By on September 3, 2021

When Toyota and Subaru shacked up nearly a decade ago to birth the 86/BRZ twins, our enthusiast community rejoiced at the bundle of joy. Here was an affordable, rear-wheel-drive coupe on skinny tires that was designed to make its driver grin – both on the way to work and at the autocross course.

The next-gen car, called the GR 86 in Toyota showrooms, builds on the nimble chassis while bumping its displacement for more (and more accessible) power. There are but two trims – base and Premium – plus the choice of a manual or automatic transmission. You know our answer to the latter, so let’s figure out which trim is more appealing to the fun-seeking gearhead.

In case you’ve been under an especially virulent rock, let’s run down some of the highlights. A 53/47 weight balance and a low-slung 51.6-inch overall height combine with a 228hp flat-four engine to give the GR 86 all the right ingredients for weekday (and weekend) fun. A torque figure of 184 lb-ft might not impress those of us rocking naturally aspirated V8 engines in our daily drivers but it’s worth noting all that twist is now on tap at 3,700 rpm which makes the mill much more usable in everyday conditions. If you’re wondering, Toyota increased engine size by upping the cylinder bore. A run to 60 mph should now take about 6.1 seconds for stick-shift models.

It is promised that all the good colors like Track bRED and Trueno Blue will be available on both trims, not just the Premium. LED lamps, front and rear, also appear on the base car thanks to the wonderful thing called economies of scale. Same goes for the chrome-tipped exhaust and GR badging, plus interior gubbins like the jumbo infotainment screen. The main exterior visual distinctions on Premium are a set of 18-inch tires and a distinctive spoiler; in other words, people will immediately know you’re rocking the base trim – if you care what others think. The powertrain is the same across both cars.

Pricing is still fluid ahead of the car’s November launch, but Toyota suits say it’ll remain under 30 grand. Also, there’s no reason to think the delta between existing base and GT trims (a $2,850 walk) won’t be reprised for the new entry-level and Premium trims, giving us a rough benchmark for making a decision. Shown in these images is the base car – yes, that’s the smaller of the two available rear spoilers.

Which brings us back to the original GR 86 question: base or Premium? While the latter does have larger tires and a natty duckbill spoiler, that entry-level trim keeps weight to a minimum (2,811 pounds) by doing without the likes of snazzier front seats and an eight-speaker sound system plus a few other safety nannies. The base car will be our choice, since it makes the most of its too-fun platform and leaves a few bucks for track tires or – if you wish – other go-fast add-ons.

Please note the prices listed here are in American bucks and currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less, obscene market conditions notwithstanding. Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.

[Images: Toyota]

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34 Comments on “The Right Spec: 2022 Toyota GR 86...”


  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Base version with a manual is the only way to go. At least for people who understand this car. Same for the Miata/RX-5.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s very unlikely I’d buy this because I’m automatic-driving scum and the auto almost certainly wrecks this car.

    But, those of you always commenting how ride-or-die you are for a clutch pedal I hope you are giving this and some of the other recently released MT vehicles a look.

  • avatar
    BSttac

    Fully agree, base version with a manual is the way to go. I prefer the no grip tires as well

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Itchy to try this. And Nissan Z

  • avatar

    I’m still just floored by how heavy cars have gotten. That said, 2800 lbs. and still meeting all the current safety standards is better than most!

  • avatar
    DungBeetle62

    I’ve got a 2007 Miata PRHT that I’m itching to replace and this one isn’t even on the list. Far as I’m concerned, the backseat doesn’t matter and having a button to push that makes the roof go away does. Back to the Mazda store for me.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Premium, for two reasons: (1) wife + heated seats, and (2) I’ll admit I’m shallow enough to pick the 18s because I like the way they look.

    Since it has a back seat that would allow me to take small kids along I might even have a look at it (probably the Subaru-badged version) once I’m done paying for my house remodel.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Right spec, wrong car. Everything’s good on it, although even 50/50 dist becomes 80/20 under hard braking. That’s where mid or rear engine cars shine. I might give it a slight rear swaybar increase and zero toe (front).

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      And under hard acceleration out of really tight corners, especially bad pavement ones, rear and mid engine cars carry their front right into the ditch like old Lambos…. Doubly troublesome since they’re all so darned wide by now they leave virtually no room for hacking around that trait (Elise excepted.) I realize mid engine is fundamentally “better” for racing, but race cars are also fundamentally different than road ones.

      I bet this is a real treat of a daily driver driver’s car. Toyota most often does what it sets out to do well.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        When you walk into a pole, do you blame the shoes? Mid engine cars take a different line, carry more speed into a turn. The rare turn might favor a front engine and some a live-axle too.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          On tight, public canyon roads, there is only room for one “line” for wide, modern cars. Barely even that, in many places. And that’s in America. In Europe, it’s tighter still. And in Asia, you’ll struggle fitting two meeting Keis next to eachother on many tighter roads.

          I don’t think that will change anytime soon since, these days, an important component of making a road a “great driving road” is that police cruisers simply don’t fit……

          For closed circuit racing, things are very different, even on tight tracks like Monte Carlo. Or even IoM, despite even that being considered tight enough to be bikes only on race day. But think IoM with traffic going both ways…. Line selections get a bit limited in the tighter parts.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It wouldn’t be a public canyon road if it was too tight to get a pickup/van through, never mind rescue trucks, school buses, trash, etc. Europe too.

