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Hit the G spot

LOCK up your sons and daughters ... Toyota have their mojo back.

Yes folks, it may have taken almost 20 years but like the magic ingredients of a certain little blue pill, the Japanese car giant has re-discovered the joys of life with the GT86.

Billed as the "sports coupe that will re-ignite your passion for driving", we were expecting to be suitably impressed, but weren't.

Nope -- we were positively blown away.

A naturally aspirated 2.0 litre, rear-wheel drive street slugger banging out 200bhp, a 0-100kph in just over 7 seconds and a top whack of 226.

Now, in this day and age those stats are indeed impressive but by no means astounding, but that's not the point.

It's all about the drive and how it makes you feel, but more about that later.


First let's take a little trip down memory lane. Cast your mind back to the heady days of the Celica, Supra and the mid-engined MR2.

It gave us mere mortals (I was a spotty teen back then) a peek through the window of the supercar and a taste of what it would be like to drive one.

Younger bucks will have had a schoolboy crush on the drifter's favourite weapon -- the Corolla TwinCam on which this new offering is based.

Officially called the AE86, it became an icon and despite the 25 years that have lapsed, the 1.6 litre, 123bhp, 4-pot still has a jaw-dropping 0-60mph of just 8.3 seconds and unlike its fancy-pants little brother, had no traction control safety net.

Paying homage to the master, the latest coupe is also a 2+2 formation but the name 86 is much more than a badge.

The logo (which at first glance looks like skewed squares sitting on top of one another) represents four drifting tyres which form an 86 shape.

The number is shared in vital components too that make this pocket rocket so special like the 86mm bore and stroke of the Boxer engine or the inner diameter of the exhaust.

Design-wise it's simple and to the point -- none more so than the interior. A fuss-free cabin is spoiled only by the garish colour monitor housing the electronic gadgetry like the CD/ radio, Bluetooth and sat nav should you want it. There's even a little digital clock that could have come out of an old Cressida which offsets the chrome nut-shaped dials for the climate control.

Low-slung, bucket seats with added whiplash protection offer great support and keeps your tush firmly on the ground.

Just as well because you're gonna need it. In order to maximise the fun one has to push the boundaries and the GT really only awakens from its slumber once the rev counter hits the magical 5,000rpm. The roar of the engine casts a spell and the greater the growl, the bigger the smile.

Thrash it into corners on country boreens and you're in driving nirvana. The steering is precise and perfectly weighted and on the odd occasion you encounter understeer (at full throttle) just one lift of the pedal rectifies it -- even on bog-standard Prius tyres.

So just what separates this from other Toyotas? In a word... Subaru, or should I say the Subaru engine shared in the equally savage BRZ, which is the one thing that defines this magnificent motor.

Downside? Only the cramped space in the back, but that could be an advantage as "Daddy has to nip to the shops all by himself".... !

The GT86 costs €39,895.