Remember back when Toyota sold really cool sports cars like the MR2 and the Supra? While the next-gen Supra is expected soon and rumors of an MR2 successor are circulating anew, if you want to buy a sporty Toyota today you have one choice: The 86.
Twin to Subaru's BRZ, this rear-wheel-drive coupe was last seen as the Scion FR-S, but recently migrated to parent brand Toyota when Scion was shuttered. It's always been a young person's car, with a driving-focused attitude highlighted by a pretty basic cabin. Starting at the end of March, though, Toyota will offer a special edition trim that's just a touch more fancy.
Dubbed the 86 860 Special Edition, the model will be available in Supernova Orange with black racing stripes or Halo White. Just 860 units of each color will be produced. The trim keeps the same naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder pumping out 205 horsepower when equipped with a six-speed manual. If you opt for the six-speed automatic, you'll drop down to 200 horsepower, so do yourself a favor and opt for the stick shift.
While I didn't get to drive the Special Edition following the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota did provide some some time in the European-spec 86, which already has many of the same features, including a rear wing, LED fog lights and 17-inch wheels.
At only 156 pound-feet of torque in the manual, I've always felt the 86 is low on power. That feeling was reconfirmed on my two-day drive from Geneva, Switzerland to Munich, Germany. The car can really sing with its quick steering ratio and a stiff chassis that begs to be tossed around, but getting up to speed can take a while, especially at higher elevations. It's best to keep the revs high and your foot firmly planted, and you'd better like playing the momentum game.
Toyota's 86 860 Special Edition promises pure driving pleasureSee all photos
Once you're at speed, though, this coupe is highly entertaining to drive, and it doesn't take a mountain pass to show you the fun. Coming into Munich on a derestricted stretch of Autobahn, I risked a quick glance at my speedometer and saw 220 km/h -- roughly 136 mph. There was probably a bit more speed to be had, but the car felt a little light on its feet. I wasn't willing to risk any more. Besides, top-speed runs have never been what this car is about.
Inside the 860 Special Edition, buyers will be treated to a dark interior with contrasting orange stitching, heated leather seats, push-button start, dual-zone HVAC and a new 4.2-inch TFT screen in the gauge cluster. Here you can scroll through a g-force display, stopwatch, horsepower and torque curves, as well as engine vitals and fuel efficiency data. These features are definitely welcome additions, but the 86's interior still feels a bit dated.
The Toyota 86 860 Special Edition hits US dealers later this month. Expect to pay $29,155 for the manual transmission, or $29,875 for the automatic.