Toyota GR86 Premium MT 2022 Review

For 2022, Toyota completely redesigned its affordable sports car to give it more power, less weight, and improved aerodynamics. Does this sound like a winning formula? You are correct. One of the most interesting and significantly improved cars we have driven this year is the new GR86. Not to mention, it has a starting price of $31,490, which is alluring enough for us to think about the monthly payments.

More force? That must indicate that Toyota has finally installed a turbocharger. Forced induction is still not an option, which is unfortunate, but they have cleverly found a different way to increase output and fix one of our biggest complaints about the first-generation 86, namely that its slow acceleration always made us feel unsafe on the road.

A larger engine from Subaru, a 2.4-liter flat-four with naturally aspirated displacement and a respectable 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, powers the vehicle at first. This is a notable 23 horsepower and 28 lb-ft more than the previous 2.0-litre engine. The extra torque and the fact that it engages at 3,700 rpm earlier than before may not seem like much, but they have a significant impact on how the GR86 performs now. The mid-range is now full of enthusiasm, and the second to third gear rip is one of the most satisfying. It no longer feels like you have to climb a mountain to get any kind of forward propulsion.

This is not to say that being lazy is rewarded by the GR86. For usable thrust, you still want to keep the needle above 3,000 rpm, and there is little point in going beyond 7,000 rpm, where the GR86 starts to struggle for air. Compared to the Mazda MX-5, it has a more robust and characterful engine, though it isn't as polished, refined, or rev-happy due to its tendency to wander through its powerband. But if you push it hard, the GR86 will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.3 seconds, which is almost a full second faster than before (7.2 s). The models with automatic transmissions will complete that run in 6.8 seconds, which is 1.4 seconds faster than before.

Even giving customers the choice of three pedals is unusual in today's society; it is a luxury for some, a necessity for others, and an unheard-of idea for the vast majority. The GR86 is appealing to beginners because Toyota's GR department has kept this style of rowing gears around longer than most others while still making it an easy vehicle to drive. Shifter travel is swift, precise, and unaffected by the notchiness that some gates experience. The clutch bite point is reliable and accommodating. The gearing isn't particularly tall, and it encourages quick inputs and accurate shifting at the right RPMs. The footwell doesn't feel as confined or as narrow as the MX-5, and the pedals are perfectly placed for heel-and-toe driving. For my petite six-foot frame, the entire cabin feels roomy, and the driving position is excellent—low down with great outward visibility. However, we do wish the steering wheel could be turned more in the direction of the driver.

The automatic-equipped GR86, which costs $2,400 more and weighs 16 kg more, has not yet been put through a test, but it does include all of Toyota's cutting-edge safety features, including pre-collision braking, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning, sway warning, and lead vehicle start alert. The manual gearbox models do not have these.

The exhaust noise produced by the GR86 is not the most endearing; as the revs rise, the noise increases in volume rather than character. Its voice has a gravelly quality, as if the larynx were choked with sand and rocks. We are aware of numerous flat-four engines with more alluring voices, but alas, we don't anticipate many of these GR86s to retain their stock exhausts. Toyota also adds some noise through the speakers in the cabin, but we barely noticed.

It's uncommon for us to get into a car and feel right at home—the steering brings life to the drive. As you turn the wheel, vibrations pass through your fingertips, giving you a sense of both grip and speed. The steering is one of the best electric steering setups at this price point, and it is light without being overly boosted and quick without being overly twitchy. Although it requires quite a bit of rotation at low speeds, we wouldn't mind a slightly faster ratio. Otherwise, though, its crisp feedback and fidelity are ideal for a coupe of this size, making it simple to find harmony with the road.

A 50% increase in torsional rigidity and noticeable weight savings from an aluminum roof, hood, and fenders have improved the GR86's ride quality. Toyota also made adjustments to the chassis and suspension to make the most of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires' stickiness. Under mid-corner throttle application, you can feel the weight transfer through your seat and the rear slowly slipping away. You can then let the electronics steer you like a hero while pushing the GR86 to the limit of adhesion.

