2023 Toyota GR86 GTS Manual Review

With interest rates biting harder than a deranged Pitbull, we are all trying to stretch our dollar further than ever before.

But if you’re on a quest for some fun on a budget and don’t mind contributing to the country’s runaway inflation, then the Toyota GR86 should be high on your shopping list.

Now into its second generation, the GR86 hasn’t strayed far from its original formula, with a classic front-engine, rear-drive layout powered by a high-revving naturally aspirated boxer engine supplied by Subaru.

And while the original 2012 model came with a deliciously enticing $29,990 price tag before on-road costs, the 2023 GR86 GTS manual tested here now commands $45,390 plus on-road costs (although you could save $2,100 by opting for the GR86 GT manual).

It’s also more expensive than its twin under the skin, the Subaru BRZ Coupe S manual which starts from $40,190.

Despite the price hike, the GR86 still represents great sports car value with no direct rival – except the BRZ and iconic Mazda MX5 2.0 ($44,020).

What’s the Toyota GR86 like on the inside?

Those upgrading from the previous generation 86 will feel at home in the new model, with familiar layouts and driving position, although there are some notable improvements in key areas.

The new Ultrasuede/leather upholstered seats are mounted slightly lower than before to free up more space and for an even sportier driving position with legs outstretched. The bolstering is just right, too, offering proper support without being overly snug. They are now 1.5kg lighter, too, not to mention more comfortable thanks to new seat springs.

The perfectly round steering wheel is now slightly smaller and come festooned with proper steering wheel buttons instead of gimmicky touch pads that seems to be the fad these days.

At the back, the rear seats are not only easier to get in and out of thanks to better ergonomics via a new shoulder-mounted seat folding lever; they have also been redesigned to offer more cushioning.

Carrying largely the same dimensions inside as its predecessor, it’s still a cosy fit back there. While shoulder room is acceptable, legroom is at a premium, meaning small children and pets only.

In terms of storage, there are two small cupholders along with two USB ports underneath the double-door centre console, usable door pockets and a glovebox that is 25 percent larger than before.

Boot space is rated at 237 litres.

Ahead of the driver is a fully digital instrument cluster that is simple yet effective, housing the speedo and tacho in the centre, flanked by fuel and temperature gauges on the right and a customisable information display on the left.

And while the all-new 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is bigger than the old 7.0-inch unit, it’s comparatively tiny in today’s jumbo screen obsessed car interiors. While it’s easy to operate with a trio of short cut buttons on both sides of the screen, you can’t help but notice the tired graphics. USB Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as DAB+ digital radio are standard but there’s no embedded sat-nav, so you’ll have to rely on your phone’s navigation app, which most of us do anyway.

We also like the chunky dials used for the dual-zone climate control with built-in digital reading and a row of rocker-style switches for other A/C functions.

While all the main contact points are made of high-quality soft touch plastics, there is also no shortage of hard plastics found on lower parts of the dashboard, either. On the plus side, the steering wheel, gear knob and armrests are trimmed in lovely leather.

What’s under the GR86’s bonnet?

Gone is the 2.0-litre unit of the old model and in its place an upsized 2.4-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder petrol. It’s still naturally-aspirated but pumps out 174kW of power at 7,000rpm, and 250Nm of torque from 3,700rpm – an increase of 22kW and 38Nm.

A six-speed manual transmission directs drive to the rear wheels for a 0 to 100km/h dash of 6.3 seconds, down from 7.6 seconds regardless of whether you’re in the GT or GTS.

Toyota says the engine is new, with increased bore and inlet valve diameters for more immediate throttle response, as well as a new lightweight resin rocker cover which replaces the previous aluminium unit. The upper section of the oil pan is also new and features a stiffer cross section for enhanced rigidity.

Only the cylinder block and cylinder heads have been carried over from the original 86.

Combined fuel consumption is rated at 9.5L/100km but we managed an excellent 8.3L/100km over our weeklong test, with plenty of long-distance driving.

How does the GR86 GTS drive?

Toyota haven’t messed with the way the GR86 drives which is a good thing. It’s just been sprinkled over with a touch more refinement for a more grown-up feel.

