This is not the first time we have hopped behind the wheel of a Toyota GR86, nor do we want it to be the last. This modern-day affordable RWD sports car is perhaps the most fun you can have in the segment, per dollar.
Our tester was a loaded Premium grade model from the partnership between Toyota and Subaru. Yes this GR model, much like the GR Supra, is not made solely by Toyota. The engineering costs for sports cars are hard to recuperate in sales so manufacturers partner to share the research and development costs to increase their return on investment. In the case of the 2023 GR86, much like the GR Supra, we are glad they did and that something like this exists in the market.
When discussing true competitors to this vehicle, there really is only one: Mazda’s MX-5. We tested one previously and loved its driving nature, but lamented its usefulness for our family of 3 as it is only a two-seat roadster. The GR86 and Subaru BRZ cousin each have a back seat, but just barely. When I shoved my 5’10” self back there my head had no place to go…perhaps why there are no movable headrests in the rear of this car. The back seats are best reserved for small children, though our 5-year-old still had to ride behind me with his legs crossed in his child seat as there was nowhere for his legs to go when I was riding in the passenger seat.
This is due to the overall tight packaging of the GR86. Parked next to my compact 2013 Chevy Cruze, the GR86 looked like a toy, and the Cruze is a full-size sedan, so interior space is scarce.
The exterior styling of the GR86 is really striking, especially with our Premium’s large ducktail spoiler out back. The long hood, short rear deck, and flowing lines really give the impression that this is more powerful than it really is. Lots of attention was paid to air movement around the vehicle, giving it an aggressive appearance.
Power is supplied by Subaru with their updated 2.4L Boxer 4-cylinder which makes a decent amount of power at 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque vs. the 2,868 lbs. of curb weight. For comparison, the MX-5 makes 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, against its 2,403 lbs of curb weight. That means the GR86 has 12.6 lbs of weight to carry for every horsepower under the hood, while the MX-5 pulls 13.3 lbs/hp. Advantage: GR86.
Through our tester’s 6-speed automatic gearbox and Torsen® limited-slip differential, acceleration comes out to a Toyota-claimed 6.6-second run from 0 to 60 mph and a top speed of 134 miles per hour. Gazoo Racing installed circuit-tuned springs, shocks, iron front knuckles, and a rear suspension stabilizer bar for improved handling when the road takes a turn.
Stopping the miniature sports car are 2-piston calipers up front gripping 11.6-inch ventilated front disc rotors and single-piston calipers on 11.4-inch solid rotors in the rear. In our time taking it down back roads (and previous trips on the track, we did not experience fade. Our Premium grade model also featured 215/40 R18 Performance Michelin® Pilot Sport 4 summer tires wrapped around matte black alloy wheels. The grip was great, but the road noise was intense. Not all of that is due to the tires, in an effort to reduce weight and save money, there is not much sound-deadening material in this vehicle.
Perhaps the biggest detractor to using this as a daily driver for our family would have been the road noise. Holli noted on her road trip having to turn the Bluetooth volume all the way up and shout on phone calls while driving on a relatively smooth road. Testing on our favorite curvy backroads with heavy texture yielded a loud environment that you can sense in my solo test of the vehicle.
Trunk space is decent for just how large this car isn’t, besting the MX-5 once again. In fact, we were testing a 2023 Nissan Z at the same time we had this GR86 and the Z’s 6.9 cubic feet of space was less usable than the GR86’s 6.26 cubic feet. Holli was able to load up for a weekend trip, and I was able to fit most of our luggage in the rear when I did our standard luggage test. If no one riding in the back seat, the full setback does fold flat to offer more space, really reminding me of my brother’s 1989 Nissan 240SX from my childhood. In fact, a lot of this car feels like that one, fun, sporty, lightweight but with good power, RWD, it checks all the boxes. Perhaps Nissan should revive the nameplate, but who would they partner with to share the cost?
2023 Toyota GR86 Specs:
2.4L Naturally-aspirated Horizontally Opposed 4-cylinder Boxer Engine
184 lb-ft of Torque
6-Speed Automatic Transmission
Intelligent Dynamic Rev Management and Paddle Shifters
Rear Wheel Drive
Torsen® limited-slip differential (LSD)
Vehicle Stability Control Full-Off Mode and Track Mode
6.6 second 0-60 mph Acceleration
134 mph Top Speed
MacPherson Strut Front Suspension
Multilink Rear Suspension
GR Circuit-tuned Coil Springs, Shock Absorbers, Iron Front Knuckles, and Rear Suspension-member-mounted Stabilizer Bar
2-piston 11.6-inch Ventilated Front Disc
1 Piston 11.4-inch Solid Rear Disc Brakes
18-inch Matte Black Painted Alloy Wheels
215/40 R18 Performance Michelin® Pilot Sport 4 summer tires
Dual Cat-back Exhaust
Seating for 4 (2+2)
Heated Front Seats
6-way Adjustable Driver’s Seat with Leather-trimmed Bolsters and Ultrasuede® Inserts;
4-way Adjustable Front Passenger Seat
One-piece Folding Rear Seatback with Ultrasuede® Trim
GR Leather-trimmed Manual Tilt and Telescopic 3-spoke Sport Steering Wheel
8-inch Infotainment Screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Dual-zone Automatic Climate Control
Auto-leveling Projector-type LED Headlights with Automatic High Beams, Adaptive Front-Lighting System, and LED Turn Signals
6.26 Cubic Feet of Trunk Space (Supra 10.2)
Proximity Key with Push Button Start
EPA Fuel Economy 21/31/25 (city/hwy/cmb)
Complimentary 1-year NASA membership, * including one free High-Performance Driving Experience (HPDE)
Starting Price: $28,400
Price As Tested: $34,126