Toyota 86, the FR-S lives on

Subaru Boxer Engine with Toyota logo

2017 Toyota “86”

The Sports Car formerly known as the Scion FR-S lives on as the Toyota 86. Toyota kept the popular rear wheel drive scooter, with minor changes, providing driving enthusiasts with a viable

Red Toyota 86

The Toyota 86

alternative to the Mazda Miata and the 86’s brother, the Subaru BRZ.

First offered in 2012 as the Scion FR-S the Toyota 86 saw few changes until this year when along with the name badge swap Toyota restyled the front and rear bumper, added a lower wider grill and went with LED lamps at all four corners. Minor interior updates help plush out the cockpit and a radio upgrade helps edge the car into 21st century infortainment. More significant are the engine and suspension upgrades that improve handling a bit and add 5 horsepower.

This is a driver’s car. The fun of the Toyota 86 comes from the quickness and nimble handling that allow the pilot to play on twisty roads, take high speed curves and maneuver through traffic. The seat hugs your body with very good side and lower bolsters while offering decent comfort. At five foot ten and 165 I fit very well into the contours and experience no seat slip as we wound around fast corners. I would recommend a seat fit test before buying if you’re much bigger than I am.

There is a back seat, sort of. It makes a good package storage area. There is little leg room with the front seats all the way forward and none if the driver is average size or better. Access is tight. While I didn’t try installing a car seat in back I imagine it would be difficult if not impossible to do. But then this is not a family sedan!

Performance is smooth throughout the rev band and this year they dropped the final drive ration to 4.3 from 4.1. That doesn’t sound like much of a change but it does get you through gears a bit faster than I was used to. It also provides enough gear ratio to accelerate in high gear on the open road without having to down shift. I didn’t hit triple digits with the 86, but anything under that was stable and felt well connected to the asphalt.

Infotainment is still a few years behind what we have grown to expect in new cars. The Pioneer 8 speaker system sounds great, and the touch screen works well but the functions are very limited. There is no navigation and few apps. The only app on our car was Aha. Aha provides plenty of entertainment including location services, audiobooks and thousands of radio stations. There is also no Apple Car Play or Android Auto which is a disappointment, but this is a driver’s car and while pushing it around the corners or twisting roads you do not miss the extra functions.

The Toyota 86 is a joint project with Subaru, and the 86 is a fraternal twin brother of the Subaru BRZ, sharing the 4 cylinder boxer engine that kicks out 205 horsepower and 156 pound feet of torque when coupled with the 6 speed manual. For the size and weight of the 86 this is enough power to do the job. With the huge focus on horsepower rating in performance cars lately 205 sounds anemic. If the 700 horsepower beast is a defensive lineman the Toyota 86 is the fleet footed wide receiver.

Price as tested was $27,120 making it competitive with the BRZ and Miata.

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We reviewed the 86 on the Auto Mojo Show on January 14, 2017, listen to it here.