Toyota has a long tradition of building sports cars that goes back to the 2000GT of the late 1960s and the Supra, which lasted until the early aughts.
Diminished demand for performance cars means this Japanese brand has more recently sought ways to keep its hand in the sporty car business while acknowledging there's less money in the segment than there used to be. That's why Toyota, as we write this, is putting the finished touches on an all-new Supra it developed with BMW as a sort of follow-up to the 86, the sole sports car in its current lineup, on which it collaborated with Subaru.
For 2019, the 86 gains a new TRD Special Edition trim boasting upgraded brakes, suspension dampers, exhaust system and trim-specific 18-inch wheels. It also gets some cosmetic touches, like an exterior aero kit, Raven black paint and a red-stitched interior and red seat belts.
The new trim occupies top spot in the range, above base and GT trims. All three variants use a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that makes 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque with its standard six-speed manual transmission, or 200 hp and 151 lb-ft with an optional six-speed automatic.
In the 86, Toyota has a coupe it can pitch against the likes of the Mini Cooper S and Mazda MX-5. Some might say this one is the best of the bunch, with a combination of rear-drive layout that leaves the front wheels to handle steering and braking duties, and a fixed roof that offers optimal structural strength for accurate handling.
Many have argued the only thing the 86 lacks is a bit more power, but Toyota (or, more specifically, Subaru, which engineered the car's drivetrain) insists 205 hp is either just right or all that's possible without re-engineering the entire car to make room for a larger engine, or turbocharging. What we like about the 86's modest power is that you can drive it enthusiastically without constantly worrying about attracting the attention of the cops.
Base trim comes with 17-inch wheels, 7.0-inch display audio, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, variable intermittent wipers and heated side mirrors.
GT trim adds dual-zone climate control, seats with suede inserts and leather bolster, 4.2-inch information display, passive keyless entry, rear spoiler and LED fog lights.
Toyota's fuel consumption estimates are 11.3/8.3 L/100 km (city/highway) with the manual transmission and 9.9/7.3 with the automatic.