For too long, enthusiasts have believed what the car makers have told them. That they needed more power, more grip, more fancy intervening electronics. That argument looks good on paper, but can often be curiously unsatisfying out on the road. If that's been your experience in buying an affordable and enthusiast-orientated but practical sports car, then you might agree that it's time to go back to basics. That's is exactly what Toyota did when back in 2012 it launched what was known in Japan as the 'Hachiroku' model, which translates as 'Eight, Six' in Japanese. We knew it as the GT86.
Four factors governed its development: light weight, modest normally aspirated power, rear wheel drive and narrow tyres. Lap times, the engineers decided, were unimportant. What mattered here was driving enjoyment. You might have forgotten just how much of a heritage affordable Toyota sportscars have in providing that, from the tiny S800 of 1962 to the GT2000 late that decade, the Celica of the '70's and the mid-engined MR2 of the '80's and 90's.
The GT86 has proved to be a worthy successor to those cars, but there's always room for improvement and now it's time for the next chapter in this model line, the GR86. The change of letter designates the development involvement of Toyota's motorsport division Gazoo Racing, the engineers who bought you the GR Supra and the GR Yaris. As with the old GT86, this GR model is been produced as part of a joint venture with Subaru - it's even built at Subaru's Ota plant. This time round, there won't be a Subaru version of this design sold in the UK, which should help Toyota sales of this design, which weren't stellar last time round.