            And if it is, why would you want to drive that fast on it?

            Lambos aren’t for me, but they’re about 6 inches wider on each side vs a sports compact.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            There are plenty of narrow roads in New England where there are narrow spots that make it tough for two wide vehicles to pass. Plenty of plastic from mirrors on the side of the road. Even near my house, there are roads that have stretches where I’ve been behind a large truck and leftmost tire of the dual rear wheels has to be left of the double yellow line. That same road has a bridge marked as one lane. Locals with small cars use it as two lane. It’s a main road. There are some narrow residential loads that I think are designated as “Lanes” that are about 12 feet wide for two lanes. Add snow plowed to the side of the road or overgrown vegetation in the summer. Inside Boston itself, there are really tight streets in the North End and the Jamaicaway four lane highway. Drive the Jamaicaway at night with a wide vehicle sometime.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Well then you put them on the list of places you don’t haul A$$, front or mid engine, live axle, fire, FedEx truck, what ever.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            You can mostly, at least in the US in my experience, fit _A_ bigger vehicle. Sirens blaring Get Out Of My Way!

            Not two coming at each other.

            And it’s not about hauling rear. Just driving like a human being down a road which, more than any other kind, requires a decent handling car to do so.

            Narrower roads are a lot more common in places where roads are mostly just paved carriageways from the ox and horse drawn era. Mediterranean Europe and much of Asia is like that. New England too, it seems. You’ll never be able to drive “fast” on them, at least in anything bigger than a Kei or perhaps an Elise, but there’s a huge difference between the sort of flow you can get in a tidy, well handling car, compared to in anything overgrown and hence clumsy.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ve been keeping an eye on the twins (GR 86/BRZ) because although I love the Miata for it’s mission I dislike convertibles and a vestigial backseat is nice to have.

    The correct spec is to get the Premium model and 6-speed, I do love me a stereo upgrade. Then find someone who bought the base model to swap rims with so you can get the 17 in rims and all-season tires

    • 0 avatar
      Mike A

      The only stereo upgrade is two additional speakers isn’t it? If that is true then how much difference does that make in such a small car?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I would think the smaller the interior the bigger difference just 2 speakers would make. Almost every stereo upgrade nowadays includes a separate subwoofer.

        The heated seats in the Premium would be nice to have if you intend to commute with the vehicle like I would. I really don’t care about the upgrades to seating surfaces that would come with Premium.

  • avatar
    Mike A

    Thanks for including photos of the base model. They have been hard to find as the top spec car is in all the reviews. It is good that most things (including my favorite of keyless entry and push button start) are on both specs.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    I’m 35 years old and have never owned a car newer than 2003. This is mighty, mighty tempting!

  • avatar
    05lgt

    What makes this car compelling vs. a Miata? I want there to be an answer and have not figured it out on my own.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      OK I’ll bite. Not everyone likes convertibles – top replacements etc, plus when the top is down on a Miata (whether hardtop or soft top) the cargo capacity all but disappears.

      The 86/BRZ have standard LSD – the Miata makes you step up the Club model or order the LSD. God knows why it doesn’t have one standard.

      With the vestigial backseat folded down there is room in the 86/BRZ for a set of track tires.

      The itty bitty backseat isn’t going to work to take the kids to Disneyland but its just fine for driving 10 min to drop them off a school. For some families that means that Dad can choose this as his commuter and not have the wife whine about it being a 2 seater.

      People over about 5’10” generally do not fit in the Miata and they sure as heck can’t wear a helmet while driving one. The 86/BRZ solve that problem. Lot’s of the reviewers so far have been in the 6ft range and able to wear a helmet.

      That’s all I got.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Thanks. All I had on my own was looks.

      • 0 avatar
        msquare

        On some convertibles, like the BMW E46, you lose trunk space with the top down. Not on a Miata. The top well is permanent and the trunk is the same size with the top up or down. Unless you use the sill behind the seats to put stuff. The PRHT may be a little different.

        I speak from owning both an NA Miata and an E46 convertible. On the BMW, you can free up some trunk space as the well can be retracted while the top is up. It helps, but there is still some usable space with the top down regardless.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Vestigial back seat. I’d like a toy car and would also like my kids to be able to share in it.

  • avatar
    Jbtvt

    According to https://electrek.co/2021/07/28/everything-we-know-about-the-chevy-bolt-ev-fires/ there have been 20 Bolt fires, which puts the ratio more like 4 gas/diesel fires to 1 Bolt fire. Either way, the difference is that every gas fire I’ve ever seen has resulted from an accident. Also worth noting is that as a high-mileage driver, a significant percentage of fires/burnt shells by the highway that I see are semi trucks that burned from the trailer-end, either from the load inside catching fire or brakes dragging and starting a fire, but I’d imagine these get classed in with the othes as “gas/diesel” fires.

    I’m not anti-electric, but there’s a big difference between a car crash causing a gas fire and knowing that there’s a .000001% chance or whatever it may be that the car parked underneath or 30′ away from one’s bedroom might spontaneously erupt in flames while they sleep. Risks within one’s control usually feel less threatening than those outside of it.

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