Used Toyota GT86 Review (2012-2021) MK1

Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force

4-minute read

Red Toyota GT86

Toyota GT86 (2012-2021)

Designed with innovative technology to provide a sports car experience, the Toyota GT86 is adventurous without compromising on comfort

Search Used Toyota GT86


  • Beautiful design
  • Great handling
  • Versatile
  • Shaky on uneven surfaces
  • Limited cabin storage
  • Expensive to maintain
Search Used Toyota GT86

What's the Toyota GT86 like?

Just about every petrol or diesel car on the market for the last ten years has been powered by a turbocharged engine as manufacturers aim for lower emissions without having to curtail power.

The best turbo petrol engines pull from low revs with gusto, despite almost invariably being smaller capacity than those they replaced.

And people who have grown up with the best of these don’t realize what a high power non-turbo engine can do.

They compare turbo and naturally aspirated cars, and say a turbo gives 50 per cent more power.

That may be true, but for petrolheads like me, most turbos don’t offer the same pure driving experience.

Take the marvellous Toyota GT86 for example, a superb and scintillating smaller coupe with a 2.0-litre engine, and not a turbo in sight.


I'd rather drive this brilliant performer than most turbocharged GTIs. They can squeeze up to 300bhp from 2.0-litre engine while this beautiful coupé gets 197bhp, but it delights the senses in a way few turbos can match.

Also, they're almost universally front-wheel drive, while the Toyota takes the power to the rear wheels in traditional sports car style.

The engine is a gem, revving to well over 7,000rpm before it hits the redline. It reminded me of the first front-wheel drive Honda Civic Type R, and of the rear-wheel drive Toyota GT Coupé from the 1980s, both of which revved to the same high level - and not a turbo in sight.

The performance is fantastic - as long as you keep it in the power band between 4,000 and 7,400 revs

Let it drop lower and there's still plenty of urge, even though a turbo might have more. Most turbos, however, run out of steam much sooner.

Not only does the GT86 rev beautifully, it sounds superb too, always a plus for a petrolhead like me, or anyone who loves cars and driving.

Standard fitting is a 6-speed manual box with a delightful, short and slick shifting change that sits right under your hand.

But there is also an excellent 6-speed automatic that does everything just about as well as the manual, with paddles behind the wheel for manual changes, and a sport setting that’s even better.

Top speed, academic though it may be, is 130mph, and the 0 to 62mph sprint takes 7.4 seconds. Economy for such a sporting car is also good, with a best of 39mpg.

Driving Experience

The roadholding is sublime, with amazing levels of grip, and marvellous point and shoot steering.
Peter Hayward

The driving position is low and cosseting, with bucket seats that hold in all the right places, and this too helps the handling.

On good and decent surfaces the ride is, unusually for such a car, pretty comfortable, helped by wheels that are quite small by today’s standards, allowing more compliance in the excellent suspension system.

But it does shake around on poor surfaces at speed, which is no more than I would expect in such a car.

Interior and Equipment

Equipment in Standard trim includes cruise control, sports seats, traction control, loads of airbags, alarm, alloy wheels and a good stereo system.

Extras will probably have been added by the original owner, and they could include audio remote, sat nav and heated leather seats.

There have been a number of special editions, so just make sure you get all the kit you want.

The GT86 is an absolute stunner, beautiful to look upon and a total delight to drive.

Find your Toyota GT86 your way with CarStore

If you're in the market for a sporty-looking car, that provide an exhilarating experience without compromising on comfort, the Toyota GT86 is an excellent option for you.

Here at CarStore, you're able to buy your car your way. Whether that be online, in-person, or a mix of both, the choice is yours. With an extensive variety of used cars available, we're sure to have a car that suits your lifestyle.