Ace of Base: 2018 Toyota 86

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

You bunch of ungrateful whelps. “Give us affordable rear-drive performance!” cried all hands, weeping at the thought of departed rear-drive funbags such as the MR2 and Corolla GT-S. Toyota, ever the dutiful servant, shacked up with Subaru to create the chuckable 2,700 lb sprite you see above.

And how’d you repay ‘em? By waiting for the things to show up on BHPH lots, that’s how! Ingrates. This is the car everyone wanted and then promptly forgot, as illustrated by the fact it is outsold more than 2:1 by the antiquated Sequoia.

My rage is manufactured and over the top, of course, as everyone’s seems to be these days. Still, the 86 is a great car, especially in base trim.

There are technically three trims of the 86: base, GT, and GT Black. All are powered by the 2.0-liter boxer-four, whose dimensions allow it to be slung low under the 86’s long hood, imbuing the sporty imp with a centre of gravity similar to that of Lowly Worm.

Base 86’s are priced at $26,850. For that sum, one will find good touch points inside the cabin, such as a leather-trimmed wheel that tilts and telescopes so drivers can get comfy prior to a bit of back road barn burning. In fact, Toyota goes through the trouble of specifically mentioning “knee support cushions for spirited driving,” indicating there are more than a few gearheads on both the engineering and marketing sides of the table.

Air conditioning is standard, of course, as are all manner of power motors for the doors and windows. Manually-adjusted seats keep the weight down. Remote keyless entry appears but a push-to-start is reserved for the GT, leaving base model owners suffering the indignity of twisting a, y’know, actual key in order to fire up the boxer engine.

It’s that mill which prompted the most carping from armchair critics, most of whom bleat that 205 horses and 156 lb-ft of twist isn’t enough powerrrrrr. An automatic transmission sucks up five horses, costs more, and should be avoided like the plague. It’s not a bad ‘box, but the spirit of this car is better suited to a stick. A six-speed manual transmission helps keep things on the boil while a Torsen limited-slip diff doles out power delivery at the rear.

Oddly, the only color on Toyota’s palette for which they charge a premium is white. Extroverted shades like Ablaze Red and Oceanic Blue are gratis, as are any number of greys. Beige is not available. In a presumed effort to keep a lid on costs, black fabric is the sole interior choice. Those cruising Toyota lots will learn a rear spoiler is a dead GT giveaway, as are fog lights up front. Neither are necessary; stick with this base car.

Toyota did rummage around in the engine a couple of years ago, finding those extra five horses (for manual cars, at least). The company reiterates that a turbo is not in the cards, saying the car’s architecture could not accommodate boost without negatively affecting its weight balance. The next-gen car may get a displacement bump to 2.4L. We’ll see.

The 86 enjoys robust aftermarket support. Intakes, exhausts, tunes, and the like are all available to those who feel their Toyobaru needs more oomph. A popular plug-n-play turbo kit, one of many, promises an extra 100 horses, giving the car a power-to-weight ratio not far off that of a Charger Hellcat. Springing for these treats will be all the easier for those who buy the cheaper base car.

Only 2,288 of these machines have been sold so far this year, a number roughly equal to how many Corollas are sold in two days. Like I said: buncha ingrates.

[Images: Toyota]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selection.

The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

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  • Thejohnnycanuck Thejohnnycanuck on Jul 11, 2018

    It's a car! Sorry, wrong underpowered Toyota.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Jul 12, 2018

    I worry for the Toyota/BMW team-up on the Supra, would much prefer Toyota reliability under the hood.

    • Noble713 Noble713 on Jul 12, 2018

      Rumors on the Supra MkV forum indicate that Toyota told BMW they wanted the engine to be good for ~700hp, so while the new Supra has a B58-based engine it uses the iron bottom end from the diesels in the family. I wasn't fond of hearing that as I think the B58 is a pretty stout closed-deck block (shops are making 600+hp stock internals) and I wanted an aluminum powerplant significantly lighter than a 2JZ......but it does indicate that Toyota is keeping high-power durability in mind. I wish they went over the Z4 with a fine-toothed comb, got the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) for a bunch of BMW parts they didn't like, and then had Denso make their own versions that never break.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Supporting EVs is supporting Chi-nah.
  • Eliyahu Oh, a nicer looking 2025 Camry!
  • Analoggrotto Sell Canada to Mexico.
  • MaintenanceCosts Just here to say thanks for the gorgeous picture of Vancouver, which may be my favorite city in the world.
  • TheMrFreeze I don't doubt that trying to manage a company like Stellantis that's made up of so many disparate automakers is a challenge, but Tavares asking for so much money is simply bad form. With the recent UAW strike and the industry still in turmoil, now is not the time. And as somebody with a driveway full of FCA products, I'd just like to say how much I miss Sergio and FCA. At least with him Chrysler and Dodge stood a chance of long term survival...
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