PLANO, Texas — Toyota is celebrating what it dubs “the pure fun of sports car driving” with a limited-edition GR86 for 2023.
The second-generation GR86, introduced for 2022, made headlines with a significant jump in power over the first-gen model, along with a more stirring design and tighter handling, all while keeping weight low and the price affordable, according to a Toyota news release.
Built on the GR86 Premium grade, the 2023 GR86 Special Edition will leave an unforgettable visual impression with its Solar Shift orange paint color, which is exclusive to this model.
A GR cat-back performance exhaust system with stainless steel pipes, black chrome tips and debossed GR logo ensures that the GR86 Special Edition will leave a deep, growling auditory signature in its wake.
GR matte-black 18-inch wheels with black center caps and black lug nuts with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, a black GR C-pillar graphic and Ultrasuede/leather trimmed interior with GR special edition badge accent the striking color.
The 2023 GR86 Special Edition will be limited to just 860 units, the news release stated.
It makes this limited-run appearance just as Toyota expands its GR sports car line, which also includes the acclaimed GR Supra, the first-ever 300-horsepower and rally-bred All-Wheel-Drive GR Corolla hot hatch – all of which will offer a manual transmission.
“GR” stands for Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s motorsports and performance division.
Sports car fundamentals
The second-gen GR86 built on the considerable cred of the first-gen, amping up affordable sports car fun with a new 2.4-liter engine that yields nearly 11% more horsepower and 18% more torque than the first-gen model’s 2.0-liter, Toyota officials said.
The 2.4-liter engine delivers 228 hp (up from 205 in the 2.0-liter) and 184 lb.-ft. of torque (up from 156 over prior generation). Critically, the new engine is tuned so peak torque arrives far earlier in the powerband, at 3,700 RPM, versus 6,600 RPM before. The result is a more responsive and powerful driving experience in all situations.
This more powerful engine improves zero-to-60 acceleration from 7.0 to 6.1 seconds for the 6-speed manual transmission, and from 8.0 to 6.6 seconds for the available 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i), according to Toyota.
Fuel economy comes in at an EPA-estimated 20 city/27 highway/22 combined MPG for the manual transmission and 21 city/31 highway/25 combined MPG for the automatic.
Toyota’s D-4S dual injection, which combines direct fuel injection and port-injection technologies, provides a cooling effect in the cylinders to allow a very high 12.5:1 compression ratio for maximum power.
The port fuel injectors come into play during light- and medium-load conditions to help maximize combustion efficiency. The exhaust system’s larger center pipe capacity produces a satisfying growl, with augmented engine sound in the cabin from an Active Sound Control system.
The special edition adds a third choice to GR86’s two grade lineup.
The GR86 base grade sits on 17-inch, 10-spoke machined-finish aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Primacy HP tires. Interior features include six-way adjustable black GR-embossed fabric with sport fabric side bolsters, along with textured vinyl and sport fabric trim on the dash and doors.
Dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system with six-speakers and an anti-theft system with engine immobilizer and alarm are also standard.
The GR86 Premium grade rides on standard 18-inch, 10-spoke black aluminum alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.
To all the standard model’s equipment, the Premium adds a duckbill rear spoiler that sweeps up from the rear deck. Inside, black and silver accented six-way adjustable front seats feature two-level heating and perforated UltraSuede upholstery with leather side bolsters. Black and silver accents continue to the leather-wrapped steering wheel, shifter boot and parking brake handle.
The Premium grade is upgraded to an 8-speaker audio system with an amplifier and features aluminum sport pedals and footrest. For those who want even more bass, a dealer or factory-installed 10-inch, 200W subwoofer is available for either grade.
While the Solar Shift paint is restricted to the 2023 GR86 Special Edition, the other models offer a palette of seven dynamic colors: Track bRED, Halo White, Steel Silver, Pavement Grey, Raven Black, Neptune and Trueno Blue.
Light, strong, taut
For the second-gen GR86, the GR engineering team reworked the chassis and body to complement the increased engine performance. Strategic chassis reinforcements and use of structural adhesives resulted in a 50% increase in torsional rigidity over the prior-gen 86.
A new full-ring rear frame ties the upper and lower chassis together, and a combination of high-strength steel, hot-stamped steel and aluminum is strategically used throughout the frame.
More extensive use of aluminum in the body kept weight to just a few pounds over the prior-gen model, even with the new car’s added power, safety and comfort features, according to Toyota.
