Toyota 86 base manual meets top automatic version

Toyota 86 base manual meets top automatic version

When we were driving the top-spec automatic version of the Toyota 86 recently, one of our contributors happened to be testing the base manual version at the same time. So I and George here were in the unique position to check out the differences between the two cars, considering there is a sizeable difference in price between the two.

In the UAE, the manual version of the Toyota 86 can only be had in basic trim. It’s fairly-equipped, with 16-inch alloys, CD stereo, Bluetooth, power windows, fog lights and such, so there’s not much to complain about. It comes with a soft-touch dash, cloth seats, padded door armrests and stitched faux-leather on the upper door panels.

There’s a fair bit more stuff on the top-spec model, which costs a whopping Dhs 30,000 more than the Dhs 95,000 basic model. Aside from the automatic gearbox, the most obvious external changes are the larger 17-inch wheels, the little plastic stick-on “wings” on the rear pillars, and the cheesy chrome trim around the pathetic exhaust tips.

If you pay attention, you’ll also notice that there is a different stick-on grille up front on the pricier 86, while it also gets LED-encrusted HID headlights.

The changes are a little more obvious inside. The top model gets leather upholstery and further stitched faux-leather padding on the doors and the centre-console, near the knee area. The plastic around the power-window controls is silver-grey instead of black. Also, in the boot, the top model gets a carpet on the underside of the boot lid, while in the base model, it’s bare metal.

There’s also aluminium door sills at the bottom, and the central rear-view mirror is of the “frameless” variety, but neither of them are of the auto-dimming type.

In terms of tech, the differences aren’t earth-shatteringly different either. The top model gets a nicer gauge cluster with a digital speedo, as well as dual-zone a/c controls, cruise control and a starter button. Interestingly, the cheap-looking stereo head remains the same, but it’s designed to be swappable.

We’ve just demonstrated what a good value the basic model is. But for an enthusiast, the perfect package would’ve been a manual that came with HID headlights and 17-inchers as options, but you cannot have them with the stick-shift version. You have to move up to an automatic to get all these features, which is a shame really.

Photos by Faisal Khatib.

What do you think?



  1. You can get a manual version of the full option trim here in Saudi Arabia

  2. i heard like subaru brz is almost same as this one … but what makes it different from this one ? which is better ????

    • Front spring rate on both car is different.. The BRZ is more straightforward on the corners while the 86’s springs allow it to do a little tail swing for those wanting to throw it sideways on a corner..

  3. Great comparo but, I think you forgot to mention the key less entry & start as well as cruise control. I wish Manual trans came with these two crucial options.

  4. I’d only buy the top specs with manual gearbox. Its a shame what AFM does with their level trims. Thats applicable for many models not just 86.

    • I would go for the base manual to be honest; it is the most logically priced package.. The rest of the trims feel a bit pricey per the specs..

      I would also understand if people complain about the finish of the 86 being that of an entry level car and that’s a reason I would go no further than the base model, its just sufficient in that state..

      If I ever get bored of it; I would consider dishing out some money to upgrade certain things like bigger alloys with stickier tires or a cool head unit.. But that’s my opinion..

    • It’s annoying that you can’t have the manual gearbox with climate control for instance. These are things you can’t really upgrade yourself to. AFM marketing strategy is “let’s not give the customer any choice. if you want toyota we decide what options you can have”.

    • As far as I understood from one of their sales people at the showroom is that:

      Because they have a high demand on their cars; they prefer to avoid providing bespoke or special orders for their customers so they’d rather just give you fixed options..

  5. Toyota 86 till now not available in QATAR and toyota Qatar doesn’t know when they will launch it 🙁 , BRZ already Subaru Qatar launched the car 4 months ago.

  6. the new v6 mustang costs about 110000 SAR as a starting price although they are different in driving feel but still u would find that the v6 mustang is a good bargain in power and size

    • Mustang has significant quality issues. Even the door panels are not even put together properly in a Mustang and they rattle when you close the door.

      The steering is non-adjustable and too large and the breaks are only adequate and do not give the driver any confidence. And I am certain that it will be heading to the garage more often than any toyota would.

      V8 has good power and thats the only redeeming quality of the Mustang. In UAE, the V6 starts at 130,000ish I think…which is too much in my opinion.

    • Practicality wise, I would say both cars are suited for daily usage..

      Though the Mustang is better in terms of interior space, people with a small family or having to rely on frequently getting 2 adults in the back seat..

      It is a narrow choice between the two cars; to de-bridge the gap you could compare running costs, depreciation and maintenance on the long run between the two as-well..

      The end the decision will be solely based on what you are looking for really..

  7. Im seriously considering buying this in another 2-3 months. I just want to know if the head unit can be upgraded from AFM itself or do i have to install it outside. I hate the head unit that comes with the full option.. 125k and no touch and go navigation!!??? Ridiculous!

  8. You get the higher spec manual version equivalent to the auto version in South Africa 🙂

  9. Greeting from Bangkok 🙂

    You guys made a good review & comparison between the 2 grades.
    And of course, I do love all your pics. Great job !

    I only have this car in my garage for only 2 months and only 237 k.m. so far.
    In Bangkok, the 86 gonna cost you around US$ 85,000 for STD grade A/T (tax 200%)
    Here we have Top grade A/T, STD grade A/T and STD grade M/T.
    Below is the link of what we have here, you can check it out :

    For me, the car is perfect. It draws a lot of attention from people whenever I go for a ride.
    I’m very proud of my 86.

    However, there’re 3 bad things I don’t like…

    1) No centre armrest. (already have a custom made one)

    2) The interior looks cheap (for what I expected from a US$ 85,000 car)

    3) The body doesn’t look so strong, quite thin. If compare with my previous Mercedes.

    Above all, I do love the design and its perfect driving position 🙂

    Cheers, hope you enjoy your drive.


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