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When news released that Scion, the youth oriented sister company of Toyota was shutting it doors in 2016, we figured that most of their vehicles like the two door coupe, rear-wheel drive FR-S, would just fade away into the background and slowly be discontinued like the tC, xB and iA . With Toyota taking over and continuing its partnership with Subaru, the now known Toyota GR86 is making a return for a second generation giving us high hopes that there are still drivers eager to rev the engine and stir up some rubber.

Continuing its track of the everyday sports car, the GR86 is still rear-wheel drive, powered by a flat-four cylinder engine and offered with a manual transmission. However, it shall come as no surprise that Toyota plans to sell more GR86’s with its six-speed automatic transmission than the trickier method of rowing its own gears. But trust me, I get it – with our example arriving with its $1500 more auto-box, driving around Phoenix with its L.A. traffic jams, an automatic is far more forgiving and comfortable for the everyday routine. 

Whether a manual or an automatic, the power output is the same from its upgraded 2.4-liter engine that sends 228-horsepower and 184 lbs-ft of torque to the rear wheels. This new engine evolves the GR86 into a modern era with peak torque being delivered around 3700 rpm in lieu of the 5400 rpm from the first generation. The GR86 has always been a rev-happy little go-getter, and this one is by far no different topping out with a 7500-rpm redline – getting there feels raw with a raspy note coming from under the foot wells. The engine comes alive past 3000 rpms like it just popped a Viagra pill and is ready to bypass the foreplay.

Generally in this modern time, going with an automatic would mean it would be quicker than its manual alternative saving time between the gear changes – in the case of the GR86 automatic, that’s not quite the situation seeing that it is nearly a second slower than the third-pedal option. However, despite it taking 6.5-seconds to 60-mph, the newest generation responds much more maturely, like someone took its training wheels off and upgraded to a DMX bike. Setting off in a straight-line with the foot glued to the floor, the GR86 sets off with more grace; our automatic was prompt to action with snappy gear changes and encouraging to use steering-wheel-mounted paddles shifter.

In the corners, the GR86 is highly improved with tremendous steering feedback. The structure is far more refine and is showcased in the chassis with a smoother suspension system that is still firm but not uncomfortable. Its rigidness provides a level of confidence that is easily controllable, but when all else fails, the brakes provide a firm application and a quick stopping time.

Inside, the cabin is definitely an upgrade from where it came from. However, with the base mode starting at $28,725, it would have been nice to see some more quality detailed finishes. The cabin is relatively simple and laid out as such – it features a larger touch screen infotainment system that doesn’t look like an aftermarket addition and features Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, automatic climate control and set of switches at the base and feel like we’re engaging something important. They even fitted a digital cockpit display that is semi-customizable and changes into a different screen when changing the drive mode into track that just tickles our inner teenage maturity levels.

The interior setting overall is a comfortable one – the seats were part faux leather with suede inserts that were nicely bolsters and form fitting of any body size – granted getting in and out of it is a young man’s game and not for the middle aged, overweight ones.

Overall, the GR86 in automatic form proves you can have your cake and eat it too, a metaphor I never got but seems fitting here. There is still just as much entertainment and comfort from behind the wheel as the manual and seeing that the automatic is better in fuel, we also managed to average 28-mpgs. With our subject topping out at $33,250 that included the Premium package of summer tires, blind-spot monitoring, heated front seats, a larger spoiler and LED swiveling headlights, what more could you has for.

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