The Toyota GT86 is, from one perspective, exactly our sort of car. It’s fairly lightweight, rear-wheel drive, revvy and it handles like an absolute dream. But that’s never stopped it attracting a fair bit of criticism – almost always for a perceived lack of pace.
Never mind that such complaints are totally missing the point of the car; that’s an argument we’ve had before and don’t need to have again right now. The fact is that some people think that the GT86, as Toyota’s only sports car, just hasn’t got big enough cojones. Fortunately for them, it soon won’t be Toyota’s only sports car.
The launch of the Supra has been dragging on for years. A concept here, a teaser there, the odd leak to boot, but finally it’s almost time for the Z4-related sports coupe to make its grand entrance. The front end has already been revealed. We, like you, are looking forward to the full announcement. It’s going to be Toyota’s flagship sports car, reviving a name long respected, loved and lusted after.
That’s great, but for the GT86 it might be a little out of reach to be much of a catalyst in terms of image and sales. The two are at opposite ends of the sports car scale under the Toyota roof with over 150bhp and what’s likely to be a big price gulf between them. What the humble 86 needs is a car between it and the Supra; a two-door with between 250 and 300 ponies and a name that will have people placing orders before they even know the spec. We mean, naturally, the rumoured MR2.
If it really exists, really is coming and really might have a hybrid-enhanced boxer-four, it could be exactly what the GT86’s doctor ordered. Priced higher but not stupidly so, an MR2 would act as a bridge, linking those cars either side of it and presenting a new idea: a range of three quite different sports cars with different target audiences but the same DNA – the same credibility.
Having an MR2 above it and a Supra above that would release the pressure on the GT86. People who want something faster will have options and simply won’t need to bitch about the genuinely wonderful GT86 any more. In a way it will gently close the door on the negativity and allow those who really see the magic in that car to carry on appreciating it.
What’s more, being part of a family that contains the nameplates MR2 and Supra would bring with it a fair amount of kudos. Picture the GT86 like a younger brother to Princes William and Harry. William is the real deal, a king in waiting – like the Supra. Harry is the slightly off-beat fun-lover who can be serious too – sounds like a reborn MR2, to us. The third and youngest brother, Prince G.T. Eightysix, knows he’s never going to be on the throne but is cut from the same cloth as his brothers. He is who he is, he’s proud of his talents and people appreciate the work he does.
That’s why the distant – and far from certain – arrival of a new MR2 would be a great thing for the GT86. Maybe then, at long last, the naysayers could move on and the rest of us could admire it in peace. We might also find a few closet fans of the car suddenly praising it openly once it can piggyback on the MR2 and Supra. We’ll have to wait and see.