Toyota 86: Five years old, so it’s time for a makeover

  • Revised body styling, especially at the front
  • Sticking to ‘purest pleasures of driving’
  • New thin-spoked gunmetal alloy wheel rims
2017 TOYOTA 86 FACELIFT: Is it prettier than the first version. Below is the car as it appeared at its 2012 launch in South Africa. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic
2012 Toyota 86 GTS
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE 1: The 2012 Toyota as it first appeared in South Africa back in August 2012. The rear view is pictured further down the feature. Image: Toyota

DURBAN, South Africa – While the definition of a sports car is not a precise one, what is fact is that since the very first automobile made its debut engineers, designers and creators have constantly been looking for ways to make them go faster, corner better, and look more beautiful than their bread-and-butter brethren tasked with getting their occupants from A-B.

That said, Wikipedia – that holy grail of knowledge – does a pretty good job of labelling this rarest of vehicular breed, the sports car. It’s defined as a small, usually two-seater (or 2+2), two- door vehicle designed for “spirited performance and nimble handling”.’ It goes on to say that sports cars may be spartan or luxurious but high manoeuvrability and minimum weight are required.

INTELLIGENT STEERING-WHEEL: Leather-wrapped, remote controls for some features and clear view of driving data in the  2017 Toyota 86 facelift. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic
INTELLIGENT STEERING-WHEEL: Leather-wrapped, remote controls for some features and clear view of driving data in the  2017 Toyota 86 facelift. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic


They may be equipped for racing, aerodynamically shaped, have a low centre of gravity and steering and suspension designed for precise control at high speed. All that, Toyota believes,is the perfect description of the Toyota 86.


“In creating the 86,” Toyota says, “we set out to engineer a car that captures the purest pleasures of driving, a sports car in the true sense of the word – simple, focused and, above all, fun.

“As a distillation of the classic sports-car qualities of compact size, agility, responsiveness and feedback, it’s more than fulfilled its promise and more than 170 000 have been sold worldwide sales 2012.”

Behind the car (and its sister machine produced by Subaru, whose Boxer engine all 86’s carry) are earlier Toyota sports cars such as the 2000GT and AE86 Corolla. It’s a direction promoted from the top by Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, who declared: “If it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car.”

2017 TOYOTA FACELIFT. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic
2012 Toyota 86 GTS
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE 2: The 2012 Toyota 86 GTS Image: Toyota

Indeed, the Subaru horizontally opposed engine has done much to lower the cars’ centre of gravity by sitting low over the chassis.

Toyota SA’s vice-president for marketing, Glenn Crompton, believes the latest improvements will enhance the appeal of the 86:  “These updates  are focused on responsiveness, balance and handling.

2017 Toyota 86 facelift. The engine is a Subaru horizontally opposed unit carried over, but amended, for the 2017 cars. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic

“The car It exemplifies the passion within Toyota for designing and engineering cars that are non-conformist and have thrilling driving dynamics, It’s attracting new and younger customers to the Toyota brand.”

  • Some of the changes:
  • Diode headlights/turn indicators
  • Lower nose with revised front bumper
  • New 17″, 10-spoked, alloy wheel rims
  • New diode-lit rear light-clusters  and light guides


The overall styling, Toyota says, has undergone “a subtle evolution while remaining  faithful to the concept of combining contemporary lines with visual references to models from its illustrious sports-car heritage” There’s been a minor reworking of the nose: wider, low-set grille;  pronounced lower lip to the front bumper with fins; a lower nose”.

LEARN MORE about the Toyota 86

It all, Toyota says, refreshes and amplifies the car’s ground-hugging stance though the car remains at its previous dimensions:  4.24m long, 1.32m high and 1.77m wide. The wheel bases stretches to 2.57m.


2017 Toyota 86 facelift. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic
2017 TOYOTA 86 FACELIFT:  The cabin on each model is black, the surfaces intended to be non-reflective of sunlight. Manual or auto gearboxes depend on model. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic


The new 17″ cast-alloy wheel-rim design has been produced for 86 (High models) with 10 very slim spokes in gunmetal grey. At the tail is a wider and deeper black moulding and diffuser; a new bi-colour (black and body-coloured) wing-type rear spoiler above  distinctive tail lights.

The suspension has been “adjusted for improved handling, stability, ride comfort, and turning performance”

More significant, Toyota says, is  a new driving mode, track, which cuts the  electronic stability- and traction-control systems. High-spec units back this with a multi-information display of power and torque curves and g-forces, and a lap-times stopwatch.

2017 Toyota 86 facelift. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic
ESSENTIAL INFORMATION: The 2017 Toyota 86 facelift. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic

The use of various high-tensile steels has, Toyota says, improved body rigidity, though the bonnet is aluminium; the wings  aret thinner sheet steel to reduce overall weight.

Toyota’s chief engineer required exterior design changes to have a positive effect on handling and stability and the new wing-type rear spoiler has a positive impact on both aerodynamics and stability.

READ MORE Subaru features on Carman’s Corner

Toyota  D-4S direct fuel-injection tech has been added to the Subaru engine to increase throttle response, power and torque. Drive is still through the rear wheels and a six-speed manual or autoc transmission. The 1998cc quad-valve DOHC horizontally opposed engine makes 147kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm from 6400-6600rpm. 100km/h comes up in 7.6sec (manual ‘box), 8.2 with the auto.

Toyota/Subaru claim  7.8 litres/100km (manua) or 7.1 (auto).

The revised 86 has an “all black” cabin than, Toyota says, not only adds to the sports-car feel but also reduces reflections; as does  a suede-like material over the facia assembly.


High-spec units get a combination of perforated Alcantara. The standard model’s cloth upholstery has been upgraded.

Three versions will be available in South Africa – Standard, High and High a/t.

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