The Toyota 86 will get better handling and a custom look when the 2019 Toyota TRD Special Edition 86 enters showrooms in August for $33,340.
Toyota says the “Ultimate Performance” 86 gets bigger Brembo brakes (12.8 inches front with four-piston calipers and 12.4/two-caliper rear), Sachs dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, along with a healthy slathering of mid-'80s to mid-'90s aerodynamic and trim features fit for an aerobics instructor wearing a headband and leg warmers. There are no powertrain upgrades listed, so the engine soldiers on with 205 hp in manual trim and 200 in automatic. You can get a few power enhancers for any 86 — including this one, from the TRD catalog — like a high-flow air filter and a cat-back exhaust, which your dealer would be happy to install on your new 86. But for this Special, Toyota opted to stick to handling, aerodynamics and cosmetics.
In fact, if you’re going to add TRD parts to this ride, may I suggest a few more?
As it sat there at the intro, the Special Edition 86 looked like it was riding high, with bigger-than-would-be-cool gaps between the tops of the tires and the bottoms of the wheel arches. First thing you’re going to want to do is add the TRD lowering springs, part No. PTR07-18130. Then get the TRD sway bar and bushing kit. In fact, you might be happy just designing your own 86 using the TRD parts catalog. But you won’t get the look you see here. This package will have its own appeal to its own audience.
I got to try it out on the bumpy, improvised road course used by Exotics Racing in Lot 4 of the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana yesterday. In fact, I got to try both a stock 2018 86 and the new 2019-model Special Edition. My first drive was as a passenger, and my pilot was none other than Toyota Formula Drift pilot Jhonnattan Castro.
“We always tryin’ ta’ drift,” Castro said as we entered the track at full wallop, dialing in a little oversteer. He was having fun.
But the TRD Special Edition wouldn’t break loose as easily as the stock 86. While the Sachs dampers surely help, the meatier Michelins are probably the main reason the new car holds on so well through the corners. Stock tires on Toyota 86s are 215/45R-17 Michelin Primacy HPs, while this 86 gets 215/40ZR-18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4s. Tires can make a big difference in how a car feels on the road and on the track. Were the brakes and steering better? They weren't so much better that you could feel the difference right away. If you were lapping all day at a track instead of the two laps I got, you could probably brake deeper into the corners and steer more precisely, but the differences felt only moderate during my brief time in the car. But I tend to brake way too early and way too gradually. Stomping on the binders might show a more distinct difference.
Next I got a demo lap by another Toyota Formula D pro drifter, Ken “The Gush” Gushi, a popular local drift hero from SoCal.
“Ah, air conditioning,” Gushi said when we got in the car. “My drift car doesn’t have A/C.”
Yeah, but his drift 86 has 900-something hp. This manual transmission 86 had the standard 205 hp.
The stock 86 could slide around more on the track, requiring more throttle restraint going through the course’s slippery corners. There was some more sliding on the 2018 86’s slightly more slippery Michelins.
When it was my turn to drive, I took Gushi’s lines through the corners, modulating the throttle more than in the Special Edition in order to stay in line. But I could still slide the rear end out as much and as easily as I wanted to. This version of the car was a lot more fun on this track. On the semisharp left-hander that brings you back onto the front straight, I drifted a little, as much as the traction control — yes, they left the TC on — would let me.
“Now you’re doing it,” said The Gush.
“You think I could drive in Formula D?” I asked him.
“Ha ha ha,” he said.
So yes, I had more fun driving the stock 86. So sue me. It was just a blast sliding it around on those high-mileage Michelins.
If you really want more power, perhaps you could do what Toyota Formula Drift driver Ryan Tuerck did and swap a Ferrari engine into an 86.
Toyota’s only building 1,418 Special Edition cars, so if you’re going to buy one, you'll probably want to hurry.
On Sale: August
Base Price: $27,375
As Tested Price: $33,340
Powertrain: 2.0-liter four, six-speed manual, rwd
Output: 205 hp at 7000 rpm, 156 lb-ft at 6400 rpm
Curb Weight: 2837 pounds (mfg.)
Fuel Economy: 21/28/24(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Better cornering, better lap times
Cons: You have to like everything about it, including the somewhat kitschy looks