- Redesigned for 2022
- More power from a larger four-cylinder engine
- Mildly restyled interior
- Still a small rear-wheel-drive sport coupe
- Kicks off the second 86 generation introduced for 2022 (previously called the Toyota 86)
Nearly a decade ago, Toyota wowed car enthusiasts with its all-new back-to-basics sport coupe. Co-developed with Subaru and initially sold as the Scion FR-S, the Toyota 86 was inexpensive, small, lightweight and very fun to drive. Now, for 2022, Toyota is back with its redesigned 2022 GR 86. Significant changes include a more powerful engine and new styling, but most importantly the new GR 86 improves upon the same principles that made the original so enjoyable.
What's up with the new name? The GR stands for Gazoo Racing, a performance sub-brand. The 86 joins the 2022 GR Supra as the other Toyota model sold in the U.S. with the GR designation.
Note that the GR 86 is fundamentally identical to the 2022 Subaru BRZ, which we review separately.
The GR 86 is the epitome of "fun to drive." Its simple combination of low weight and nimble handling encourages its driver to have fun, be it on a two-lane backroad or for timed laps on a racetrack. Its handling is welcoming and instructive to rookies, but also enjoyable to experienced drivers. While these characteristics are similar in the last-generation model, the 2022 GR 86 has several key improvements.
The first is a power upgrade. Like its predecessor, the GR 86 features a horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine mounted up front. Along with a larger 2.4-liter displacement and improvements to the intake and exhaust, the engine produces 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft — an increase of 23 hp and 28 lb-ft compared to the previous model.
Modest as that increase may sound, it addresses the biggest complaint we had with the previous 2.0-liter engine — that it was generally unsatisfying to drive unless you were revving the engine all the way out to its redline at all times. The additional power gives the GR 86 more oomph in more places, improving its responses on track and during the commute. Toyota says the manual GR 86 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, which is about a second quicker than the previous model. (The optional automatic is rated at 6.6 seconds.)
Beyond the power increase, the difference in steering is immediately obvious. The GR 86's wheel moves with more linearity and eagerness, providing a greater sense of directness to the driver when compared to the previous model.
The 2022 GR 86 comes with two different wheel and tire sizes. The base trim comes with 17-inch wheels fitted with Michelin Primacy tires, while the Premium trim has 18-inch wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tires. The base tires have less maximum grip than the Michelins but they're still fun to drive on as they highlight the playfulness of the chassis at lower speeds — these are the tires to get for easy drifting. The Premium trim greatly increases available traction and offers higher cornering speeds without diminishing the car's balance. There's also a Track drive mode setting that dials back stability control intervention in a way that lets drivers approach the GR 86's limits without fear of sliding off track.
While the manual transmission makes for the most fun in the GR 86, the optional automatic reacts quickly enough to its shift paddles, and big downshifts arrive smoothly so as to not upset the car midcorner.
Time limitations meant we only drove the GR 86 on a racetrack, so we'll have to wait until we can test a car on local roads to assess ride quality and interior noise. For now, we can say that the 2.4-liter engine develops a pleasing sound near redline.
The GR 86 features bucket seats with aggressive side bolstering that keeps you in place during hard cornering. The seats and steering wheel offer enough adjustment ranges for drivers of most sizes. But even when they're adjusted and settled, some drivers might find their left knee bruised from bracing it against the door during high-speed corning.
The GR 86's interior continues to be fairly minimalist in design but functional. A digital instrument panel lies behind a thickly padded steering wheel that features a basic but straightforward set of controls.
When you activate Track mode or disable stability control, the tachometer switches to a bar-style display that minimizes lower engine speeds and prioritizes your view of the engine's rpm near redline. Combined with an audible alert, you'll never need to guess when to upshift. Track mode also adds a manually triggerable lap timer to the gauge cluster
The uncluttered dash is adorned with a keyless ignition, dual-zone climate controls and a row of easily identifiable toggle switches. Along with the larger wheels and tires, the Premium trim level adds comfort features such as heated front seats and additional leather and suede-like surfaces.
The GR 86 comes standard with an 8-inch central touchscreen that features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity. A six-speaker audio system is standard, while the top-of-the-line Premium trim level gets an eight-speaker system.
In terms of safety and driver's aids, all GR 86s feature seven airbags, hill start assist and a reverse camera. Only automatic-equipped models have advanced assists such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and collision mitigation.
The GR 86's coupe profile offers minimal cargo space (6.3 cubic feet) when compared to similarly priced hatchbacks such as the Hyundai Veloster N or Volkswagen GTI. The space may look tight, but flip-down rear seats ensure there's enough space for four mounted wheels and the basic tools owners would use on a track day.
While Toyota hasn't formalized pricing information yet, brand representatives said the base GR 86 will start "comfortably" under $30,000 before destination fees. That price lands the GR 86 among other compact sporty cars including the Hyundai Veloster N, Mazda Miata, Subaru WRX and Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Of this group, the GR 86 and Miata are the only two with rear-wheel drive, giving them unique perks with regard to handling. Compared to the Miata, the GR 86 offers more horsepower, a fixed roof, back seats and more storage space.
Toyota says the GR 86 will get 21 mpg combined with the manual transmission, which trails comparably equipped competitors by a sizable margin. The Miata, for example, gets 29 mpg with its manual transmission. The estimate increases to 24 mpg combined with the automatic, which falls to the middle of the pack among similar vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions.
The soul of low-cost, fun-to-drive sport coupes lives on in the new 2022 Toyota GR 86. Thanks to its revised styling and a much-needed power increase, this new 86 can put a smile on anyone's face, regardless of budget or skill level.