The GR86 uses an aluminum hood, front fenders and roof panel, versus just the hood for the prior-gen model. The increased use of aluminum in the body lowered the already super-low center of gravity by an additional 1.6mm. That seemingly small difference pays dividends in steering response and agility.
The GR86’s low weight, ultra-low center of gravity and 53% front:47% rear balance combines to make for a pure driver’s car. The 2023 GR86 weighs in at just 2,811 pounds with the manual transmission, and 2,851 pounds with the automatic.
Other examples of weight-shaving ingenuity for the second-gen GR86 include a resin fuel-filler door, new lightweight front seat frames, redesigned electric power-steering and changes to the driveline and engine block.
Driven by control
The Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system with a column-mounted integrated motor and control unit reduces both weight and space, Toyota officials said.
A rigid steering gearbox mount enhances the direct steering feel for the driver, and the quick ratio yields just 2.5 turns lock-to-lock for tight maneuverability.
Sport-tuned independent MacPherson front struts feature refined damping performance and internal rebound springs to enhance handling characteristics.
A double wishbone-type multi-link rear suspension employs stiffer springs and sport-tuned shock absorbers to provide planted, predictable handling.
Both GR86 grades are equipped with power-assisted 11.6-inch front and 11.4-inch rear ventilated disc brakes.
High performance in with manual or automatic flavors
“Sports car purists will love GR86’s 6-speed manual transmission,” the news release stated.
“With the push of a button, drivers can engage Track mode or switch off Vehicle Stability Control (VSC). A carbon synchronizer improves shifts into 4th gear. The transmission uses low-viscosity oil and bearings for smooth shifting operability with the higher torque output of the 2.4-liter boxer engine.”
For the 6-speed automatic, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters offer enthusiasts “a dynamic driving experience,” according to the news release.
Drivers can choose between Normal, Sport or Snow modes.
When in Sport mode, the transmission senses brake and accelerator operation and vehicle behavior to automatically select the optimal gear, bringing drivers the control they want. Additional clutch discs and a new high-capacity torque converter allow for smooth delivery of the 2.4-liter engine’s higher power and torque.
With either transmission, the GR86 comes equipped with a Torsen® limited-slip rear differential for improved traction while cornering.
Driver-focused tech comfort
The GR86 doesn’t sacrifice tech or comfort to achieve its fighting weight. A Smart Key System functions on both the driver and passenger door. A push-button start fires up a boxer-inspired GR-logo animation on its 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) multi-information display.
Display content varies based on whether drivers are in Normal, Sport, Snow or Track mode. (Track mode comes with manual transmission only.) Selecting Sport mode illuminates a red ring around the speedometer for a racy look. Track Mode was developed with race driver input. When it is selected, the instrument panel prominently displays an RPM-band in the center, along with oil and water coolant temperatures and a lap timer.
The small-diameter, leather-wrapped steering wheel integrates controls for the audio system, hands-free calling, voice-recognition system, display meters and cruise control. Power windows feature auto up/down and pinch protection. A split-opening center console provides two cup holders or storage as needed, with one auxiliary audio and two USB connections inside. The automatic transmission model also has an open storage area in the center.
For both 2023 GR86 grades, the multimedia system comes with Wired Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility, Bluetooth® for hands-free phone capability, a SiriusXM® 3-month Platinum Plan trial and a trial access to a suite of available connected services (with additional subscription).
Complimentary 1-year NASA Membership
No. Not that NASA. 🚀
Purchase of a 2023 GR86 comes with a complimentary 1-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). GR86 owners will enjoy a host of benefits, including one free High Performance Driving Event (HPDE) and discounted admission to NASA-sanctioned events.
GR86 safety, connected services
The GR86 automatic transmission model comes standard with an active safety system that includes Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Lane Departure Warning, Sway Warning, Lead Vehicle Start Alert and High Beam Assist.
Both grades are equipped with: Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Hill Start Assist Control (HAC). Additional safety features include rear seat LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) and a Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS). Seven airbags include a driver’s knee airbag.
Remote Services are available for enhanced safety and security. The Remote Connect package, which requires a subscription, includes engine start, climate control operation, vehicle locator, lock/unlock, diagnostic alert, monthly vehicle health reports, service usage reports and lights/hazard flasher/horn operation. Important for GR86 owners with young drivers in the household, the system includes geo fencing, speed alert and curfew features.
The Safety Connect package, which also requires a subscription, includes enhanced roadside assistance, SOS emergency assistance, automatic collision notification and stolen vehicle recovery service.