Toyota, renowned for their ubiquitous dishwashers and the eco-conscious Prius, has unexpectedly emerged as a defender of classic analog sports cars. Two contenders have stepped into the ring – the GR Supra with its manual gearbox and the GR86, a back-to-basics sports car. In this showdown, we’ll dissect the merits of each, determining which truly stands as the epitome of Toyota’s sports car prowess.
The Resurgence of the Supra
Let’s dive into the Supra, a name steeped in automotive history. Initially, the latest generation left enthusiasts like myself slightly underwhelmed. Dismissing the BMW underpinnings, my discontent stemmed from the Supra’s ponderous and lackluster driving experience. Toyota decided to rectify this with a bold move – introducing a six-speed manual gearbox, bidding farewell to the eight-speed automatic.
This transformative decision sheds 38.3 kilos off the Supra’s weight, a commendable step towards a more agile demeanor. Suspension tweaks, steering adjustments, and even a lighter HiFi system collectively contribute to a revitalized driving experience. The attention to detail is evident in the gear lever, with Toyota experimenting with different weights, akin to the meticulous approach of Gordon Murray.
While this is an initial impression, the manual Supra has managed to capture my interest, a feat none of its automatic counterparts could achieve. The three-liter turbocharged straight-six engine now responds to the whims of the driver’s hand, elevating the Supra into a more engaging realm.
The GR86: Back to Basics, Forward to Fun
Transitioning to the GR86, the successor to the beloved GT 86, anticipation runs high. Priced sensibly at just under 30 grand, this rear-wheel-drive sports car comes surprisingly well-equipped. From LED lights to a reversing camera, keyless start, and creature comforts like heated seats, the GR86 strikes a balance between simplicity and functionality.
Inside, it’s evident that the emphasis is on performance, not opulence. The materials may not exude luxury, but at its price point, it’s forgivable. Toyota smartly embraces affordability, as evidenced by the rapid sell-out of GR86s in the UK within an hour and a half.
Under the hood, a 2.4-liter flat-four engine replaces its predecessor’s unit. This modification addresses the torque deficiency, making the GR86 more responsive without compromising its pure, naturally aspirated essence. The driving experience is enhanced, with a quicker 0-60 time and a respectable top speed of 140 miles per hour.
A Symphony of Roars: Driving Dynamics
The GR86’s driving dynamics exemplify the quintessential sports car experience. The boxer engine’s distinctive growl accompanies a well-balanced chassis, providing an exhilarating yet approachable ride. Toyota, wisely, has refrained from inundating the GR86 with unnecessary gimmicks, allowing the driving pleasure to take center stage.
Whether navigating a racetrack or cruising on a scenic road, the GR86 maintains its charm. The manual transmission, if one is physically able, is the preferred choice, offering a seamless connection between driver and machine. The simplified setup, devoid of multiple driving modes, adds to the purity of the driving experience.
The Verdict: Toyota’s Dynamic Duo
In conclusion, Toyota’s foray into the manual sports car realm is a commendable endeavor. The Supra, with its newfound agility, strives to reclaim its status as a true sports car. However, the GR86, with its unpretentious charm and affordable price, emerges as the people’s champion.
As the automotive landscape evolves, embracing electric power and autonomous technology, these rear-wheel-drive, manual gearbox-equipped gems are a nostalgic nod to a bygone era. Toyota’s commitment to providing enthusiasts with affordable, engaging options deserves applause. Whether it’s the Supra or the GR86, Toyota’s manual warriors offer a compelling argument for the enduring allure of analog sports cars.