Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ

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Toyota 86 GT (2012-15) $27,800-$32,300
Toyota 86 GTS (2012-15) $32,500-$38,700
Subaru BRZ (2012-15) $32,400-$38,700
Subaru BRZ S (2013-14) $42,500-$44,600
Subaru BRZ SE (2014-15) $41,100-$42,100
Approximate Glass’s Guide prices.

The Toyota 86 coupe and its twin the Subaru BRZ generated plenty of excitement when they hit the Australian market in mid-2012. In the affordable sport car field, these coupes’ blend of smart-looking, modern 2 dr styling and a classic front engine/rear-wheel-drive layout proved to be an instant hit.

On the used market, their appealing attributes remain just as strong.

The 86 and BRZ are the products of a joint venture between Toyota and Subaru, and are fundamentally the same. The Subaru influence is prominent in the design and build but both companies have had valuable input. Mechanically, Subaru’s 2.0L naturally aspirated flat-four Boxer engine is fed by Toyota’s sophisticated D-4S direct fuel injection system. The transmission work was done by Toyota, while the suspension is developed from the Subaru WRX STi.

When released, Toyota offered two grades, the base model GT coupe and a better-equipped GTS coupe, while Subaru’s only version sat between the two Toyotas on equipment and price. Each was well kitted with safety features and has a five-star ANCAP safety rating. Standard equipment levels for all models were substantially increased in mid-2013 and again in mid-2014. With the 2013 update Subaru also added a special edition, basic BRZ S version that only sold for about six months. Unusually for these days, the manuals outnumber automatics, as the slick shifting, 6spd manual is more in keeping with the car’s involving fun-to-drive sporting nature.

The Toyota versions, however, dominated sales and currently on the used market you will find there are over twice as many 86s advertised than BRZs.

On the road, the 86 and BRZ revive all the virtues of a classic sports car and deliver them in an excitingly fresh, modern manner. The flat-four naturally aspired engine with maximum 147kW on tap provides good 2.0L performance and respectable fuel economy, though premium grade 98 RON petrol is required. There are quicker cars on the market but dynamically few work as well as a total package or can match the involving nature that makes the 86/BRZ a true driver’s car.

It’s a beautifully balanced package that proves a sports car doesn’t need to be big, powerful or exceptionally fast to be entertaining and enjoyable.

Being sports focused coupes there are compromises, but that is the nature of the beast rather than a criticism of the particular vehicle.

Due to the image and ability of these vehicles there is potentially a massive difference between the best and worst – both in the way they have been used and their condition. Some will have been pushed to the max and others treated as carefully as a newborn. Be wary of a car with evidence of a roll-cage and engine or suspension modifications as these are a good indication it has been used in a competitive manner for club events etc. Uneven tyre wear, or low tread and excessive brake wear for the number of kilometres on the clock can also be good indicators that a car has been thrashed. Look for signs of accident damage and poor quality repairs.

Written by Greg Hill
September 02, 2015