When the Scion FR-S was first introduced back in 2012, enthusiasts who had been clamoring for a lightweight, nimble, rear-wheel drive sports car that didn’t break the bank were thrilled to have another option besides the Mazda MX-5 Miata. And I was one of those people as well.. until I actually drove one.
You see, while the FR-S checked off many of the boxes for me, it was severely lacking in power, with just 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque on tap. Purists argued that more power would ruin the balance of the car, add weight, increase the cost, etc. But it was this lack of power that was the primary complaint when people drove it for the first time.
Thankfully, someone at Toyota / Subaru must have finally gotten the hint, because the all-new 2022 Toyota GR86 (and its twin, the Subaru BRZ) gets a healthy bump in power courtesy of a new 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine that puts out 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and let me tell you, it completely transforms the car’s demeanor!
I recently spent a week with the 2022 Toyota GR86 in sunny Los Angeles, and it was the perfect setting to test out Toyota’s latest sports car, as Southern California has no shortage of amazing driving roads. Would the new GR86 (formerly the Scion FR-S and then the Toyota GT86) finally address the previous-generation’s shortcomings and deliver a Miata-like driving experience?
Yes! When Toyota first introduced the new GR86, they stated that it had “more power, better handling, improved styling, a 50% increase in torsional stiffness and a modern interior,” and what a difference it’s made. As I mentioned above, the new engine delivers more horsepower and torque, and that torque comes on much earlier in the rev range. The car’s 0-60mph time drops from 7.0 to 6.1 seconds for the M/T and from 8.0 to 6.6 seconds for the A/T.
But power is only half the story, with the GR team also focusing to improve the car’s handling. Sport-tuned independent MacPherson front struts feature refined damping performance and gain new rebound springs to enhance handling characteristics. A double wishbone style multi-link rear suspension features a Torsen limited-slip rear differential for improved traction while cornering. Add in an ultra-low engine placement in the chassis, along with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires (standard on Premium trim), and a curb weight of just over 2,800 lbs, and you’ve got quite the canyon carver!
Visually, the Toyota GR86 is a real stunner. While the looks are similar to the outgoing model, the new model is sporting a G-mesh-shaped matrix grille up front, which is complemented by parabola-shaped LED headlamps, functional front vents, and side spoilers that help improve stability and steering response at high speeds. The GR 86 Premium, which rides on 18-inch matte-black alloy wheels, makes its presence known with a large, duckbill rear spoiler. Our car was sporting Track bRED paint, and it was quite the headturner.
GR engineers also stretched their creativity in seeking weight savings on the GR 86. The front fenders and roof panel are now constructed of aluminum, in addition to an already-aluminum hood. Other examples of weight-shaving ingenuity come from the use of structural adhesives in the underbody, a resin fuel door, new light-weight front seat frames, the redesigned EPS and changes to the driveline and engine block.
The interior of the GR86 carries on the sporty look, as you can see in the photos below. The Premium’s six-way adjustable black and silver accented front seats feature two-level heating and come upholstered in perforated Alcantara with leather side bolsters. Black and silver accents continue through to the steering wheel, shift boot and hand brake.
A push-button start fires up a GR 86-logo animation on its 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) multi-information display. Display content varies based on whether drivers are in Normal, Sport, Snow or Track mode. Sport Mode throws a red ring around the speedometer for an aggressive look. Track Mode was developed with race driver input and prominently displays an RPM-band in the center, oil and water coolant temperatures and lap timer.
The HVAC system has added independent left/right temperature adjustments, and new, large LED dials and piano-key switches are arranged on the center console for easy operation. A leather-wrapped steering wheel has integrated controls for the audio system, hands-free calling, voice-recognition system, display meters and cruise control; AT adds an ACC display option button. The Premium Grade gains aluminum sport pedals and footrest.
While the last-generation GT86 had a small 7.0-inch display, the 2022 GR86 has an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, complete with an eight-speaker setup and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. I wasn’t a huge fan of the infotainment system, it felt like more of an afterthought than an integrated system, and it’s honestly a bit disappointing that here in 2022, there are still car that don’t support wireless CarPlay. That said, I plugged in my phone and just used Apple CarPlay for all of my needs.
As you might expect, the rear seats are best suited for small children (this 6’2″ guy didn’t even attempt to crawl back there), and trunk space is rather limited as well unless you drop the rear seats – I was able to fit a carry-on suitcase and a backpack in there with the rear seats in place, and that took up most of the space. But this is a sports car that’s geared more towards single folks, so that’s fine by me.
Pricing for the 2022 Toyota GR86 starts at $27,700 for a base manual model, while our GR86 Premium with the 6-speed automatic came in at $31,800. That price also includes Toyota’s two-year complimentary factory-scheduled maintenance policy, along with a complimentary one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and one free High Performance Driving Event (HPDE). That’s a lot of bang for your buck!
Overall, there’s a lot to like about the 2022 Toyota GR86. If you’re looking for a raw sports car that delivers a ton of smiles per hour, then you can’t go wrong with it. Yes, the ride is a little firm, the interior is a little barebones for some folks, and it’s a bit on the noisy side. But once you hit your favorite twisty roads (like Topanga Canyon), you’ll honestly forget all about those shortcomings, with a big smile on your face as you rip through corner after corner.
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