2020 Toyota 86 Hakone Edition Review by David Colman
SEE ALSO: 2013 FR-S Review By Carey Russ
A remarkable accomplishment for the money
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Now in its 4th year of production, the Toyota 86 is better than ever. Back in 2013, the 86 began life as the Scion FR-S, a long nosed, short tailed, 2+2 coupe that shared design and driveline with joint build partner Subaru's BRZ. When the Scion brand was discontinued in 2017, Toyota moved the FR-S into the Toyota lineup and renamed it the 86. For 2020, the 86 model line has become more differentiated than ever, with three separate models available: 86, 86GT and Hakone Edition. While all three share basic similarities, the offerings divide into base, enhanced and luxury categories. The 86 ($27,060) is the standard version, the 86 GT ($30,190) is the high performance model. The new Hakone Edition we tested, which is named after a famous stretch of twisty road (Hakone Turnpike) 2 hours southwest of Tokyo, retails for $29,870.
Hakone Green is the exterior shade that identifies this model. This handsome metallic green resembles classic British Racing Green, and when combined with the Bronze color of the "twisted spoke" alloy rims, the Hakone Edition looks a lot like a classic Lotus sports car of the 1960s. Which is to say, very purposeful and striking indeed. The performance of the Hakone does not disappoint in that regard either. Thanks to its rear wheel drive design, exceptional light weight (2,799lbs.) and excellent power to weight ratio (13.7lbs/hp), the Hakone is a nimble, willing accomplice for ripping up back roads. The responsiveness of the chassis is unmatched by any other sports car save the Mazda Miata. It takes just 2.4 turns to move the steering rack from lock-to-lock, so the steering replicates the feel you would find in a racing single seater.
The FR-S was introduced with a Subaru-designed flat four motor that produced 200hp. Over the past 7 years that output has increased to just 205hp. It takes some athletic shift management to extract the full potential of the 86, because power peak arrives at 7000rpm and torque peak (156lb.-ft.) hits at 6400-6600rpm. Our Hakone Edition was equipped with a 6-speed sequential automatic transmission with paddle shifters. We discovered that manual gear selection was easily accomplished by bumping the floor mounted stick forward or back. This technique eliminated the need to worry about where the paddles on the steering wheel were located in the middle of a turn. As long as you keep the pancake 4 cylinder motor near its peaky rev sweet spot, the 86 scoots with the best sports coupes you can buy for twice the price.
In fact, the 86/BRZ/FR-S has become a one marque class in racing across the globe. Toyota calls the car's dominant racing performance "Hachi Roku" or force to be reckoned with. In the USA, the model owns SCCA Autocross Class STX as well as the Pro Solo Super Challenge. All this from a car that costs just $30,000. For 2020, the 86 GT is the one to select if ultimate performance is your aim. That model increases cornering adhesion by replacing the 17 inch rims and 215/45 R 17 Michelin Primacy tires of the base 86 and Hakone Edition with a set of 18 inch alloys mounting shorter sidewall Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires (215/40R 18). Also new for 2020 is a TRD suspension upgrade consisting of Sachs shock absorbers and augmented Brembo brakes.
But if fit and finish are more important than ultra cornering grip, the Hakone Edition is the one to buy. The striking black and tan interior is carefully crafted to arrest the eye. Tan leather sport seats feature black Alcantara seating inserts. Contrast stitching heightens the custom look. The tan/black motif extends to the shift knob, parking brake lever, and sliding center console lid. Toyota even supplies a tan leather keyfob and owner's manual cover. The extra thick pile trunk mat features an embossed "86" logo sewn with contrast stitching. The interior of the Hakone Edition is quite the showplace, with exceptionally supportive seats that look as good as they feel. But due to the fact that the trunk of the 86 holds just 6.9 cubic feet of cargo, you'll be inclined to use the +2 rear seats for additional cargo storage rather than adult transport.
The Toyota 86 is a remarkable accomplishment for the money. The Hakone Edition looks better than ever, with a lustrous exterior finish that extends to the smallest detail, like matching the color of the rear wing endplates to the exterior shade of the body. If you're an aggressive sporting driver, this svelte coupe has your name all over it.
2020 TOYOTA 86 HAKONE EDITION
ENGINE: Opposed 4 Cylinder DOHC, 16 Valves
HORSEPOWER: 205hp @7000rpm
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 24MPG City/32MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $31,545
HYPES: Agile, Light, Handsome
GRIPES: Needs Rear Wiper
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10