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[Behind the Wheel] Toyota’s manual sports car GR86 returns with enhanced engine

Toyota GR86 lined up at racing circuit of Inje Speedium in Gangwon Province on Wednesday. (Toyota Motor Korea)
Toyota GR86 lined up at racing circuit of Inje Speedium in Gangwon Province on Wednesday. (Toyota Motor Korea)
INJE, Gangwon Province - Toyota’s iconic motorsports car Gazoo Racing 86 is back, 10 years after its second-generation model was launched in South Korea.

And while other models are sold on green credentials, the carmaker has made a play for petrolheads with the third generation of the car, increasing the size of the engine by 20 percent to 2.4 liters, and offering a maximum torque of 25.5 kilogram-meters.

Design-wise, the GR86 is unremarkable, looking like a typical sports car that can be seen on city streets.

It is a two-door model with a front air outlet to increase balance while driving, a side seal that enhances straight driving performance, and a ducktail that improves rear stability.

To enhance speed, the GR86 uses thinner tires on its 17-inch aluminum wheels than most recently launched cars.

There is nothing fancy about the interior either, though it is clearly made to appeal to motorsports maniacs.

The Korea Herald took the car for a test drive at the Inje Speedium in Gangwon Province on Wednesday.

The car matches its first impressions: The manual transmission and low seating position to make the driver feel as if they are part of the car itself, and the car moved very swiftly around the circuit due to its light weight and low center of gravity.

The car was very agile, with a highly responsive steering wheel, and offered a very stable and soft drift on sharp corners of the circuit even when the road was wet with light rain.

With the wider industry’s focus on making all-electric vehicles to transition into carbon neutrality, the GR86 could appeal to those who hanker for the old days, when combustion engine cars boasting speed would define what a leisure car is.

Plus, the car is offered at an affordable price starting at 40.3 million won ($31,600) for the standard model and 46.3 million won for the premium model.

Toyota Motor Korea has allotted 100 units of GR86 for sales in the country this year, all of which have already been sold out through preorders.

By Hong Yoo (yoohong@heraldcorp.com)
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