We had more fun in the new GR86 than in any other entry-level sports car in the class, despite its less than neutral handling and significantly less forgiving cornering antics when the stability and traction control are turned off. That is significant. The Volkswagen Golf GTI offers a similarly grippy driving experience and is nicely complemented by its torquey turbo-four engine, but its tedious front-wheel-drive behavior and frustrating infotainment system can make it difficult to sell. The same is true of the irate and aggressive Hyundai Veloster N, which we simply couldn't get along with and fall in love with on a country road. The new Honda Civic Si is still not in our possession.

Driving quietly reveals a surprisingly high level of tire and road noise. The GR86 is better organized than the Veloster N, but it rides rougher than a Golf GTI. In the end, we preferred the GR86's trade-off of comfort for excellent road-holding ability because it tolerates hugging the road and exploring the bottom of every pothole most of the time and because most of the time, we were so absorbed in the road flowing below us.

Have we also mentioned how nice it appears? Because not every sports car requires a huge rear wing and comically flared fenders like the Honda Civic Type R, the overall design is much softer than before. That ducktail spoiler emphasizes the sculpted rear end, and the new side air intakes give it more visual depth than the previous 86 did, which lacked one.

The interior no longer feels like an afterthought, despite the fact that Toyota's R&D department is not focused on it. We actually like the GR Supra's info layout better than the high-definition digital driver's gauges. For those who prefer a more recognizable user interface, the center console features a somewhat basic 8-inch touchscreen that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Speaking of recognizable components, Toyota also took the Subaru key fob and gear shifter.

Perfectly positioned cupholders and a foldable center armrest cover that doesn't obstruct the shifter or handbrake are both ergonomic features. Although some of the materials used are dubious—the plastic toggles for the HVAC feel as thin and flimsy as a piece of paper—some mid-grade leather and soft suede has been added for aesthetic purposes. Just keep in mind that the Golf won't provide the same level of quality as an Audi.

Although they complement the thin-rimmed steering wheel with its abundance of buttons for the infotainment system, the seats are supportive but feel like they could use more padding. A part of us wished they'd come out with a more basic, button-free steering wheel like the outgoing models.

Several more minor issues. It can be annoying at times that the gear indicator on the instrument cluster takes about a full second longer than the actual gear change. And while we are aware that no humans can fit in the back seats, they are still useful for keeping groceries and driving accessories. But what really brings us joy is knowing that our GR86 test vehicle is secure and protected from theft. Because of this, we always advise installing a miTrail vehicle tracker in your car. It's a straightforward gadget that plugs into the car's OBD11 port, and you can use a computer or smartphone to view its current location. We wouldn't leave our garage without one, much like how dash cams or steering wheel locks are an additional layer of vehicle security. Check out the miTrail products here.

The GR Supra and the GR Yaris from across the pond serve as examples of the high standard that the Gazoo Racing badge sets for Toyota's performance vehicles. The new GR86, however, offers a Whole Foods driving experience at a No Frills price, which is a welcome and significant improvement over the first-generation model. Retaining the fundamental components of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with three pedals, a naturally aspirated engine, and this stunning value only enhances the vehicle's ability to involve and engage the driver. The year's best performance deal is the GR86.


  • Model: 2022 Toyota GR86 Premium MT
  • Paint Type: TRUENO Blue
  • Base Price: $34,490
  • Price as Tested: $34,490
  • Wheelbase(mm): 2,575
  • Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,265 / 1,775 / 1,310
  • Curb weight (kg): 1,285
  • Engine: 2.4-litre flat-four
  • Horsepower: 228 hp @ 7,000 rpm
  • Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 3,700 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
  • Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.9 / 8.7 / 10.5
  • Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.7
  • Tires: 215/40R18; Michelin Pilot Sport 4
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