Toyota GR86 Review & Prices

The Toyota GR86 is an extremely fun little sports car to take on a twisty road, but it’s noisy on the motorway and its interior feels pretty dated

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£36,490
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2024
Pleasure Of Driving Award
wowscore
9/10
Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Seriously fun to drive
  • Looks fantastic
  • Exciting engine

What's not so good

  • Outdated interior
  • Very noisy at a cruise
  • Not a very practical car

Find out more about the Toyota GR86

Is the Toyota GR86 a good car?

If you’re an enthusiast looking for a proper old-school sports car, the Toyota GR86 may be on your shopping list. There aren’t many cars like this around these days, but if the Mazda MX-5 feels a bit too cliche for you, then the GR86 might well be right up your alley. It's a worthy winner of the Driving for Pleasure Award at the 2024 Carwow Car of the Year Awards.

If modern sports cars are like music streaming services, the GR86 is akin to a vinyl record player. Many others aim to provide pure speed and handling with high-end tech, but the GR86 relies on delivering a raw, back-to-basics experience.

That said, it looks remarkably modern from the outside. It retains the same side profile as the old GT86 but gets a total redesign both front and rear. In short, it looks properly cool.

However, it’s a different story on the inside. If you’ve spent time behind the wheel of the GT86, the Toyota GR86 will be like coming home – perhaps to a fault. Everything’s laid out identically, though the climate buttons do get a bit of a refresh. Even so, it looks old-fashioned.

The supportive seats are carried over too, as are the steering wheel and the buttons within. The wheel itself feels great, but its controls are a little bit clumsy and awkward to use while you’re on the move.

You could say the same for the infotainment system: it’s a super-basic 8.0-inch system with very few functions. However, it does at least support Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and you’ll likely find you use those almost by default.

There’s a pair of seats crammed into the back of the GR86, but they’re useless beyond carrying baby seats or a small animal at best. They do at least provide a bit of additional storage space, though.

If you ironed out a Toyota GT86, you’d get the GR86. It improves on the old car without losing any of the original’s charm

As for the boot, you’ve got 226 litres to work with. That’s 11 litres less than the old GT86 offered, but still eclipses the Mazda MX-5’s 130 litres.

Really though, if you’re buying a Toyota GR86, you’re most likely interested in what’s happening under the surface. It uses a 2.4-litre petrol engine that produces 234hp and 250Nm of torque, and still sends power to the rear wheels.

Go for the manual (there’s an auto option, but you should avoid it) and it’ll crack 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds and go on to a 140mph top speed.

Though the increased figures are good on paper, what’s even more impressive is the improvement in power delivery. This new GR86 accelerates far more smoothly than the old car, which makes it much easier to drive quickly. Still, you don’t lose out on any of its character or charm – and it’s got both in spades.

It’s a similar story with the handling, too. Like the GT86, the GR86 is quite a playful thing, and will happily skid about if you want it to. It’s close to low-cost sports car perfection, but it’s let down slightly by a noisy cabin at motorway speeds. Limited visibility and heavy steering don’t do it too many favours around town, either.

If you’re looking to buy a Toyota GR86, you’re out of luck. The UK’s full allocation of the car sold out before any even turned a wheel, and there’s unlikely to be any more coming.

For great deals on Toyota’s other models, check out the deals page for the latest offers, or have a look at our used Toyotas, where you may be lucky enough to find a used GR86. And when you’ve found your next car, Carwow can help you sell your current car.

How much is the Toyota GR86?

The price of a used Toyota GR86 on Carwow starts at £36,490.

Honestly? It doesn’t really matter how much the Toyota GR86 costs, as they’re all sold out. In fact, the GR86’s UK allocation – fewer than 500 cars – sold out in just 90 minutes when the model was first put on sale in 2022. For the record, the GR86 cost £29,995 for the version with the manual gearbox and £32,085 for the automatic when you could buy one. How much for one now? You’ll have to find one first…

Being as you can’t actually buy a new GR86 now, it behoves us to have a look at what else you could buy. The closest car in conceptual terms to the Toyota is Mazda’s ever-lovely MX-5, which comes with a lower price tag, but which is also slower and slightly less practical. Great fun to drive, though. You could blow the budget up a bit and get a BMW 2 Series Coupe, but even a basic 220i is over £5,000 more expensive than a GR86, although it’s massively good fun to drive and a little more practical than the Toyota. A Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe is way pricier than that (another £15,000 on top…) but you could make a half-hearted argument that the relatively affordable four-door CLA (which isn’t really a coupe) would do instead.

