The Toyota 86, along with its platform sibling, the Subaru BRZ, remains one of the most fun-to-drive cars money can buy for those of us who grew up in the golden age of Japanese sport coupes. No other cars on the market so precisely channel the driving feel of greats like the Nissan 240SX, Honda Prelude, and Toyota's own Corolla GT-S. However, the Toyobaru twins have been around for more than six years. For 2019, Toyota wants to add a little spice to the familiar recipe by introducing a new 86 TRD Special Edition. The Toyota 86 started life as a Scion FR-S, but when Toyota closed down its youth marketing experiment in 2016, the brand's semi-regular "Release Edition" models died with it. The FR-S, along with other Scion models, was absorbed into the Toyota family, where it became the 86, a name that holds quite a bit of weight with the Toyota faithful. The switch allowed the 86 to build a stronger bridge to its Toyota heritage. As fans of traditional Japanese sport coupes will know, it was named after the famed Toyota Corolla Levin and Toyota Sprinter Trueno twins, sold in the U.S. as the aforementioned Corolla GT-S and bearing the internal chassis code AE86 (Toyota has a penchant for naming heritage models after old chassis codes). The latest offering draws an even more direct line to Toyota's rich performance portfolio with a nod to Toyota Racing Development, its in-house tuning and motorsports division. As such, the 2019 86 TRD Special Edition comes with suite of performance enhancing parts, including dampers by Sachs, grippy four-pot Brembo calipers clasping 12.8-inch rotors in front and two-piston units over 12.4-inch rotors out back, as well as unique wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. If that formula sounds familiar, that's because similar parts can be found on higher trim levels of the Subaru BRZ. However, Toyota representatives assured us that while parts were sourced from the same supplier, they're not identical. And unlike with Subaru's BRZ, the three trim levels of the 86 — base, GT, and Black — all have the same suspension equipment underneath. That makes the TRD Special Edition the only 86 model available with improved hardware, and it's available, according to Toyota, with is own unique tune. The company says that TRD engineers calibrated the dampers to their own tune. During a drive at Toyota's behest on a short road course at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, I found the dampers were somewhat softer than those of the top-spec BRZ tS, and on par with those found in the BRZ Limited Performance Package. In fact, the 86 TRD seems positioned to split the difference, equipment-wise, between the two but sporting a flashier aesthetic. The BRZ Limited Performance Pack rides on 17-inch wheels with touring-spec Michelin Primacy tires, while the 86 TRD, like the BRZ tS, comes with stickier performance tires over 18-inchers. Based on looks alone, though, we'd take either of the BRZ's tasteful black-finished …
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|MPG||21 City / 28 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||205 @ 7000 rpm|
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