Opinion: The Toyota 86 is one of the greats

The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are great. Could the duo be our man’s favourite car of the past decade?

And so with little fanfare, save for a passing social media post mentioning it, the last Toyota 86’s have been sold. Until they introduce the next one, of course.

The 86’s end follows the withdrawal of the Subaru BRZ from the market last year; they’re the same coupe bar a few badges, colours and, crucially, quite a lot of manufacturer marketing and dealer support. Possibly, although never confirmed, also a slight difference in rear suspension geometry that gave the Subaru marginally less comedic levels of oversteer than the Toyota.

Anyway, I’ve written it before and I will write it again: this is a great (pair of) car(s). Probably my favourite car(s) from the past decade, in fact. There have been ‘better’ cars, it’s true – cars that are faster, more capable, more relaxing, quieter, cleaner and, sure, actually even more fun.

But that’s not quite the point. The 86 weighs 1235kg when full of fuel, 53% weighted to the front; it has a naturally aspirated engine mounted low at the front, a six-speed manual gearbox, a limited-slip differential and rear-wheel drive; and it runs on 215-section tyres.

Even if Toyota and Subaru had screwed up the rest of it, which they didn’t, those factors would still be compelling in a way that, for me, no hot hatchback can be. They’re pure.

Six years ago, I drove 50,000km in 12 months in an 86 as my long-termer and concluded it would be what I would buy if I had a proper job. Next week, I’ll drive one again to see if, nine years after its launch, I still feel the same way. A fitting obituary, then, to come in a few weeks.

Shortly before closing my laptop after work last Friday night (before opening it again because, honestly, what else is there to do?), I was daydreaming about car collections.

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I had been reading about collectors, but none of their warehouses sounded as tastefully filled as mine would be if I had one. Nor yours, obviously.

So I wrote down my fantasy 10-car garage, which changes by the day or hour. I have a friend who keeps these on a note on his phone, right down to the colour, which sounds like a nice idea but is also a full-time job.

I posted my list to Twitter. By Monday, I would have changed half of it, but some 900 people had replied with their own fantasy garages. I put them all into a spreadsheet, because it might almost be scientific research; already I’ve had messages from two car industry figures asking whether they may see it.

Matt Prior

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