Exactly how much Toyota's new 86 love the hill roads (touge)? The only way to find out?, in this case the FR-base 86, is to put it through its paces. A midnight run to be precise, wee-hours in the morning to be spiritually connected to the cult that made the original 86. But we're not delivering tofu this time, I'd prefer to keep the 86 in grip mode with VSC Sport on.
Hill Climb: Toyota 86 on Genting Highlands - First Drive - YouTube
Although circuit driving allows one to squeeze the absolute limits of a car, we just can't wait to put the car through real-world scenarios, where mere-mortals do 99% of their driving. So where else better than our favorite touge route, also a favourite for many. Genting Highlands offers a good combination of great high-speed curves and a good blend of tight and twisty corners. A hill being a hill, it's got various degrees of inclination where one can sample a car’s torque, power and balance and a good return downhill descend where the chassis more or less over rule engine performance.
To start it off, the drive to the foothills to Genting Highlands involve continuous, windy high-speed highway, now recently made better with overhead LED lamp posts, significantly increasing the joy of night driving towards the Genting start point. The journey starts with the 86’s transit through the Karak highway, where it manages to showcase overall driving prowess, pretty much covering the entire journey much like a bigger GT car where it stays completely planted and composed when negotiating Karak's high speed bends, made even more apparent when approaching the off-camber sections.
There is also a sense of constant physical communication with the 86. Like a Lego-figure sitting on 4-studs of a Lego block, in this case me on the snug sports seat, where i am seemingly welded to the chassis, taking in all the glorious feedback. A sensation only available in the Hall of Fame of driver's cars. It's just one hell of an inspiring drive when you feel like you're one with the car and on a transit highway like the Karak, It very quickly warms up both the car and driver -before the actual touge.
Being in this part of the world, we encounter roads that are less than perfect, where the highways are smothered with various types of blemishes. Even so, the 86’s well-tuned suspension cleverly soak all imperfections, dips and bumps. Efficiently filtering out unnecessary distractions. Absolutely no jarring, spine-crushing drama in here.
The HID projector headlights throw a far yet wide and consistent beam, substantially increasing the eyes’ visual reach. LED positioning strips integrated in the headlights garnishes the front, plus It helps with indicating to the unassuming fast-lane road hoggers that something special is approaching from the rear.
Upon arriving to the foothills of Genting Highlands, one starts to anticipate how satisfying the 86 could be, having sampled the preview of what it is like on regular roads and the corners of Karak at speed. As we head uphill, you are immediately greeted with a change of scenario, where the roads are now narrower, steeper and dark. It is an immediate signal of caution to most, or to driving enthusiasts, an invitation to the wild side.
Just like your first Kobe beef steak, you'd want to take in a good bite size to chew, then melt it all over your taste buds before finally allowing the heavenly remains to travel down your throat. Similarly, this is not Man VS Food and I'm not here to set a lap record. What i need is a slow release dose of what the 86 feel like.
Let’s talk about the Toyota 86′s trick auto transmission, Yes, an Automatic. But why? Well the great guys at UMW Toyota Malaysia wanted the best for us, so the top-of-the-range 86 was commissioned for the review(s). Plus, it'll make for a more relevant test since most people prefer to live with automatics since the 90's anyway. This baby costs RM6000 on top of the Manual 86, and now that we so love the paddle shifting auto, I can only imagine how much more satisfying the Manual could be, so, If I ever had any qualms about the 86, they'd all be gone with a stick shift. I promise.
Back to the 86's Automatic, No, it is not like the one in your neighbour’s SUV. This auto almost behaves like a dual-clutch sequential shifting box without the dual-clutch. Firstly, in full-manual mode, the 86 is as responsive as any manual car with the gear engaged. There is no rubber band torque slippage, there is no shifting lag, just swift and silky transitioning through the gears and not a hint of jerk gear after gear. Every flick of the paddle shifters send a direct microsecond command to the transmission with no lag whatsoever. Up or Down.
As we approach a corner, braking as late as possible followed by a flick or 2 of the left paddle and you are immediately greeted with perfectly rev-matched, heel-and-toe-esque downshift(s). And as you attack the impending hairpin, you begin to appreciate how neutral the car is, coupled with how easy to judge the 86’s physique, highlighted by the bulges at the front either side just above the wheels, like a pair of cross-hairs.
Just before exiting any corner, it tempts you to floor it out, it just telepathically tells you to, especially with the VSC Sport turned on, the steering is crisp and the power delivery is amplified. But should an adventurous inexperienced driver vigorously mess with the throttle in a corner and when the tail tries to step out, which in the 86 with the TC on, it does. This same, smart Traction Control also immediately kicks in, resisting the car from initiating an involuntarily slide; perfect for a novice.
While the 200 conservative ponies can hardly get anyone into serious trouble, it allows good drivers to access all of it anywhere. Rather than to scare yourself in a wild monster, while not knowing exactly how well or fast you are doing, the 86 encourages one to preserve generated momentum with its unique handling capabilities. In a way, the 86 is highly efficient in not wasting crucial inertia. Yes it may not smoke its tires or break one's neck sprinting up the hills, but anyone could appreciate the creamy smooth power delivery as the flat-4 sings its way to 7000rpm. It is also beneficial to keep the revs right up there at all times where the engine is most alive.
Although the flat-4 mostly enjoy singing high up the revs, there is also a hint of sportiness down below in the rev band. Toyota has somehow tuned the air induction of the 86 to emit a throaty howl as the engine moves up the revs right before it changes to a high-pitched scream. That throaty howl is also very apparent when downshifting as the cold air intake air box vigorously gulps for air.
Please take your time to enjoy that 8-minute on-board video we prepared. If you've never done any on-board videos, do keep in mind that it always look slower than what it actually is in reality.
All in all, anyone can be and/or learn to be pretty fast up or down the hills upon driving the 86 for the first couple of minutes. And again, as we have made it very clear, anyone can exploit the 200 relaxed horses coupled with a beautiful chassis in a silky smooth gearbox without being Keiichi Tsuchiya or someone closer to home, Tengku Djan.
- brilliant, surreal handling abilities
- Perfect, almost bespoke suspension
- Not intimidating, in fact highly confidence inspiring
- Auto gear ratios could be improved for better use of rev range
- Conservative mid range power
- Auto 'box doesn't allow downshifting anywhere beyond 4500rpm
Toyota 86 Specifications and Prices
- Zerotohundred: 8.2s (AT), 7.6s (MT)
- Top Speed: 225 km / h
- Engine: 1998 cc D-4S flat-four boxer engine (FA20)
- Power: 197 bhp / 7000 rpm
- Redline: 7400 rpm
- Torque 205 nm / 6600 rpm
- Weight: 1,230 kg
- Fuel: 5.91L/100km Automatic / 6.5L/100km Manual
- Fuel Tank: 50 L
- Wheels: 17"
- Tyres: 215/45R17 all round
- Price: RM243,000 Manual / RM249,000 Auto
- Official Link: http://www.toyota.com.my/toyota-86/
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- First Drive: Toyota 86 - The best handling compact FR coupe now!
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- Touge time: Toyota 86 first drive up genting highlands - with on board video
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