The Audi TT is still on sale, for now. Like the BMW 2 Series it’s about £5,000 more expensive than a GR86, and it has a similarly sporty-but-just-about-practical-enough feel to it. There is an argument that the 2.0-litre version of the Toyota Supra is as close as you can get, now, to the GR86 but it’s closer in price to the E-Class Coupe and so is hardly a direct replacement. At least you can buy one, though…

Performance and drive comfort

The GR86 is surprisingly comfy and well-sorted around town, rubbish on the motorway where it just gets too noisy, but on a twisty road, though, it comes into its own

In town

The view out of the GR86’s windscreen is brilliant. That low-slung flat-four engine means you get a low bonnet and therefore a low dashboard, which means you can see out properly. Even though you sit low down in the car, you can see well and things like the rear-view mirror and the touchscreen – which is mounted down low in the dash – don’t get in your way. The shallow-angled rear window hides the view out the back a little, but it’s not too bad.

There is a reversing camera, but the lens has no washer so it gets easily coated in road grime. Even the turning circle is good – 10.8-metres – which is only slightly more than an average hatchback, although the littler MX-5 turns even tighter than that.

The brakes are strong, and the pedal has good feel so there’s no snatching and sudden stopping at low speeds, but they also work really well if you have to stomp hard on the pedal. You could, if you spend a lot of time in town, consider an automatic GR86 but NO! That is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. You can’t buy a car like the GR86 and get an auto – that’s sacrilege. Half the joy of this car is changing gear manually, and around town the clutch pedal isn’t too firm and the gearchange – at all times – is glorious. A shame that the horn isn’t – like Toyota’s GR Yaris, the horn gives off a polite, easily-ignored ‘toot.’

Although the GR86 is a sports car, and therefore has firm suspension, but it’s firm rather than hard and it’s never uncomfortable around town, easily dealing with the usual bumps and manhole covers. The fact that the GR86 is quite light at 1,276kg helps enormously in that regard. Heavier cars need stiffer springs…

On the motorway

There’s a downside to the lightness, in that much of the weight saved was in sound-deadening, so on the motorway, you’ll be somewhat deafened by the tyre roar and road noise that booms around the cabin. You’ll not only have to turn the stereo up to hear anything, you’ll also need to bellow like Brian Blessed to make yourself heard on a hands-free phone call. It’s quite tiring.

One major weakness of the old GT86 coupe was that its flat-four engine was gutless at low speeds in high gears – it just didn’t have enough torque. The GR86 gets much more, 250Nm in total, which isn’t loads, but it makes the 40-70-mph run in fourth gear a lot more relaxing. You still have to rev it to get the most out of it, but it’s fine. That said, if you do loads of motorway miles and still want a sporty car, a BMW 2 Series, with its turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, might be a better choice.

Irritatingly, the manual version – the one you want – comes only with basic on/off cruise control but the automatic GR86 – the one you don’t want – gets radar-guided cruise and lane-keeping steering.

On a twisty road

Even driving slowly around town, you can sense that the GR86’s control – the steering, the gearshift, the pedals, the way the suspension reacts, are all beautifully set up and responsive. Which will make you want to get out onto a quiet road.

Put the GR86 through a series of challenging corners and it’s just so *sweary word* awesome. It’s better than the old GT86 — no slouch of a car — because the GR’s extra power makes a difference. The whole car feels more responsive and adjustable because you’re not always waiting for power to build up. You don’t have to rev it quite as hard — although it sounds good when you do — and the mid-range punch gives you more control as you can send more power to the back more quickly to control any slides when the road is slippery.

It probably helps that Toyota has upgraded the GR86’s tyres to Michelin Pilots — the old GT86 used the same hard, low-rolling resistance tyres as a Prius, to make it easier to slide. The more powerful GR86 needs no such help, and the tyres really sharpen up the handling.

The GR86 uses the same basic chassis as the old GT86, but the suspension has been massively upgraded and it gets stiffer front and rear anti-roll bars. Speaking of stiffness, Toyota has also stiffened up the body with extra adhesive and welds, while the bonnet and roof are now made of aluminium to keep the weight down.

The gear change — and you can insert your own rifle-bolt cliché here if you must — comes alive on the open road, and the pedals are close enough together for you to be able to heel and toe. This is just as well as unlike the GR Yaris, there’s no auto-blip function for sporty down-shifts. While the GR86 is rear-wheel drive, even on sopping wet British roads, it’s very sure-footed and stable, and the lack of a turbocharger actually helps on wet days because the power comes in more progressively.

The GR86 basically delivers everything you want from a traditional sports car — engine at the front, drive to the rear wheels, a limited-slip differential for extra control — but it’s still a Toyota so it’s not overly-compromised for day-to-day driving and you know it’ll probably be reliable. If you can figure out a way to get hold of one, do it. You won’t regret it.

Space and practicality

The GR86 is practical from a certain point of view – when you compare it to a Mazda MX-5. From most other points of view, it’s pretty short on space

The GR86 has a low and very comfortable driving position and there’s just about enough adjustment in the steering wheel to allow lots of different sizes of driver to get set right. The glovebox on the GR86 is 25% bigger than it was in the GT86, so we guess that’s a lot of extra gloves you can store.

