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2022 Toyota GR 86 embraces sports car evolution with fresh looks, more power

The Subaru BRZ's twin is finally here, and the new Toyota GR 86 keeps the back-to-basics sports car formula in great shape.

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The new Toyota 86 sports car looks great.

Toyota

We saw the 2022 Subaru BRZ last year, and on Sunday, Toyota debuted its version. Welcome the second-generation Toyota 86 sports car to the world, which bows with more power, edgier looks and the same mission as its predecessor: provide affordable fun for the masses.

Toyota revealed the new sports car, officially known as the GR 86 around the world now, in Japan with partner Subaru showing off the BRZ for the first time locally. While the two wear different wrappers, the 86 is once again largely an identical car to the BRZ. Behind the Toyota Gazoo Racing grille sits a 2.4-liter flat-four engine, sans turbocharger, that makes 230 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. We'll have to wait for US-spec units to see if the GR 86 actually makes a couple more horsepower than the BRZ's 228 hp, or if the kilowatts-to-horsepower conversion is generous. Toyota told Roadshow US-specific information will come in the weeks ahead. Like the BRZ, the 2.4-liter engine replaces the 2.0-liter unit with over 20 more hp and nearly 30 additional lb-ft.

Drivers will once again have the option of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, and both send power to rear tires exclusively, measuring 215/40, just like those on the BRZ. A set of 18-inch wheels are standard. With the manual transmission, a sprint from 0 to 62 mph should take 6.3 seconds -- over 1 second quicker than the outgoing 86 -- and weight only increases by 23 pounds when comparing the new and old cars. 

Here are the two of them side by side. I think the 86 looks better.

Toyota

Roadshow understands the GR 86 was, indeed, delayed under Toyota's direction to differentiate the new coupe more from the Subaru BRZ, and from the sound of it, engineers' goal was to create an even sportier car. The company said Toyota and Subaru engaged in "friendly rivalry" when both teams developed the cars, with the former working to build something a little more raw. It's not entirely different from how the current 86 and BRZ position themselves, with the Subaru version the more "luxurious" of the two, but it sounds like Toyota worked to heighten the sensation, at least on paper. The automaker promises a "distinct" driving feel from its corporate cousin to satisfy the goal of attainable performance.

Body rigidity is up 50% over the old GR 86, while the use of aluminum for the roof panels helps keep the low center of gravity a focal point. Aluminum also makes its way to fenders to help keep the curb weight down. New seats and a revised mufflers also contribute to the minimal weight increase. Meanwhile, functional aerodynamic pieces trickle down from Gazoo Racing motorsport campaigns. The extra weight present likely comes from the fact the new GR 86 bundles Subaru's EyeSight suite of driver-assist technology. The whole kit and caboodle comes along for the ride this time.

Speaking of kit, the cabin remains a driver-focused area, and like the BRZ, gains a new 7-inch display. The cockpits are identical to my eyes, when comparing the photos, but materials in the outgoing 86 are pretty good for the price, and hopefully, the 2022 86 keeps it up. When drivers climb in, Toyota says a nifty animation sequence fires up with inspiration from the car's boxer engine, too.

The current 86 absolutely embodies the joys of a "slow-car-fast" driving experience, and we're pretty stoked to get behind the wheel of this new one. So far, evolutionary changes seem to carry the 2022 GR 86, but you know what they say, don't fix what isn't broken. The new car goes on sale in Japan this fall, and a US launch shouldn't be too far behind.