I will start by highlighting the obvious, and that is that if you have arrived at this blog post, it is very likely that you are evaluating the idea of buying a Toyota 86 . Well, do it, buy one. It will be difficult for you to regret not having an 86 every time you're on a twisty road or at a track day.
OK, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk details regarding the latest iteration of what can be considered a veteran in the entry-level sports car market - the Toyota 86 (aka a million other names). Our specific 86 is the TRD Special Edition, which features a host of upgrades but we'll get to that in a second. Buying an 86 is a straightforward decision because of its purist ethos and purpose-built nature. So, today we are going to shed some light on what exactly that ethos and purpose are. This blog post is not a formal review, but rather an update on and homage to one of Toyota's legacy sports cars.
When Subaru and Toyota (Scion) joined forces to create a sports car they did it with the idea of creating a very special car, for better or worse. Known as the FT86/GT86 globally, the American-named Scion FR-S, and its twin brother the Subaru BRZ, were cars aimed at a very specific audience. They were niche cars aimed at real gearheads that wanted to wield a real driver's car.
Fast forward almost eight years and you end up with the Toyota 86, a car that has undergone minimal change since the FT/GT's debut in 2011. In its fundamental engineering, the car has remained motoring's Red Pill, of sorts - a reality and truth of what it means to drive. As sacrilegious as it may seem to use a German word to describe a Japanese car, the 2019 TRD Special Edition exemplifies pure fahrvegnügen. It is not a car of chest-compressing acceleration, nor of violent reactions. The 86 is a car that is most enjoyed if you conduct its mechanical symphony through harmonious control and synchronization of chassis, gearbox, brakes and accelerator. Therefore, if you are not willing to work in that way, better not read on.
The 86 TRD Special Edition features SACHS dampers, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires and Brembo brakes. This is likely due to Toyota attempting to meet demand from suspension-crazed owners who, for whatever reason, thought the 86 platform didn't handle well enough already. The motor continues to make 205 horsepower and is mated to a crisp 6-speed manual. The TRD Special Edition also comes with styling upgrades, which indicate its rarity and importance. All 1,418 units come in Raven black, which compliments the TRD graphic and TRD body kit. Toyota hasn't confirmed what kind of effects the body kit will have on aerodynamics but we can assume they're next-to-nothing. As for the interior, Toyota kept with the TRD theme by adding red stitching, a new steering wheel and TRD badging.
While power-focused fans of the 86 might be left pining for a forced-induction version, the TRD Special Edition still manages to improve on perfection. Yes, we get it "It needs more power!" ...says everyone from here to Timbuktu. Then modify yours! With the 86 TRD Special Edition, Toyota has added a mere pinch of spice to an already amazing recipe. We could get into the economics of how/why Toyota refuses to add power to the 86, even in TRD form, but that is beyond the scope of the blog. All we know is that out of the box, the latest and greatest 86 is sublime to drive, even more stylish and more importantly, not much different from when it was first introduced nearly a decade ago.