The FT86 or Toyota 86 is certainly one of the most anticipated car of this century. Said to be the modernized version of the iconic AE86, this car had everyone clinging to their seats for almost 6 years since it’s announcement. Singapore’s Toyota distributor, Borneo Motors took deliver of the first ever batch to arrive in the Sout East Asia shores and wanted to do a launch for the members of the press and also use this opportunity to show case the car’s attributes and also experience first hand, to their own sales staff to aid them in their sales.
Being an AE86 enthusiast myself , I literally jumped at offer of given by PitCrew to not only drive , guide and instruct but also, as requested by the distributor, to drift it!!
A few days later, I caught a flight to Singapore and took a cab straight to the Changi grounds where set up was being done. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the sight of not one ,but a fleet of eight Toyota 86s .
The first I did was to pop up the hood to see for myself how low the engine is mounted. The engineers in Toyota and Subaru, had mounted the engine as low and as far back as they could to improve the roll center and weight distribution. What I had noticed was the lack of front wheel well which was replaces by plastic inserts. This allows bigger wheels and more aggressive caster that normally forces us to either knock the wells out or just cut them!
Interior wise, they had a nifty steering wheel which was said to be the smallest ever on a production Toyota car.
The dash was nothing to shout about and center console was literally dominated by the air con control!! I suppose they reckon keeping the driver cool is one of the most important factor in performance
They didn’t have to tell me twice to drive the car around to familirized myself with it. I drove the auto first; honestly knowing that this car only had 200 bhp at the crank, I wasn’t expecting much. However what I was most impressed was how good the steering was. Very sharp with tonnes of feed back. The chasis seems to respond very well to the slalom course and what I love the most was how comfortable the ride was inspite of the lack of bodyroll. Next was the 6 speed mannual, it had a bit more grunt and the gear change had a nice positive feel to it. The clutch felt a bit weak which was normal for a production car but the torson rear diff would be great if it was tighter.
Later that day , we were briefed on all the modules that were to be done and Ivan Lim and I were requested to do a drift demo. The Toyota 86 by no means is an easy car to drift! Even with all the electronics and drivers aids all turned off, it took a bit of an effort to kick the tail out! This is attributed to how well balanced and sorted out the car was. Besides having a torson LSD, the 86 had some positive front chamber dialled into the car just to make the car slighlty understeer at the limit!
Speaking of understeering, I was really amazed how well the drivers aid electronics worked. We demoed and encouraged the participants to unstablized the car , with throttle lift offs and abrubt steering turns at about 80 km/h, but it refuses to unsettle the rear!! We tackled the wet corner at speed but were greeted an initial understeer followed by a sharper turn in then understeer, alternating between the two throughout the duration of the corner which allows the car to actually turn unlike other drivers aid which just feeds you gobs of understeer thus forcing you to stomp on the brakes to sharpen the turns
TRD version… Bodykit , full exhaust system ,19 inch rims and 6 pot and 4 pot brake calipers!!!
. Besides the wonderful PitCrew guys and my co instructors ,driving the 86 made it feel like it wasn’t work at all throughout the 3 days I was there!. Though not a big fan of the looks, I loved how the car handles and behaves. I was so comfortable with the car that I was doing 3rd gear drifts in the tight space we had without any problems. However,the Toyota 86 by all means is not and should not be limited to only drifting. The balance of the car allows it to be versatile for any other forms of driving. With a bit more power, I believe other manufactures will have trouble coming up with something as well sorted out as the Toyota 86!!
Would I get it? You bet!!…..once I could afford it laa :p