2022 Toyota GR86 Premium – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
An engineering marvel
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
It's been a long time coming, but the little two-seat sports car Toyota introduced in 2012 as the Scion FR-S has finally evolved into the 2022 Toyota GR86. Make no mistake about the GR86. It's finally the full-fledged sports car the FR-S should have been all along. My initial reaction to the FR-S was, it's a nice ride, but when is the turbo version coming out? Though the first generation FR-S evolved into the Toyota 86 after the Scion brand was scuttled, the car remained underpowered for the first decade of its existence. Finally, a completely revamped and renamed new model has arrived for 2022 called the GR86 in honor of Toyota's storied Gazoo Racing department. The honor has been well bestowed because the GR86 finally gets a motor worthy of its dynamic chassis.
Although there's still no turbo version, Toyota has significantly improved overall performance by increasing the displacement of the original version's 2.0 liter, 200hp four cylinder engine with a 2.4 liter, 228hp opposed four. The performance boost from this change alone elevates the GR86 to a much higher class of performance.
As it has been from the beginning, The GR86 is still cooperatively produced by Toyota and Subaru (which markets their own version called the BRZ). For the first decade of its existence, the FR-S/86/BRZ made do with a fairly anemic Subaru-supplied 200hp flat 4. The 2022 version ups the ante with a 2.4 liter horizontally opposed 4 cylinder FA24 engine from Subaru that adds 28hp and 28lb.-ft. of torque to the power output. More importantly, the former torque peak of 156lb.-ft., which required 5400rpm to achieve, has been recalibrated to make 184lb.-ft. at just 3700rpm. Just as significantly, the power-to-weight ratio of the 2,838lb. GR86 drops to 12.44lb/hp from the previous model's 14.19lb/hp. The bottom line here is that the GR86 is much easier to drive in all situations, with immediate power available through either a 6-speed manual gearbox, or a 6-speed sequential automatic transmission with paddle shifters. In earlier iterations, the Toyota 86 was hard-pressed to break 15 seconds in the quarter-mile run, and 7 seconds in the 0-60mph sprint. The successor blows past those numbers with a 0-60mph run of 5.4 seconds, and a quarter-mile posting of 14.5 seconds at 100mph. Top speed now stands at 140mph.
Our test car was the "Premium" model, which is only available with the automatic gear train. Retailing for an exceptionally tempting base price of $31,800, the GR86 Premium includes the following upgrades over the base model: duck bill spoiler, aluminum pedals, heated leather seats with suede inserts, 7.5 x 18 inch alloy rims with 215/40R18 Michelin Pilot 4 Sport tires. Our test sample was finished in "Track Red" for an extra $425, bringing the total tally to just $33,250. All models of the GR86 are equipped with Torsen limited slip differentials, but the base model, which retails for $28,635, is saddled with 17 inch rims, and less grippy 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy radials. Just as they say, 'All Corvettes are red' so too should all GR86s be painted Track Red. This color perfectly encapsulates the stunning new lines of the GR86. To me eye, the Toyota version is better looking stylistically than the busier Subaru BRZ.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a couple of runs up Coast Route 1 with no traffic to spoil the fun. The 86 is so responsive you will marvel at its stability, its direct feedback, and the lovely soundtrack from the engine, which is enhanced by 8 stereo speakers that amplify the sound when you select Sport Drive Mode. The latest coupe features deeply scooped race style seats, a much improved dash configuration with 8-inch touchscreen, clearly labeled switches for HVAC, and such a responsive automated gear change mechanism that you hardly miss a 6-speed manual. Although the 86 has added some weight over the front wheels due to its larger displacement engine, engineers have compensated for the addition by converting the steel hood and roof to aluminum. The 86 also features some handling upgrades it does not share with the BRZ: stiffer front steering knuckles, stiffer front sway bar, different spring rates.
The GR86 Premium is a such a lively package you won't be able to keep yourself from heading to the race track or the autocross circuit on weekends. Toyota knew that, so they provide new owners of the GR86 with a free one year membership in the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). So drop the green flag and have at it.
2022 TOYOTA GR86 PREMIUM
ENGINE: 2.4 liter flat 4, 16 valve, aluminum black and heads, port & direct fuel injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 21MPG City/31MPG Highway
PRICING: MSRP starts at $27,700
HYPES: More Practical and Faster Than a Miata
GRIPES: Give it a Rear Wiper, Please
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10