Ace of Base: 2019 Toyota 86
Gearheads are never satisfied, are we? After years of carping that no affordable and fun sports cars exist, Toyota deigns to grant our wishes with the FR-S 86 coupe. Lightweight and affordable with just enough power, the lively little scamp seemed to be the magic elixir that cures a case of the common car.
And what did we do? Criticize it, naturally. And then most of us refused to buy it. I sincerely hope the new Supra doesn’t suffer the same fate because – as a statement of intent – these cars are a couple of belters.
Base 86 coupes start at $26,455 for the 2019 model year, a sum exactly equal to that of last year’s car.
That 2.0-liter boxer engine that causes so many arguments at the pub produces 205 horsepower at a heady 7,000 rpm, with torque peaking 600 rpm earlier at 156 lb-ft. Fun fact: Toyota says the engine’s “square “ dimensions (equal bore and stroke) are 86mm. There’s a fact to stump all hands at trivia night. Standard-issue manual transmission models make 5 hp more than their slushbox brethren, further cementing the case for a stick in this car. Toyota does specify premium go-juice, so plan that into your operating budget. Seventeen-inch wheels appear on the base car wrapped in 215/45R17 rubber.
Count your author amongst the cadre of people who think the 86 looks better in person than in photos — one of the reasons why I’m willing to delay final judgement on the new Supra until I see it in person, despite the thing resembling an automotive tribute to the noble lungfish (based on images from the show floor in Detroit). Recall the A80 Supra for which all hands pine today was also crapped upon for its bug-eyed headlights and baseball-sized taillamps when it went on sale 25 years ago.
Color-keyed outside mirrors, dual chrome-tipped exhaust finishers, and LED lamps are all present and accounted for on the cheapest 86. Neato “vortex generators” and a diffuser-style rear bumper are dandy styling flourishes one can brag about at Cars & Coffee. Air conditioning and all that gear makes for a nicely equipped interior, available on the base car in any color you want so long as it’s black.
So appreciate this sporty offering (and its just-introduced brother) while they’re here. If we remain a bunch of ungrateful whelps, Toyota might make like a frustrated parent and send us all to bed without our supper.
Cantankerous on Jan 17, 2019
I once owned a car with a steep torque curve that peaked only a few hundred rpm below the engine's 7700 rpm redline. I had to constantly row the gearbox to achieve even halfway acceptable response to depressing the accelerator pedal. Was it fun to drive? Yeah, I guess, but what I wouldn't have given for 50 lb-ft more torque that peaked about 2000 rpm lower. Living near the redline tends to make for ridiculously high oil consumption down the road. I'd buy this car with someone else's money--but not with my own.
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