2012 Toyota TRD 86 – 192

December 13th, 2012 by NZPC

With the amount of hype surrounding the release of Toyota and Subaru’s ZN6 platform, known here as the 86, GT86 and TRD 86, we felt as though we already knew the car intimately before we even saw it — its brilliance, all its features and yes, even its downsides. Sitting at the dealership after just being handed a nice new set of 86-emblazoned keys, it was a strange sensation to somehow know a car so well, even though we’d only just opened the door for the first time.

With such high expectations for this car, we were relieved that our first experience was to be behind the wheel of the performance-aimed TRD 86 — the fastest, and at $63,486 — the priciest of the three variants. At over twenty grand more than the base model, the TRD car packs some serious extras, including the bodykit, suspension, 18-inch wheels, exhaust system and our personal favourite, huge — and we mean huge — brakes.

Firing up the TRD 86, we were ready to be impressed. The exhaust barked into life: its four chrome tips produce a nice, menacing growl that is just asking to be revved. Seeing as we were still sitting at the dealership, we refrained and shifted the solid-feeling six-speed box into first, pulling out onto the road. As far as inner-city driving goes, the 86 drives very nicely and feels like any other basic car — so far so good, then. With a set of lights and an empty piece of road ahead, we gave the coupe a bootful of accelerator and, well … nothing much happened. Although we had read about the 86’s lack of go from its 2.0-litre boxer motor many times before, it was still a bit of a surprise to experience just how fast it doesn’t feel. That said, a short squirt down the road does not a real test make, and plans were hatched to head into the hills — the 86’s spiritual home — in the weekend. In the meantime however, we were more than happy to drive around Auckland being looked at by nearly everyone — with the extra body bits, the lower ride height and the forged 18-inch rims, it’s certainly an eye-catcher.

Heading south-east down towards the Coromandel, the TRD 86 was well behaved cruising down the motorway, although it soon became very apparent that the interior is almost too basic for the price of the car. The JDM version of the TRD car utilises awesome lightweight race seats for example, but our version uses the very base-model interior, which feels quite cheap. For the $40k asking price of the base model, that’s great, but when you’re paying $64k, you can’t help but feel as though it’s lacking (you can also choose to build a TRD car based off the higher-specced GT86, which comes in at $68,486). That said, we’ve seen the price list for all the extras — including the nearly $20k retail for the big brakes alone, so the poverty pack interior might be forgiven.

Finally heading into hill country south of Clevedon, it took all of a minute to void all previous complaints about the 86. The car felt anything but slow as we shuffled down through the gears and began to attack corner after corner. With traction control off, the whole car comes alive, smoothly transitioning from one corner to the next with perfect road manners, seemingly regardless of how hard it’s pushed. We’ve never been in a car that allows you to integrate yourself so quickly; you feel as though you’re connected to the 86 and know exactly what it will do at every moment — especially once you come to terms with just how powerful those huge TRD brakes really are.

Although all that ‘Fun Police’ advertising for this car seemed cringeworthy at the time, we can’t help but now feel a little bad for sniggering, and for being disappointed when we first drove the car — after a week spent with the TRD model, we well and truly get it. The Toyota 86 is the epitome of fun, you’ve simply got to experience it amidst its spiritual home to truly understand it. The question, however, is would you be keen to spend the extra money over the base car for this piece of TRD exclusivity? If it were up to us, we would most likely forgo the TRD badge and spend $40,000 on a base model, then use all that money saved to build something exactly as we’d want it — but that’s exactly what the ZN6 is all about. If anything, the TRD 86 simply gave us a taste of how good even a lightly modified 86 can be.

This article is from NZ Performance Car 192. Click here to check it out

Toyota TRD 86 (ZN6) – Specs

ENGINE: 4U-GSE 2000cc four-cylinder boxer, TRD panel filter, TRD oil filter, TRD quad exhaust system  DRIVE: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive  
SUSPENSION: TRD shocks and springs
BRAKES: (F) TRD six-pot calipers, TRD 355mm two-piece rotors, (R) TRD four-pot calipers, TRD 345mm two-piece rotors  
EXTERIOR: Full TRD bodykit, TRD rear diffuser  WHEELS: 18-inch forged TRD rims, 225/40R18 Michelin Sport tyres
PERFORMANCE: 147kW at the flywheel, 1250kg, 0–100 7.6 seconds

Words and Photos: Peter Kelly