Sports coupe market redefined
Sports coupe market redefined

For the past two years Toyota has been promising to start building cars that stir the emotions and bring passion and excitement back to the brand.

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The car developed by the world's biggest manufacturer to deliver this transformation is the 86 - a 2+2 sports coupe designed and built in conjunction with Subaru.

This week Toyota launched the new 86 in Australia and it made an immediate impact.

It is a car that will redefine the small sports coupe market and Toyota as a brand.

The 86 delivers on every aspect promised by Toyota boss Akio Toyoda in 2009 when he announced that the company needed to change the way it built cars.

Before the Australian launch Wheels magazine conducted a head-to-head test with the then-unpriced 86 and a $115,000 Porsche Cayman - one of the world's best mid-engined sports cars.

The magazine conducted the comparison because Toyota used the Cayman as the benchmark throughout the development of its sports car, the first to wear a Toyota badge since the demise of the MR2 in 2007.

The fact that Australia's most respected car magazine dared to pit a Toyota against a Porsche was unusual. At the end of the test they declared the Toyota the winner. It was a massive accolade for the Japanese car maker.

When Toyota announced the 86 would have a starting price of $29,990 (making it just over 25 per cent of the cost of a Cayman) it became even greater.

After I spent a day behind the wheel at the national launch in Canberra earlier this week, the magazine's decision is a lot easier to comprehend.

The 86 is a superb driver's car that is beautifully balanced, responds to every input, handles superbly and is surprisingly quick.

From the time the 86 was first conceived, driver enjoyment was the primary focus.

With that in mind, don't expect to find comfortable back seats in this 2+2 coupe; they are parcel shelves with seat belts.

Likewise, boot space is not great but, according to Toyota, if you lay the back seat down (although that is not an easy process) you will be able to carry a set of racing tyres for track events.

What you will get is a car that will be unmatched in driving enjoyment and performance.

Toyota is offering the 86 in two grades - GT and GTS - both powered by a newly developed direct-injection 147kW 2.0-litre flat-four engine that revs freely to 7450rpm and has a high compression ratio of 12.5:1.

Both the power train and driving position have been set as low and as far back as possible to optimise balance, giving the car a near-perfect 53:47 weight distribution.

Fuel economy is remarkable for a sports car - 7.8L/100km for the manual and an even better 7.1L/100km for the automatic.

Comprehensive weight-saving measures, resulting in a kerb weight of just 1222kg, have contributed to handling and economy as well as a power-to- weight ratio of 120kW/tonne.


PRICE POPULAR BUT SUPPLY IS TIGHT

Even before Toyota had announced the pricing of the 86 it held more than 500 orders for its new sports coupe. With pricing coming in at $5000 less than even the most optimistic predictions, inquiries have lifted substantially.

Toyota marketing manager, Matthew Callachor, said that within hours of the price being revealed dealers were taking new orders.

While that is good news for Toyota it is not so good for potential customers. Even if you went into a dealer today you are likely to be faced with at least a three-month wait for your car.

Toyota Australia has been restricted to just 250 cars a month with little opportunity to increase that number because of its popularity in Japan and the US.


PRICING

GT manual $29,990
GT auto $32,490
GTS manual $35,490
GTS auto $37,990

The West Australian

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