2021 Toyota 86 Canada Review – If you know anything about the Toyota 86 and TRD, your first question about this 2019 Toyota 86 TRD Special Edition will be if it has more power, so let’s get it out of the way. A lot of people think 86 needs more power. They’ve been begging for years, but I’m not one of them. I agree with Toyota’s position that the power is appropriate for the purpose and personality of the car. It’s fun as it is. So much so that in our 2017 comparison test, “The Leftovers”, I personally put it first and wrote a passionate defense when I was voted and landed third.
I love the animated chassis of ’86. I love that it has enough body swing for a 30 mph (48 km/h) corner to look like a 60 mph corner. I love that power oversteer is at your disposal and that the chassis is rewarded with smooth, predictable, and easy-to-control shifts. It’s an absurd amount of fun at $27,000 USD.
Part of what makes it so fun are its tires. Standard equipment is the Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 tire for all seasons, and optional is the Michelin Primacy HP Grand Touring summer tire. Nor is it a high-performance tire, designed in place for long service life and low rolling resistance for better fuel economy. Hard and thin, they are easily surpassed by 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of 86’s torque (or 200 hp and 151 lb-ft if you opt for six-speed automatic transmission).
Enter the TRD Special Edition. It features real performance tires, Michelin Pilot Sport 4s on new 18-inch wheels. Behind them are Sachs shock absorbers and Brembo brakes. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve seen this movie before when the Subaru BRZ Limited Performance package was called. However, it is not exactly a carbon copy, as the 86 TRD has a new rear bumper, brushed stainless steel exhaust tips and a three-piece front splitter/lip spoiler combo that are not rated to produce aerodynamic load and not affect the car’s drag coefficient. Being a special edition, it is limited to 1,418 copies, only comes in black Raven and with manual transmission, and receives retro 1980s DEcals and TRID badges. Also on the record: red interior accents, red contrast seams and the yellow/orange/red TRD logo embroidered on the board.
The tyres will actually recognize it by the also limited edition BRZ tS. That car we punish for adding more grip without adding more power, resulting in less drama and consequently less fun. We tested the same in our long-term Scion FR-S (now known as Toyota 86) with a set of high-performance Dunlop Direzza ZII tires. Same result: more grip, faster laps, less fun.
If you now wonder if Toyota has managed to break the spell, the answer is, again, no. Like our old Scion and BRZ tS, the 86 TRD Special Edition has more grip, rides a track faster, feels like you need more power and doesn’t move. Still, that doesn’t mean Toyota has ruined the car. Actually, it gives the car more range. Believe it or not, some people don’t want loose cars that fly over in the blink of an eye. A lot of people follow their 86s, and going sideways isn’t fast.
With stickiest tires, the 86 TRD simply grabs and leaves. In the low-speed corners, you can wood almost as soon as you trim the vertex, and the car will put the last pony and foot-pound on the ground. In high-speed corners, it’s the chef’s choice whether you lift or not, and if you need to use the brake, you just shake it. With all that stick, you can carry a ton of speed without losing the line. Although understeer is always easy to induce with a fist-wielding, no number of punctures would cause more than a few degrees of rotation from the rear. No, it’s not a silly fun like the standard car, but it’s faster and forces you to drive like a pro and not a hooligan. Getting braking points, curves and perfect curves requires practice, and this car will take you there. However, once you get there, you can’t help but feel that no matter how much you like the car as it is, you could use a lot more power for the straights.