By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – Toyota has retrofitted its GR 86. For the uninitiated, this is a world class 2+2 sports car.
That may sound strange in a utility vehicle world, but the automaker is looking for incremental sales; perhaps as many as 13,000 annually.
And they did this the only acceptable way with sports cars. Improvements were incremental.
The engine was bumped up from 2.0-liters to 2.4 liters. That gave the 2022 GR 86 18 percent more horsepower and 11 percent more torque. That is 284 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
The GR 86 keeps its horizontally opposed four cylinder or boxer engine; but engineers also tweaked the engine so that torque comes far earlier in the power curve, at 3,700 rpm versus 6,000 rpm on the previous model.
The bore was increased to 94 mm from 86 mm for 20 percent more displacement. That bumped the engine up from 1,998 cc to 2,387 cc. Doesn’t sound like much but it translates into a better zero to 60 time from 7.0 to 6.1 seconds for the manual. Almost a second faster and that is significant. For the automatic the reduction was even more, it was 8.0 to 6.6 seconds.
The manual gets an estimated 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined. The numbers for the automatic are 20 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.
The smallest details of the GR 86 had been reengineered to handle the increase in power. They were more direct in a presentation on 2022 GR 86. “Everything has been improved to accommodate the increased power,” we were told.
Heck, the intake manifold’s port diameter and length were enlarged to support linear torque and acceleration and the air intake was redesigned to increase airflow.
And on it went, a larger exhaust center pipe for more growl, a high-speed water pump, a five-level water-cooled oil cooler, and a high-capacity radiator output motor.
They used more high strength steel, they added diagonal crossmembers to the joints between the front suspension and frame, reducing lateral bend. Additional rigidity was added to the rear by using a new full ring structure that tied the upper and lower chassis together and more were all a part of the GR 86’s refit.
Consumers will still have a choice of a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The manual weighed 2,811 lbs., while the six-speed automatic tipped the scale 2,851 lbs.
We arrived at the place that all these improvements were meant for, the Monticello Motor Club, a 4.1-mile-long twisting curving raceway. They only had the South portion of the track open at first. We took a manual transmission GR 86 premium around the raceway. And even though we drove gingerly, we sensed the GR had great balance and there was no tire squealing.
Next up was an automatic transmission version of the car that the new GR 86 will replace when it goes on sale in November. Anyway, this car was not as steady on the track. There was a little fishtailing and certainly a lot of leaning in the curves.
For comparison we took a 2022 GR 86 with an automatic transmission, and it was like night and day. There just wasn’t any comparison between the cars. The new GR was steady on the track, certainly it was quicker, didn’t lean in the curves and it was more precise in answering driver input. Plainly put, it was a much better race car.
But the GR 86 is intended to be an everyday driver as well. Admittedly, the rolling two lane rural roads around here weren’t much of a challenge. But the car seemed at home on these streets.
We would love to get it in our world where there is traffic, streetlights, angry drivers, and the rest and evaluate how it handles itself.
Since it is meant to be both race car and everyday driver, the 2022 GR 86 had all the expected creature comforts and driver assists that you’d expect.
It had LED lights all round. There was a touch infotainment screen, satellite radio, voice controls, pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, vehicle start assist, track mode and smart stop technology were among safety attributes.
There is a subscription package that includes engine starter, advance climate controls, vehicle locator, remote lock and unlock, hazard lights, diagnostic alert, and monthly vehicle health reports.
And normal factory-scheduled maintenance is provided at no additional cost for two years.
Prices had not been finalized during our test drive, but Toyota assured us that the 2022 GR 86 would start at less than $30K. Even if that turns out to be $29,999, it is a decent price for a sports car that is way more than decent.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com