Toyota’s GT86 sports car has garnered universal praise for its ability to slap a smile on the driver and instill driver confidence, so when Toyota brought together a group of GT86 owners for a GT86-only track day at Oulton Park, we caught up with them to find out what it’s like to own and live with a GT86.
25-year old aerospace engineer Aniel Ganatra bought a GT86 when it was first launched in 2012, and liked it so much that he’s already bought another one with optional leather interior – this GT86 in stunning H8R metallic orange is all the car he needs. “I use it every day, no matter what, rain or shine,” he explains.
Aniel’s experience also dispels the myth that a sports car is expensive to run: “On a general commute, I’m getting 46mpg out of it driving to work and back, so I was more than impressed with that. I had a Prius before and I was only getting 55mpg on my same commute, so to go from a Prius to this, it’s fine!”
Owning a GT86 is more than just about enjoying its award-winning dynamic abilities, though, as it quickly becomes a centrepiece in social situations. “My friends love it,” relates Aniel, “I’m a member of a car club and everybody takes an interest in it. Especially when that colour’s clean, it stands out and people come and speak to you about the Toyota and they get a real insight.”
For Peter Oxley, a 49-year old business development manager from Nantwich, the rear-wheel drive GT86 has continued to impress even through our inclement British winters: “I’ve driven it in poor weather, in wet weather, and in icy weather [and] the basic car is absolutely brilliant – it’s very, very predictable and dependable.”
What attracted Peter to the GT86 was its blend of sporty appeal and reliability, as he explained: “It’s a sporty looking car, nice and low. I didn’t want something highly tuned to the point of being a car that goes wrong and needs a lot of playing around to keep it on the road. [The GT86] is very simple to use – it’s user friendly.”
Carla Taylor, a marketing manager from Worcestershire, fell in love with the GT86 when she saw it on Top Gear, but had to wait a year to buy one while her kids learned to drive (in an Aygo, of course). She enjoys the great range of responses to her GT86: “I get everything from ‘oh, is that your mid-life crisis car?’ to ‘ooh, your job must be going really well if you can drive one of those!’ But actually most people don’t know what it is, which is great because then I get to tell them all about it!”
As she commutes to North London for work, the practicality of the GT86 is put to the test, and never found wanting: “I stay in London during the week, so I just load up the boot with my case and my work stuff and it’s absolutely fine.”
34-year old David Gracie travelled down to Oulton Park from his home in Newcastle, making it two track days in two weeks for his ’14-plate GT86. However, it’s more than just his weekend toy: “I use the car Monday to Friday and it’s great – it does everything you need, and you can have fun when you want to,” David says. “People that are into cars and like driving will get the ethos behind the [GT86].”
Compared to his previous car, the GT86 is proving to be kinder to the wallet too, even over his short commute and during enthusiastic driving: “My last car [also] had a two-litre engine and that only got about 24-25mpg. [My GT86] is getting low 30s so it’s already cheaper than the last car to run.”
A detailer by trade, it wasn’t a surprise to discover that 60-year old Andy Whiffin keeps his GT86 in tip-top condition, even after several outings on track. With five Toyotas in the family and an iQ for daily use, the GT86 fills Andy’s desire for fun behind the wheel: “I spotted this lovely red GT86 in the showroom, and snuck a little sit in it and I had to own it. It just felt like the right car for me and, being rear-wheel drive which I love, there wasn’t a reason not to buy it really.” He continues: “Basically it’s for fun, for purely and utterly enjoying driving – that’s the whole reason for buying it.”
And even when his GT86 is at rest, Andy derives a great deal of enjoyment from the ownership experience: “People really like it, they’re impressed with it. When people come up and talk to you about [the GT86], there’s lots you can tell them about it; it’s got lots of little design details and you never lose interest in the car. It’s a fascinating thing and I just love it. Even if I’m not driving it, I can go out and sit in the garage and watch TV in it, or just go out an polish it – that’s just as much fun.”
Data communications engineer Shaun Kent was smitten when he first saw Toyota’s FT-86 Concept in 2009, and finally fulfilled his dream of owning a GT86 in April 2014. It’s full of surprises too, challenging misconceptions about living with a sports car: “I find it a lot more practical than my Yaris, which is a bit strange for some people to hear because obviously it’s a sports car, which they think is supposed to be small and not very practical., but the boot space is really good!”
Furthermore, the GT86 reflects Shaun’s own personality: “The car is advanced, it’s got a lot of technology and mechanical engineering under it, and obviously being an engineer of sorts, I like that kind of thing. It expresses my personality in a way – it’s a fun car that’s just great to own.”
Owners up and down the country are discovering the Toyota GT86 is ‘The Real Deal’ in the real world: practical, economical, reliable, confidence-inspiring and, most importantly, fun. Experience it for yourself by booking a test drive – simply leave us a message below and we’ll happily arrange it for you. Alternatively, learn more about the sporty GT86 coupe at the official Toyota website. We’ll give the last word to Carla Taylor, who described her GT86 like this: “I absolutely love it – it’s my ‘smile of the morning’ car.”