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Joining the Gym: 2017 Toyota 86 Manual


Buying a sports car is like joining a gym – you know its going to be tormenting and you’re going to hate it every time you go through the door – but like going to gym, there is a sense of satisfaction in the end. Sport cars require a lot of compromise – you give up the simple things like cup holders, a back seat, and comfort. Unfortunately, not everyone has a disposal income that can accommodate a second car for their daily rituals – instead, it comes down to this, those that want a weekend of blissful joy for the weekly grind.

There’s no hiding Scion’s demise, what was once the Scion FR-S and been eaten up by Toyota’s badging and now correct spelling, the 86, which brings a little heritage to the car. Under its new nameplate Toyota working coincide with Subaru and their BRZ twin, manage to do some tweaking to the 2017 model that not only adds some new styling flair but increases some performance status.

Since coming onto the market in 2012, very little has been done to this cute little sports car. Mostly for Scion, they left the imagination up to their consumers to customize and modify them to fit their tastes – after all, that’s what put Scion on the map. Toyota has taken that concept and done some of the work for everybody by incorporating standard LED headlights and daytime running lights and fitted groovy new LED taillights in the rear. The 86 also gets a set of new shoes featuring 17-inch 10-spoke alloys and some more aggressive fascial lines.

The same story goes for the interior – nothing too dramatic has been modified but enough to keep it up to today’s standard. The steering wheel now has controls, the touch screen infotainment system has been upgraded and the seats now have a funky new cloth design. To make the 86 a more suitable car for the everyday driving, Toyota fitted additional soft touch materials, a suede like fabric on the dash, and a back-up camera making reversing much more easier.

The little dressing they did here and there are fine, but really it’s about what they did under the hood that makes all the difference. The 86 uses the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine from before but somehow managed to squeeze an additional 5 more horsepower and 5 more pound feet of torque from its tiny little engine. That means it now has 205-horsepower and 156lb-ft of torque. Fortunately for just manual drivers out there this modification is only available to the six-speed transmission fitted with the third pedal. If an automatic is your desire, it’s an additional $720, and will suffer the 5-horsepower loss.

Making this modification wasn’t easy, to get more power, Subaru lessened internal friction and increased the airflow. They also followed it up by adjusting the gear ratios to making them shorter. This improves acceleration time depending on how quick you can be with the stick – we resulted 6.1 seconds on the stop watch. Just .2 seconds quicker than our first go around in 2014.  Torque also comes in much sooner at the early part of the rev counter that can hold all the way through 7500 revolutions per minute. This now means the 86 no longer has a sluggish feeling when we first set off.

Minor tweaks have been made to the chassis to improve rigidness and composure. The electric power steering is heavy and accurate – turn the wheels and responds as such. The chassis is solid, there’s very little give in the suspension, so when we turn in, there’s very little body lean. It maneuvers like a go-kart, darting in out of lanes and cornering hard. Thanks to its TORSEN limited slip differential, it keeps everything in check from crashing. Track mode replaces the old Sport mode that can disable all the traction control nannies if you’re pro driving skills desire – this enables some slide from the rear wheels if you turn hard enough.

What we like most about the Toyota 86 is its rawness. It all feels very mechanical. You can hear and feel the clicking of the gear changings. When we push the clutch, it feels like you’re doing something manual. The sound from the engine is erectifying, almost like you can hear the pistons exploding as the revs climb higher.

Living with the Toyota 86 is not an easy task. Climbing in and out of any sports car gets tiring after the first week – luckily we only have it for seven days. The back seat is ridiculous. The ride is extremely jiggly. There is no storage for anything. You definitely can’t go to IKEA. The interior lights aren’t consistent – the gauges, climate control system, and infotainment system are three different colors. And your smart phone will set off the passenger seat seat belt notification – which beeps constantly. However, being backed by some pretty comfortable, supportive sport seats and an average of 27 miles to the gallon – I guess we can’t complain too much.

If going to the gym is your thing, the Toyota 86 will definitely work out your gluts. It continues to offer all the right stuff to bring satisfaction to any driver. And that’s a gym worth buying a membership into.

Vehicle Specifications:
2017 Toyota 86 Manual Base Price: $26,255
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $27,120
Performance Specs:
2.0-liter Boxer 4-Cylinder – 205-Horsepower, Six-Speed Manual Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±6.1 seconds
EPA MPG: 21/28/24 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average:  27 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±300 Miles





  1. Seems like a pretty good value for $27k and I applaud Toyota for leaving this alone with regard to its “raw” overall driving experience. Now if they could just disable that passenger seat seatbelt warning chime, it would be one step closer to perfect.

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