seat, we would have bought something else. We bought this car thinking primarily of the person to occupy the driver’s seat. Everyone else and their twelve year olds, please take the short bus, aka SUV.

  • avatar
    cobradave

    I’ve driven a manual 86, it’s hardly a sports car, more like a low riding sedan.
    So I imported a real sports car from Japan, a 2002 TT Supra VVTi. If you want a sports car, forget the 86, it’s a dud.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Bigazfordtruck: Agreed, however the local push seems to be for the boulevard option which will push more traffic onto...
  • SPPPP: For context, FCA’s gross revenue in 2018 was 110 billion dollars (billion with a B), but still, nearly a...
  • SunnyvaleCA: >>> And I’m sorry but if you are going to make design a key point <<< More like: if...
  • SPPPP: Are we suuuuuuuure this is a crossover? Because if this is a crossover, then I think that makes the old Suzuki...
  • SPPPP: Which of these 3 ideas is more wasteful of time and talent … Sending the NSX technicians home without...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States