You have one job, Toyota 86.
We think most will agree that it succeeds, very well. It’s not powerful, so our performance rating is based entirely on the Toyota’s 6-speed manual, steering, and drivability. It gets an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The only engine won’t win over spec hunters. It’s a 2.0-liter flat-4 that makes 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque in most versions. (When paired with an automatic the engine is slightly detuned to 200 hp—another reason to skip the autobox.)
Power doesn’t arrive until deep into the rev range, around 4,500 rpm. Reach toward the top shelf and the 86 delivers deeply satisfying and predictable twist from its rear end. The sharp 6-speed manual clicks through gears with relative ease, and is our pick to keep power in a full-nelson and right where we want it.
Firm steering communicates well what’s coming through the tires, and when combined with easy sight lines from pinches in the hood above the wheel wells, the 86 neatly tucks in and out of corners.
It’s not enough power to impress many at the drag strip, but it’s enough to keep our attentions on curvy roads, where the 86 shines anyhow.
The 86 has been revised over its lifetime to be less tail-happy, more buttoned down in the the corners. Some of that is due to stickier tires, some of it comes back with thicker sway bars. The 86 lacks a track-focused version—hardcore weekend warriors will find that in the Subaru BRZ tS, which we cover separately. The compromise is slightly better ride quality in the 86 that makes the small sports car a daily driver in smile states.
The manual is our pick for fun, but the automatic would make sense if stop-and-go traffic will be your 86’s natural habitat—not the track. The shift paddles will hold gears as long as you like, all the way into the red line, and we like that.
Review continues below