Hooray, it’s nearly the weekend, which for some of us means work is switched for well-earned play. And cinch, being all about faff free online car buying, wants to help make that play as fun as possible, by offering up regular suggestions for a set of weekend wheels. To kick things off this week, we’ve picked one of the best-handling cars – and therefore one of the most fun – money can buy, regardless of price or segment. Say hello to the sleek, rear-wheel-drive and fully fun-focused Toyota GT86.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. It’s a Toyota. Toyota’s are sensible cars for the shrewd, economical buyer. And yes, in many cases that’s true, but this Japanese car maker found its fun car mojo again in the last decade and now, it’s a maker of several of the market’s most enjoyable cars. With the newly formed Gazoo Racing performance division (equivalent to, say, Renault Sport) producing the GR Yaris and GR Supra, Toyota’s line-up has some seriously hot contenders worthy of your weekend playtime.
Even with such compelling company in the family, the GT86 remains a real heartthrob when it comes to pure driving enjoyment. Developed in a joint partnership with Subaru (which spawned its take on the platform, the BRZ, at the same time) the GT86 is an old school sports car with Toyota reliability built into its panels. It has respectable on-paper figures to boot, including a 200hp peak output, a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. Not that you could ever explore that on the road. Let’s just say there’s enough in the tank to keep you entertained.
This is a properly special car, technically speaking, too. Using a 2.0-litre engine of boxer configuration (car nerds will know the name is a nod to the engine’s pistons, which move back-and-forth on a horizontal plane, mimicking the hands of a boxer) means the GT86’s powerplant can be flatter and therefore mounted lower under the bonnet. The advantage of that is a lower centre of gravity, which is good when it comes to handling because it’s essentially the opposite of a car being top-heavy. Top-heavy is bad in a sports car; it’s like dancing with a lead hat on. As such, all the best sports and supercars have a low centre of gravity; it’s for the same physics-based reason that Grand Prix drivers sit so low in their somewhat faster F1 cars.
So, when it comes to the GT86, it packs decent power and it handles great. But what really seals the deal, as far as potential weekend fun goes, is the engagement it offers to a driver. This isn’t a car that does all the hard work for you. With three pedals and a six-speed manual gearbox, an engine that works without a turbocharger (so it needs to be revved hard to achieve its best) and skinny, eco-focused tyres offering just the right amount of grip, the GT86 goes around corners like a footballer sprinting on their tippy toes. The car feels, well, alive. Suffice to say a country drive in one is the perfect antidote to a long week’s work.
Of course, some people will prefer the more effortless power delivery of something like a sporting Audi TT, while others will like their cars to have a technically-impressive automatic to handle the gear changes, like a BMW Z4. But for those who like to unwind on the weekend while doing that hands and feet dance that manual sports car owners often do, the GT86 is a tremendous option.
Such attributes are normally attached to a car in a high-end segment, but when it comes to Toyota’s two-door, 2+2 sports car (2+2 referring to its two adult-sized front seats and two kid-sized rear seats), they’re all there by the bag load. And it offers supreme value for money. The four-year-old car we’ve nominated for your attention here is fine example at £22,450, but in truth, every GT86 to have graced cinch will provide the same thrills. The Friday feeling would be quite enormous with the keys to one of these in your pocket.