Toyota GT86 TRD – First Impressions

by | Oct 17, 2013 | First Impressions, Toyota | 0 comments

One of the few criticisms levelled at the Toyota GT86 is that, at £24,995, it is too expensive. With only 197bhp and 151lb/ft it’s slower than a lot of cheaper turbocharged hot hatchbacks. If power and speed are all you’re after then go for the hatchback.

I prefer to think that the price premium gets you a light and beautifully balanced rear-wheel drive chassis. It’s the sort of car that will engage you in ways that a front-wheel drive car never will and it’s not unreasonable to pay a little more for that privilege. When we reviewed the GT86 earlier this year, we loved it.

Toyota GT86 TRD

Toyota GT86 TRD

So what about this, the limited edition Toyota GT86 TRD? The Toyota Racing Development team have cast their eye over the standard car and made a number of changes, the first of which is that bodykit. There’s a deeper bumper at the front, sill extensions, spoiler perched on the boot lid and four exhaust tips poking out from underneath a diffuser-style rear bumper.

Look carefully and you might even notice the TRD-branded fuel filler cap as well as the logo on the gearstick. Look really carefully and you might find the TRD radiator cap too.

Toyota GT86 TRD Rear

Four exhausts, spoiler, sill extensions and bigger wheels. Yes, this is a TRD.

Mechanical changes are limited. The wheels are up to 18 inches in diameter and are wrapped in stickier Yokohama Advan Sport tyres. These tame the GT86’s natural tendency to oversteer and make it feel more composed and precise. You might think this is spoiling the fun.

The four exhaust tips hint at the tuned exhaust. The GT86’s flat-four boxer engine is never going to make onto a list of all-time great engine sounds but the TRD exhaust adds a richer note to the upper reaches of the rev range without any horrible low-end boominess in the cabin. It’s the best part of the package.

You’ll be hearing a lot from that exhaust as you’ll be wanting to use all of those top-end revs. With no extra power to play with you still have to thrash the GT86 to within an inch of its life to find the power and speed you crave, and the flashing red ‘change’ light and warning buzzer will become constant companions in your travels. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the fun.


The high-revving antics are further enhanced by one of the best gear shifts I’ve sampled in a long time. It has a delightfully short throw and is incredibly direct, allowing you to swap gears with a flick of the wrist. If you find yourself craving an automatic gearbox after driving this then I’m sorry, there’s no hope for you.

The new tyres mean you have to try that bit harder to kick the GT86’s tail out of line but if you’re committed you can still break traction in the dry. Roundabouts are still a giggle that tempt you to indulge in a little oversteering fun. I’d really love to try a GT86 in the wet.

Toyota GT86 TRD

Toyota GT86 TRD

The trouble is the standard GT86 offers all of this bar the exhaust note. At a premium of £6,500 the TRD is simply too expensive for what amounts to some cosmetic changes, more grip and slightly improved noise. If you want to tame the oversteer just pick a performance tyre when you’ve finally worn through the original Michelin Primacys.

If you’re seriously considering one of the 250 TRD editions coming to the UK then might I suggest you think twice? Why not buy a standard GT86 and take the money you’ve saved to a reputable tuning firm? I hear Litchfield Imports have been working on a supercharger kit that boosts power to 280bhp and would leave you with plenty of change from your £6,500. Surely that’s a better way to spend your money than on a plastic bodykit and radiator cap that no-one else will ever see?

Toyota GT86 TRD Specifications

Engine: 1,998cc ‘boxer’ flat-four petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power: 197bhp
Torque: 151lb/ft
0-62 mph: 7.6 seconds
Top Speed: 140 mph
CO2 Emissions: 181g/km (Band E)
Official Economy: 36.2mpg
Price (OTR): £31,495* (limited to 250)

*Prices taken from Toyota website, October 2013

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