The Toyota 86, along with its platform sibling, the Subaru BRZ, remain one of the most fun-to-drive cars money can buy. It is the current lone sports car in the Toyota lineup and carries the flag alone with its front-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform and penchant for oversteer. For 2019, Toyota has endeavored to make the 86 a bit more exciting with the introduction of the 86 TRD Special Edition, which adds performance parts, some unique styling flourishes.
The Toyota 86 started life as a Scion FR-S, but when Toyota brought Scion back into the fold in 2016, the brand’s semi-regular “Release Edition” models died with it. The FR-S, along with other Scion models, was absorbed into the Toyota family, where it became the 86, a name that holds quite a bit of weight with the Toyota faithful. The switch allowed the 86 to build a stronger bridge to its Toyota heritage. As fans of traditional Japanese sport cars will know, it was named after the famed Toyota Corolla Levin and Toyota Sprinter Trueno twins, sold in the U.S. bearing the internal chassis code AE86. The latest offering draws an even more direct line to Toyota’s rich racing portfolio with a nod to Toyota Racing Development, its in-house tuning and motorsports division.
The TRD Special Edition features performance tires, Michelin Pilot Sport 4s on new 18-inch wheels. Behind them are Sachs dampers and Brembo brakes, four-pot Brembo calipers clasping 12.8-inch rotors in front and two-piston units over 12.4-inch rotors in the back. The 86 TRD gets a new rear bumper, exhaust, and a front splitter/three-piece trunk lip spoiler combo. But what may be the most notable addition to the 86 TRD SE is the dual cat-back exhaust, which cranks up not only the volume of the exhaust note but its intensity as well, sounding deeper and fuller.
One thing is that it only comes in Raven black, with red interior accents, red contrast stitching, and the yellow/orange/red TRD logo embroidered on the dashboard and with a manual transmission. However it is adorned with wonderful vintage 1980s TRD stickers and badges.
It’s not a stretch to say that this variant is the best-performing version of the 86 that you can buy; the suspension changes and the added grip from the tires make it even more of a canyon-carving weapon. With sportier tires, the 86 TRD grips and goes. In low-speed corners or high-speed corners, it is your choice if you lift at all, with all that grip, you can carry a ton of speed without losing the line. The primary positive attribute of this car is its handling, and that is enhanced by the addition of the TRD SE. You can brake later, carry more speed into and out of a turn, and the suspension changes add a touch of stability at the limit that inspires confidence.
However, we are sure you have noticed, is that there are absolutely no bumps in power. Horsepower stays at 205 and torque at 156 lb-ft. The cars strength lies in its near-perfect balance and handling ability rather than a gift for sprinting. So while the 2019 Toyota 86 TRD Special Edition doesn’t offer any extra horsepower, it does enhance the car’s natural strengths: handling and balance.
Toyota has priced the 86 TRD to slot between its Subaru brothers. The BRZ Limited Performance Package comes with the Brembos, Sachs dampers, and upgraded, 17-inch wheels on Michelin Primacy tires for $30,500. The 86 TRD adds the exhaust, 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, the body kit, and 3-piece spoiler for $32,420. And finally, the BRZ tS replaces the spoiler with a two-position adjustable dry carbon wing, adds its own body kit, and slaps on pillow-ball damper strut tower bracing for a grand total of $33,495.
There is just one issue and that is Toyota is limiting production of the 86 TRD Special Edition to just 1,482 units. Which means you need to get to your local Toyota dealership now and try to reserve your spot.