Toyota GT86 review 2020

Find out more about the Toyota GT86 in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • Massively fun to drive
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Good levels of standard kit


  • Dated interior
  • Engine has to be worked hard to get performance
  • Not cheap to run
Model review

The Toyota GT86 first arrived on the sports car scene in 2012. It marked a return to the affordable performance car market for the Japanese firm, and quickly caught the attention of enthusiasts around the globe. The coupe uses the classic sports car layout – front-engine, rear-drive – while also boasting low centre of gravity and good weight balance to achieve the most smiles-per-gallon possible.  


The model shares many parts with its twin sibling, the Subaru BRZ. The two are almost identical, apart from some styling differences and a few mechanical alterations. In addition, the car’s interiors are also slightly different. 


The car harks back to Toyota sports cars of old, namely the Corolla GT, 2000GT, which also utilised a 2.0-litre engine, and the famous AE86. The GT86 also shares its ethos with the Sports 800, the firm’s first sports car – a car which used a boxer engine as well. 

Current model

For 2017, the GT86 was facelifted, gaining a wider front grille and a reshaped front bumper. In addition, the car got all-LED headlamps, and the fog lights were redesigned to match. The interior was looked at as well, bring it more up to date, but not quite enough for it to look thoroughly modern. Some may like the retro feel of the GT86’s cabin, though others may want something a bit more current. 


Out on a twisty road is where the car really shines. The levels of balance and poise are that of a Porsche Boxster/Cayman, which is properly high praise. It’s not particularly the speed that astonishes – it’s not particularly quick anyway – although it can take corners pretty quick, but rather the adjustability. The back end can come out, if you wish, in a very controlled and predictable manor, and you can feel the car can sort of move about beneath you. 


Not to mention the fantastic levels of engagement, which is quite refreshing nowadays. Steering is extra precise and, when opted for, the manual offers a great shift. Drivers feel very much in tune with the entire car when piloting a GT86, making for a satisfying, thoroughly enjoyable driving experience. 


Another thing to note, aside from the drive, is actually the future of the model – something which looks bright at the moment. At the time of writing, a second generation GT86 and BRZ has been recently confirmed. It will be built by both manufacturers, yet again, in partnership with one and other, and is expected to be revealed in 2020 before going on sale later in the year. 

Value for money

New Toyota GT86 models start at £27,830. That base price is a little higher than the Mazda MX-5 – a key rival – and its £19,495 starting price. Although, for that price tag, the Mazda won’t be fitted with an engine as powerful as the GT86’s, and also, it’s a less practical car straight off the bat. 


Furthermore, in a world where affordable performance is becoming less common, cars like the GT86 and its reasonable price are becoming rarer. Only cars like the GT86, Subaru BRZ, Mazda MX-5 and arguably the Ford Mustang are retaining a fairly low asking price for the class. This all is to say that this little Toyota is really good value for money, particularly used where they’re dropping under £10,000 now.  

Looks and image

The GT86’s styling, especially in facelift form, is sure to divide opinion; most likely less than the arguably better-looking Subaru BRZ. It’s aggressive front facia and gaping mouth looking like it’s trying to swallow up the road won’t be to everyone’s tastes. However, we’re sure most, like us, will appreciate the car’s classic sports car silhouette and proportions. Yes, it’s not the most beautiful vehicle in the world, but it’s certainly far from the worst looking.  

Video review

Space and practicality

Being a back-to-basics sports car, the GT86 isn’t really built as a load lugger or a family car. However, for the class, it’s not too bad. For starters, it has four seats, already giving it an advantage practicality-wise over the two-seat Mazda MX-5. Sure, the rear seats are a tight fit and adult-sized passenger will most certainly struggle for space, but they are usable. 


In terms of boot space, there’s 237 litres on offer, which is less than the Audi TT’s 305-litre boot. It’s an alright space and a good shape though and folding down the rear bench reveals a lot more room. In general, the GT86 offers pretty good for practicality in the sports car segment. 



There’s just one engine available in the GT86 – a 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine producing a modest 197bhp. Those who aren’t aware of what a boxer engine is, it’s a motor where the cylinders are horizontally opposed, instead of, for example, arranged in a V shape or inline. This helps lower the car’s centre of gravity and, therefore, improve handling. 


Now, 197bhp may not sound like a lot for a sports car, and, frankly, it isn’t. Buyers after a lot of power for their buck will be disappointed by the GT86’s straight line performance. That being said, it’s got enough punch to feel relatively quick and, plus, this car is about handling, balance and poise as oppose to outright speed. 

Running costs

Those looking for an economical run-around may be best to look elsewhere, because the GT86 isn’t like a lot of Toyota’s more efficient other cars, such as the Prius and Mirai. With a focus on driving thrills rather than cheap running costs, you won’t find the model sipping fuel and hugging trees – but for the class, it’s not bad. 


When equipped with the manual gearbox option, it’s said to achieve 32.9mpg and emit 196g/km of CO2. In automatic form, it’s a little bit more economical, with claimed figures of 33.2mpg and 183g/km of CO2. 

Things to look out for

Toyota is a manufacturer known for producing reliable cars – and the GT86 is no different. Admittedly, the interior does feel cheap in places, but build quality appears strong. It’s also quite a simple car, with a simple engine and simple parts, meaning there’s not many complex features to go wrong. It’s also built for enthusiastic driving, so it shouldn’t fall apart when put through its paces. 



There aren’t too many direct rivals to the GT86 apart from the Subaru BRZ and Mazda MX-5. Of course, at the price point, there are a lot of good hot hatches it’s in competition with, but in terms of rear-drive sports cars, a lot of the alternatives require more cash. Stuff like the Audi TT and BMW 2 Series Coupe could be considered rivals but are considerably more expensive – the TT starts at £32,165, for example. 



The Toyota GT86 seems to hold its value rather well, most likely because it’s quite unique, now more than ever. It’s also quite desirable and sought after thanks to its amazing handling characteristics and fun drive. As mentioned before, used prices are starting to creep under £10,000 – for a car in good condition with relatively low miles-on-the-clock – but age is always going to be a factor. 

Trims explained

Currently, there are three trim levels to choose from – GT86, GT86 Pro and GT86 Club Series Blue Edition.


GT86 is the base trim. It gets 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome dual exhaust pipes, automatic LED headlights, front fog lights and heated door mirrors.

Starts at £27,830

'GT86 Pro'

Step up to GT86 Pro, and the model is treated to cruise control, hill-start assist, leather gear knob, aluminium pedals and dual-zone automatic air conditioning.

Starts at £28,980

'GT86 Club Series Blue Edition'

Topping the range is the GT86 Club Series Blue Edition trim level - it gets crystal black door mirrors and side fins, suede door trim, heated front sports seats and a leather handbrake.

Starts at £29,525


  1. The Toyota GT86 is a superb sports car with excellent handling
  2. It’s one of the best driver’s cars on the market and is properly fun to drive
  3. The model offers great value for money
  4. It’s fairly practical for the class, but still a small, compact car
  5. Not particularly quick, but the boxer engine is decent and helps lower the car’s centre of gravity
  6. Won’t be very cheap to run, but won’t break the bank
  7. Not a ton of direct rivals, apart from the Subaru BRZ (its twin sibling) and Mazda MX-5
  8. Limited choice of trim levels, however, there’s a good level of standard kit
  9. New GT86s start at £27,830
  10. Used examples in good condition with relatively low miles-on-the-clock are starting to dip under £10,000

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