The day the newswires lit up with details of the new back-to-basics sports car from Toyota was the day I wanted to own one. I’d been so disheartened with the state of the automotive industry and the type of cars it was making for so many years, I’d all but switched off. Driven by marketing departments rather than engineering, everything is the same – the same chassis set-up, the same drivetrain, the same materials, the same boring approach wrapped up in a different dress. The legal department has tweaked all the fun out of motoring and the rising cost of fuel was making it all but impossible for a driver to enjoy himself anymore. That is, unless you had the wherewithal to splash your cash on an uber-toy for the weekend and put up with mundane motoring during the week.
The Toyota 86 is a breath of fresh air in the industry. It’s not a mass audience car, but every brand should look at it closely. Why, you ask? The Toyota 86 is tiny; properly dinky compared to the humdrum machines out on the street. Cars are just too vast these days. With the ever present pressure of running costs, why then are the cars getting bigger and heavier? To offer product and technology the marketing teams believe the owners need? Yeah, possibly.
Not only that, the 86 offers the prospective owner something special. Something intangible. The fun factor. It is a pared-down car, lightweight, missing all the usual luxuries and extras. It’s designed to be a giggle and bring back the ‘sport’ into the sports car. It isn’t overly grippy or over powered and won’t throw you into the countryside if and when you get it wrong.
Or will it?
I’ll continue to wax lyrical about the little Toyota, but I have a problem with it. This is a car that I spent my own hard earned cash on here. I itched to get my hands on it and even rejigged the family fleet to own one. But I fear that the 86 will be the end of me.
In recent years, the horsepower war among sports car manufacturers has led many to proclaim that modern cars now have too much power to be usable on the road. You can’t fully utilise 600bhp on public streets, no matter who you are. I fully agree, as did Toyota. But by giving me usable power, Toyota has effectively given me a weapon. One that needs grabbing by the scruff of the neck and driven like it’s your last drive home. Every day. The lack of torque is the issue generator here. You have to rev it out to get anywhere and from there, the car is just so special that I find myself with my visor down and playing Ridge Racer in real life. The tyres, designed for letting the car move around, generate another problem. A sideways problem. Add in the speed element and the desire to get the car sliding around all over the place and you have the receipe for disaster.
I’ve been there; regularly. Even on the mundane shlep to work, I’ve been curve hunting. Every day is a challenge to push the car to the limit yet everyday is pulling me closer and closer to imminent disaster. Losing the car on the limit and facing the wrong way up the road is a not a cool place to be at 7.05am on a Sunday morning.
I’m not going to lay any blame on the car here. This is all about me. That addictive personality that breads continual desire can also lead to issues. All I want it to nail that line, keep it pinned through my favourite corner, let it all hang out around my favourite on ramp. Not at 30kph I might add.
Dare I say it, I think I need something boring back in my life.