There’s still the light and short shifting stubby shifter, judiciously balanced rear-drive chassis that makes you feel like you are doing 180km/h around the bend at 80km/h, and talkative steering that lets you know where your nose is pointed.

You’ll also notice a bit more shove from the torquer 2.4-litre engine along with the familiar throbbing soundtrack of the boxer engine. The clutch action is still springy although it’s frustratingly difficult to drive the GR86 smoothly at low speeds. I’m not sure whether it’s the late take-up in the clutch or the slightly muted throttle response but try as I might, it’s nearly impossible to row smoothly through the lower gears. It does gets better at high speeds though.

The benefits of a bigger capacity engine are also evident as the latest GR86 will pull happily from the bottom of the second or third gear. As you head towards the horizon, the flatter torque curve also makes open road cruising less labour intensive compared to the old model.

Still, the manual would be the transmission of choice if you’re a driver, with well-spaced pedals that are perfect for heel-and-toe action (no automatic rev-match technology here).

Add to this the GTS’ sweetly balanced chassis and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres that provides mountains of front end grip, and what you have is a decidedly fun car to roll through corners on the weekends, yet comfortable enough for daily drives during the week.

What equipment do you get with the GR86 GTS?

As standard, the GR86 GTS gets:

  • Active bending LED headlights
  • Matte black 18-inch alloy wheels
  • 215/40 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres
  • Ultrasuede interior trim
  • Leather steering wheel and shift knob
  • Aluminium pedals and scruff plates
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Heated front seats
  • 0-inch digital instrument cluster
  • 0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • 6-speaker sound system
  • USB Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Bluetooth connectivity

How safe is the GR86 GTS?

At time of writing, the Toyota GR86 has yet to be crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP and is hence unrated.

Standard safety equipment includes:

  • ABS
  • 6 airbags
  • ESP
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane change assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert

However, the GTS manual misses out on the following crucial active driver assist system found on the automatic model:

  • Forward and reverse autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • High-beam assist

What is the GR86 GTS’ running cost?

The GR86 GTS needs a visit to the dealer every 12 months or 15,000km with the first five services capped at $280.


Design & Comfort


Performance & Handling






Equipment & Features




Our Score: 4.1/5

+ Plus

  • Torquier engine and no heavier than before
  • Handles better
  • Better interior presentation


  • Infotainment graphics feel old
  • Not enough engine/exhaust noise


Like the original GT86, the 2023 GR86 brings an analogue driving experience to an increasing digital world. It’s prettier and torquier yet no more complicated than before. Sure, the interior materials could be better and the infotainment screen could be bigger, but you’d be too busy carving corners to notice.

2023 Toyota GR86 GTS Manual pricing and specifications

Price (excluding on-road costs):From: $45,390

As tested: $45,965

Tested option:

Storm Black metallic paint – $575

Warranty:5 years/unlimited kilometre
Warranty Customer Assistance:N/A
Service Intervals:12 months/15,000km
Country of Origin:Japan
Engine:2.4-litre naturally-aspirated, 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed direct and multi-point injected petrol:

174kW @ 7,000rpm, 250Nm @ 3,700rpm

Transmission:6-speed manual
Drivetrain:Rear-wheel drive
Power-to-Weight Ratio (kW/t):141.7
0-100km/h (seconds):6.3
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):Claimed: 9.5/Tested: 8.3
RON Rating:98
Fuel Capacity (L):50
Body:2-door coupe, 4 seats
  • ANCAP not rated
  • 7 airbags
  • Cruise control
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane change assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • ABS
  • ESP
  • Reversing camera
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B):4,265/1,775/1,310/2,575
Boot Space (L):237
Ground Clearance:130
Turning Circle:10.8
Tare Mass (kg):1,228
Towing Capacity (kg):N/A
Entertainment:8.0-inch colour touchscreen, AM/FM/DAB+, Bluetooth, USB Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, USB, 6-speaker Sound System

Check Also

2023 Toyota LandCruiser GR Sport vs Land Rover Defender D300 Review

Off-road vehicles are no longer just off-road vehicles these days. Market demands have dictated that …