Road Test Review – 2022 Toyota GR86 Premium (Manual) – Track Focused Coupe Provides Budget Friendly Fun

The Toyota Supra is easily one of the most seductive performance cars on the market today. Its show car styling blends with German underpinnings to create a potent track weapon. However, not everyone can afford the high price tag, so what if you’re an enthusiast who wants a good two-door coupe but has a decidedly smaller wallet to work with? Toyota thinks it has the answer with the updated 2022 GR86, but have the revisions Toyota made helped it become the perfect bargain track day toy?


GR86 Makes Revisions In All The Right Places

The GR86’s architecture is largely carried over from the old car, but that didn’t stop Toyota stylists from making this slick two-door even more eye-pleasing to look at. The front fascia has been reworked, and it now features a bigger front grille and revised headlights for a meaner yet more mature look. The sloping roofline leads to the car’s rear, which now receives updated taillights and a tasteful rear trunk-mounted spoiler.

The rest of the styling is largely carried over from its cousin, the equally overhauled Subaru BRZ, but that’s fine with us since it also hides some of the strengthening that engineers made to the car’s structure. The styling also hides a higher percentage of aluminum components, with the existing aluminum hood now being joined by an aluminum roof and fenders to help shed some of the weight that was added by the enhanced structural components. The styling also works well with certain colors, and w recommend hues like blue, black, or even the red hue on our tester to help make things pop more.


Purposeful GR86 Interior Pitches Frills For No Nonsense Functionality

Slip inside the GR86, and you’ll immediately discover that the cabin is all about the art of driving, with many luxuries and frills being omitted for the sake of functionality. Occupants still get a slick Subaru-sourced touchscreen infotainment system, but dials and switches are only limited to the essentials, with the sport-focused seats doing a good job firmly holding you in place during spirited driving. Like before, the backseats are a proverbial afterthought and are best left to serve as a parcel shelf or folded down to maximize the rear cargo room. Visibility out the windows is good, but the rear window is small, and it can make some passing maneuvers a chore.

The cabin also reflects the GR86’s price point, and while Toyota reps claim that there is a higher amount of soft plastics in key touchpoints, you’ll also still see some chintzy plastic, especially in the center tunnel area. To save weight, Toyota minimized the use of extensive sound deadening, which makes owners have a rather noisy experience out on the freeway where tire and wind noise easily overpower the puny stereo and can occasionally make conversations difficult to have when embarking on long freeway jaunts. The cramped interior also is a far cry from four-cylinder Ford Mustang models, but it’s important to remember that Ford’s pony car is more expensive than the GR86 in many configurations.


GR86’s Performance Is Better Than Ever

A key change for the 2022 model year is that the old 2.0-liter flat-four cylinder has been bored out and is now a bigger 2.4-liter unit that produces 228 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque which is a noticeable bump up from the old 200 and 205 hp that once defined the car. The new engine makes 184 lb-ft of torque, which is now available much lower in the rev band, with the full oomph kicking in at 3700 rpm. This helped make our manual-equipped example easier, but the clutch is still vague (a typical trait of Subaru manual boxes), and it takes some practice to row through the gears without shuddering.

Our tester managed to make the sprint to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, with the engine delivering a more assertive performance, especially when allowed to roam within its comfort zone. This is largely identical to what its sibling, the Subaru BRZ, can achieve, and like its twin, the engine benefits from a special speaker that pumps in extra digital engine noise to enhance the sound slightly. An optional six-speed automatic adds steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a built-in Sport mode. Handling in our tester was go-kart precise, but like a go-kart, Michigan potholes and ruts will make their presence felt.

Higher trims also benefit from enhanced safety equipment, including a whole suite of features that are controlled by Subaru’s EyeSight system and its dual cameras. We will have a chance to see how EyeSight does in long-term use when my wife Emily takes delivery of her 2023 Subaru Impreza early next year. In the meantime, these revisions help the duo be better competition to four-cylinder versions of the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang as well as the Honda Civic Si.


Value Quotient:

Pricing for the 2022 Toyota GR86 starts at $28,635 for a base model and $31,325 for luxury-focused Premium models like our example. Premium trim is where the bulk of the GR86’s sporty character comes into play, with aluminum pedals, a ducktail spoiler, and heated leather and suede seats being the key giveaways. Base models are more function focused and ditch the extras for simple sport seats and black plastic accents. Regardless of which model you get, Toyota will give buyers  one year of complimentary membership to the National Auto Sport Association and one free performance driving class too. While it will be interesting to see how the 2022 Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ fare as the broader market moves to electrification over the next few years, look for them to still deliver the goods on gold old fashioned affordable fun.