It takes supreme confidence by a car manufacturer to launch a car on a racetrack where the chances of a breakdown are greatly increased.
But such was Toyota's confidence in the 86, it launched the sports coupe at a motorsport complex in Canberra that included five different racing mediums.
Motoring journalists were invited to do their best on a drift course, hill-climb track, dirt flat track, race circuit and a gymkhana. The test drive started with a 150km drive from the city centre to the Fairbairn Park Motorsport complex.
I drove the $34,990 GTS manual. The top-of-the-range model gets a few extra features such as satellite navigation, leather seats and dual-zone climate control over the entry-level model.
During this part of the road
test, I was starting to feel that the suspension might have been a little hard for day-to-day driving.
But it was my only concern at that stage and the larger wheels on the GTS might also have contributed to the harsh ride.
The 2.0-litre engine, though tuned to produce its maximum power at high revs, was happy cruising at metropolitan speed limits, the short-throw six-speed manual was light and moved smoothly between gears and the small sports steering wheel (the smallest in the Toyota range) sat comfortably in hand.
The sport seats were also comfortable and supportive.
Then it was time for some fun.
Over the next four hours, the 86 was put through its paces.
The 2.0-litre boxer engine has a linear power delivery, rather than a throw-you-back-in-your-seat brute force and it rewards you for winding it all the way out to the 7450rpm limiter.
And there is very little body roll, so changing direction is quick and easy.
It is so well balanced that the first sign of understeer can be quickly fixed with a bit more acceleration. Even on the dirt track the handling was sure and confidence-inspiring, and with standard road tyres.
It was hard to fault.Steve Lague
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