You get reasonably sized door bins, and there’s a lidded storage bin between the front seats, but it’s not the biggest and the cupholders are — annoyingly — in there, so you’ll end up knocking your drinks over with your gear-changing elbow. Space in the front is good enough for two people, but this is a focused sports car so don’t go expecting stretching-out room.

Space in the back seats

Technically, the GR86 is a four-seater, but getting into the back seats is a terrible faff.

The front seats don’t automatically slide forward when you tilt the seatbacks, you have to do that separately, so they won’t return to their original position. Even when you do slide them forward and tilt the backs, it’s a very narrow gap to squeeze through to get in the back. You’ll have to go face-first and climb in like entering a tunnel at the playground.

It’s not worth it, though, as if there’s someone, anyone, sat in the front seats there is essentially no rear legroom at all, and your head will be crammed up against either the ceiling or even the rear glass. You can technically fit a child seat in the back as there are ISOFIX points, but it’s tricky to get them clicked in, and you have to have the passenger seat pushed way forward. The rear seats are really more upholstered luggage areas, in true 2+2 coupe tradition. Don’t think of this as a practical car, because it ain’t.

Boot space

The boot has a small and fiddly button to release the catch, and when you do there’s only 226 litres of boot volume. That’s about half what a BMW 2 Series Coupe can provide, but it is bigger — again, almost twice the capacity — of an MX-5. So it’s either uselessly compromised or actually OK, depending on your point of view. You can fold down the back seats too, and at that point the GR86 becomes surprisingly useful. You can even get a Christmas tree in there.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are welcome, in what is an otherwise pretty dated cabin

When you fire up the GR86, the GR badge in the main digital dial spins around, while the lights on either side swoosh in and out — just like the pistons in the flat-four ‘Boxer’ engine. It’s a nice, geeky touch. You get some specific performance displays on that digital dash, and when you put it into track mode the whole layout changes to a dedicated sporty display, with the rev counter bigger and in the centre.

The touchscreen in the centre is OK, but no more than that, and there’s no standard sat-nav but you’ll likely not be too bothered and just connect your phone via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay anyway. The layout of the cabin is basic and driver-focused, as it should be. There are some nice high-quality touches — such as suede-like material on the door tops and excellent body-hugging seats — but there’s also slightly too much in the way of cheap black plastic around.

The controls are well-sited though, and the heating and air conditioning system gets nice round knobs and toggle switches, which remind you ever so slightly of those in an Audi TT. Although, the TT’s cabin is way, way nicer than this it must be said. But at least Toyota gives you a proper manual handbrake.

MPG, emissions and tax

The 2.4-litre ‘Boxer’ flat-four engine – designed for Toyota by Subaru and used in its own version of the GR86, the BR-Z (which is no longer sold in the UK) – gets an extra 400cc over its predecessor, bringing power up to 234hp with 250Nm of torque. The old GT86 had only 205Nm.

Toyota reckons you’ll get 32mpg out of it on average, and you should do a bit better than that if you’re driving gently on a long-haul run. Rag it like you want to, though, and you’re probably looking at little better than 25mpg, if that.

Emissions are high — 200g/km of CO2 for the manual version, and 199g/km for the automatic, which means you’ll pay a high amount in year one Vehicle Excise Duty, although at least the GR86’s price tag means you avoid the extra levy on cars costing more than £40,000 in years two to five.

Safety & security

The GR86 gets an immobiliser and remote central locking, but given that this is a highly desirable sports car that’s in short supply (indeed, no supply at all at the moment) you’d be well-advised to take extra security precautions, such as fitting a steering lock or a driveway post.

The GR86 hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP so we can’t tell you how safe it is, but it does come as standard with stability control, traction control, multiple airbags, ISOFIX in the back seats, cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, a reversing camera, a blind spot monitor, and tyre pressure monitoring. Annoyingly, though, only the automatic version gets radar cruise control, lane-keeping steering, and collision warning, as well as automatic high-beam. Why can’t all that stuff be fitted to the more desirable manual version?

Reliability and problems

Toyota has an incredibly good reputation for reliability, and so too does Subaru, which was intimately involved in the design and engineering of this car, so the omens are good for how well it will last. There have been some stories of issues with the engine’s oil system, but so far there are no reports of actual engine failures.

Speaking of which, The GR86 comes with a standard three-year warranty, but if you keep it serviced at a main Toyota dealer, that warranty rolls over for an extra year and an additional 10,000 miles at each service, up to a maximum of ten years and 100,000 miles. So it really has a ten year warranty if you stick to the terms and conditions.

The GR86 has had one recall, for a software issue in the emergency phone call system.

Buy or lease the Toyota GR86 at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
Carwow price from
Used
£36,490
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare used deals