The Toyota GT86, in all of its forms, is one of the best-handling cars money can buy, a trait that can put a smile on the faces of all but the most jaded car enthusiasts. But if good handling isn't what they're looking for, then what is? Our first guess would have to be more power, something the 200-horsepower Toyota would benefit from. Autocar tries out that theory by driving two turbocharged GT86s on track, then pitting the more powerful one against the 616-hp McLaren MP4-12C in a track battle.

The first GT86 turbo Autocar's Steve Sutcliffe drives makes around 255 rear-wheel horsepower and a bucket-load more torque than the stock car. That's plenty of power to either have a lot of fun or get into a lot of trouble. But the GT86 that Sutcliffe tails in the McLaren is race-prepped, stripped to the bone and wears slicks to harness a heavy-hitting 335 hp at the wheel. Weighing in at under 2,500 pounds, the Toyota can't overcome the MP4-12C's power-to-weight ratio of 5.3 pounds per horsepower, but it comes pretty close.

Enjoy a lot of chasing and drifting fun in the video below!


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  • 35 Comments
      eeenok
      • 1 Year Ago
      as much as they're pretending similar performance away from the straights, the 86 looked like it was working furiously and the 12c looked like it was coasting on rails
        SquareFour
        • 1 Year Ago
        @eeenok
        I thought the same thing too, but then I remembered that perspective could be off in a lot of the shots (especially those where it looks like the McLaren *jumble of letters & numerals* is on the 86's arse through the corners) and that racing always looks less dramatic to spectators. That said, I do get the feeling he was only driving the McLaren at like 7-8/10ths. Hard to say how hard the 86 was being driven because that thing will wag its tail as a matter of course, but it sure seemed like he was going balls out.
        PatrickH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @eeenok
        The McLaren is definitely faster in a straight line, but dynamically the GT86 has the upper hand in the turns. It's significantly lighter and has a lower CoG.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @eeenok
        [blocked]
        brianguy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @eeenok
        I bet the McClaren never got above 4500 RPM the entire time during that last segment following the white car... and the guy in front was driving "90%" yet using every single inch of the racetrack and nearly every ounce of skill to keep it planted on tarmac. translation: yeah, right. 90%? more like 98%
      tinted up
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was under the impression that the 12C produced 592 bhp...
      unsivilaudio
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow, you guys really shouldn't encourage this kind of crap journalism. I actually feel stupider for watching that.
      SquareFour
      • 1 Year Ago
      Like everything in this life, it all starts with the bones. The 86 trio give you one thing that I think justifies the price: one helluva sweet chassis. Actually, I know racers who pay even more for such a base to build a racer off of. Seriously. Anyway, power can be added, but all the power in the world ain't gonna help a flexy chassis. You can add structure to stiffen it up, but that also adds weight. If you start light and strong, with balance and a low CG...well, it's a wonderful thing. All this time I've been thinking that they didn't engineer the chassis to handle too much power because of cost and weight (a supposed Toyota engineer told me that). Despite that, I could tell it was a wonderfully sweet platform. Now I know better. That "engineer" was up in the night.
        bK
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SquareFour
        I think Toyota intentionally left it literally bone stock (under powered, narrow tires) so that people can build the car however they want it. I think the whole purpose of reviving the AE86 was for the driver to be able to have fun driving it and tuning/modding it however they wanted, whether they wanted to add a turbo or a supercharger or keep it NA etc... just like in the old days of the Corolla GTS.
          MistyGreen
          • 1 Year Ago
          @bK
          WHOA it all makes sense. Toyota trying as hard as they can to market Scion as a customizable, personal manufacturer. They want people who want to customize their cars to buy Scions. Not Toyotas. It all makes sense now...
        404 not found
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SquareFour
        Thank you!! Someone who gets it! The AVO turbo kit (looks like it in the vid) is an easy bolt on 100hp/100tq. Toyota/Subaru gave people the thing that's harder to achieve: a kick@$$ chassis.
      josephslow
      • 1 Year Ago
      250/250 is where it should have been in the first place. I don't give a rip what the 1/4 mile time would be. It needs torque!!!
        Robert Fahey
        • 1 Year Ago
        @josephslow
        I agree. Revving the balls off your car is fun once in a while, but it shouldn't be mandatory. Even an MX5 (Miata) feels punchier without flogging, as did the MR2 Spyder.
        kuntknife
        • 1 Year Ago
        @josephslow
        And let me guess, you want it at $5K less as well, right?
        Hoale
        • 1 Year Ago
        @josephslow
        but that would push it into another price range with mustang 5.0, 370Z etc...and you would then say it needs 300/300
      Rieku Ame
      • 1 Year Ago
      I know, I know. I didn't watch it (I just can't). BUT, I bet there was know gear ratio tuning to better use all the added power the GT86 got.
        kuntknife
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rieku Ame
        Nope. I was going to list out the mods (which aren't as numerous as you'd think), but I don't want to spoil it for ya ;)
      Thunder938
      • 1 Year Ago
      The GT86 looks like fun, BUT it cant put the power down at all and thats on slicks? Need some rear susp. work and wide body with big tires maybe. Well it looks like a good drift car.
        PatrickH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Thunder938
        Not sure how wide you mean, but the GT86 can fit 275mm width tires in the rear without any modification to the vehicle. That's plenty of tire for a car of that power and size. The driver is intentionally flinging it around.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Thunder938
        I think the 86 was engineered for moderate power and never meant to be supercar-able. It would need more track width and wheelbase, as well as a more sophisticated suspension setup, for something like 400 hp.
          brianguy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          it doesn't even do well with 300HP... so, yep.
      MistyGreen
      • 1 Year Ago
      haha oh man, English people are good for a laugh. "I mean, CRACKERS fast!" Wow. Um, .. that's sure fast alright! lol
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MistyGreen
        Aww, you don't think American people and their endless baseball references are good for a laugh? "World Series" LOL
          MotionDesigner
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          How did baseball get into this? But since you're on the topic, there's nothing wrong calling it the "World Series." The best players from the "world" play in the MLB, not just Americans, so when the best two teams play for the championship, "World" Series makes perfect sense.
      guigahe
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love it, I love the GT and the passion this car provokes!
      • 1 Year Ago
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      • 1 Year Ago
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      • 1 Year Ago
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