Long-term update: Toyota 86 put to work as daily-driver and track car
Hello, Toyota 86 fans. Yes, it has been almost a year since I’ve wrote an update on my 86, mainly due to being busy with the work-life routine. It has also been a year since I’ve had the 86. I’m glad to report that it has been a smooth experience when it comes to fun little sports cars that’s also economically lean on the pocket.
I have clocked around 20,600 km in the past 12 months, it being my daily driver and grocery-getter for most of the time. Apart from its mundane duties, I have taken it on a track day at Yas Marina circuit, an autocross session with the Evolve club, and a soft-sand drift session in the outskirts of the UAE. Heck, I even went camping with it during winter. I didn’t even realise how quickly I racked up mileage on it, mostly preferring to drive it over my other car, a Ford Focus ST.
I still didn’t get the time to fix that nastily-kerbed front bumper. Apart from that, the running expenses are almost as low as that of, say, a Corolla. The 90k service was done on December last year at my buddy’s garage, with only 10K synthetic oil from Castrol for around Dhs 375.
Aside from that, mechanically it’s still stock, except for a catback exhaust and a K&N air filter. I found a used Agency Power catback exhaust listed on the 86 Dubai club page and grabbed it for Dhs 1,800 and threw in another Dhs 350 for installation. A K&N high flow air filter was ordered online for around Dhs 450. The wiring of the aftermarket rear-view camera was damaged and I managed to get a new camera including wiring for around Dhs 45 from eBay. Installation was done for free during 90K service.
I also got bored of its stock wheels and started shopping around for some nice set of wheels. I liked the stock 17-inch wheels, and few turned up and got sold on the club page faster than I could make up my mind to withdraw cash from the ATM. Perhaps, there is still meat left in my current skinny 205 section tyres hence thought it might be a good idea to change both wheels and tyres when it’s time to get new rubber. I then came across a local Sharjah guy on Instagram, selling refurbished rims and stumbled across JDM Subaru golden lightweight forged BBS RG 16-inch rims for Dhs 850. Yes, it’s not to everyone’s taste, and yes, it’s just 16-inch, but it will do for now till it’s time for new rubber. Eagle-eyed readers must have also spotted a new number plate on my car, which was inherited from my Dad’s car when he sold it off.
Finally, to wrap up the costs, I had to replace wiper blades during winter and both door stoppers since its ridges had worn out and the door would shut by itself (which apparently is a common issue among 86/BRZ cars after some usage). A pair of wiper blades and stoppers totalled Dhs 275, a new battery for Dhs 200 and some interior detailing for Dhs 270 (that last one not included in ownership cost totals). That’s pretty much it, apart from the usual running cost of fuel and washing.
Speaking of fuel, the car has been averaging 9.9 litres/100 km in this heat, which actually tallies with Toyota’s claimed average fuel economy. Now that’s impressive mainly due to our extensive aircon use during summer and acceleration with my not-so-light foot. It’s also an excuse to make that boxer engine sing all the way to 7000 rpm with its stupidly-loud catback exhaust. The tin-can-like body with very less sound interior sound deadening means the whole car acts like a megaphone for the exhaust noise, although the drone at lower revs can get annoying at times. But still, on wide open throttle and while downshifting with the auto box blipping to rev-match, the extra exhaust noise adds to the driving experience and makes the whole car feel more alive.
Now briefly onto its driving experience. Put it simply, it’s one of the best sports-car chassis out there. It’s something all the 86 fans know already; just enough power for just enough fun. The chassis is so adjustable and forgiving that I could try different lines approaching the apex during my track day. In fact, this car is a good starting point if someone wants to learn some competitive driving. This car is not made for upright grunt. If you want that, you’re better off with the likes of any of those V6 sports cars or a turbo hot hatch. This is an affordable RWD car with a perfect blend of just enough power to be entertained on a twisty road that begs for chassis balance. Almost 50/50 weight distribution means body roll is next to nothing, and well-planted while braking and approaching a corner.
So, there you have it; a small and lightweight, RWD, cheap-as-a-Corolla-to-run sports car. Apart from the Mazda MX-5 (which has less power and is more expensive), this car is a shining star on its own with nothing else to compare or compete with. Early used ones are popping up at affordable prices now, it’s the perfect sports car to have without the baggage of high maintenance and running costs that’s usually associated with such cars. If we think from an engineering perspective, to get all these ticked on the wish list is a huge accolade to the Toyota/Subaru engineers. Who else has managed to put out a front mid-engine, RWD chassis with Japanese reliability and affordability? Toyota says they benchmarked the early Porsche Cayman while chassis tuning the 86 which could be why it turned out to be a poor man’s Cayman in the real world.
This one seems to have pulled the right strings in my heart, so much so that I’m going to stick my head out and say that it’s the best car I’ve owned till date, in terms of driving experience. Let’s see for how long the little Toyota can keep me entertained.
Original Mileage When Bought: 79,890 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 99,400 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 9.9 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 0
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 725
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: Dhs 5745