Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ


Oct 12th, 2019

Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ

The Toyota 86, pronounced eight six rather than eighty-six, is an S-segment or sports coupé. Toyota introduced it at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show and started the first sales early in 2012. This 2+2 fastback is jointly developed and produced by Toyota and Subaru. It shares the same genetic makeup as the Subaru BRZ and rolls off from the same plant in Gunma, Japan. 

For car enthusiasts who prefer instant throttle response and linear power delivery, the 86 does not disappoint with its naturally-aspirated Subaru boxer engine. Plus, its front-engine rear-wheel-drive layout and low centre of gravity ensure a more balanced weight, better holding ability, faster acceleration from a standstill, the absence of torque steer, and excellent drifting ability. 

It wears several nameplates depending on the market, viz.:

  • Toyota 86 – North America (after 2016), South America, South Africa, Asia, and Australia
  • Toyota GT86 – Europe
  • Toyota 86 and Toyota GT 86 – New Zealand
  • Toyota FT86 – Nicaragua and Jamaica
  • Scion FR-S – USA and Canada (2012-2016)
  • Subaru BRZ

Subaru BRZ

The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are genetic twins and are a result of the joint development undertaken by the two carmakers. The engine used in the Toyota 86, coded as 4U-GSE, is a Subaru-sourced naturally-aspirated flat-four engine. The BRZ has it coded as FA20, but it’s the same engine using Toyota’s D-4S injection system.

So for their internals, the two models are more alike than they are different. The interior equipment and trims are also almost identical, with the Australian-released BRZ even featuring a Toyota stereo system. On the exterior, though, they had to be distinct somehow. The BRZ’s fascia features a hexagonal grille, while the 86 has a trapezoidal design. Their headlight assembly and fender vent are different, too.

The BRZ acronym is a way to describe the model’s main design elements. B stands for boxer engine, R for rear-wheel drive, and Z for zenith or high point.

Concept cars

Multiple concept cars preceded the 86 to show its development in various stages, almost all bearing futuristic design elements and the FT prefix (for Future Toyota). These were the concept cars in brief:

  1. Toyota FT-HS – unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show. Toyota developed this 2+2 front-engine rear-wheel-drive concept car, powered by a V6 with hybrid electric assistance.
  2. Toyota FT-86 – debuted at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. Toyota collaborated with Subaru and produced the D-4S boxer engine that replaced the FT-HS V6 hybrid. This custom-red sports car mounts on a Subaru-sourced chassis modified from Impreza. 
  3. Toyota FT-86 G – launched at the 2010 Tokyo Motor Show, along with Toyota’s aftersales G Sports accessories and trims. The concept car blended with the G Sports line with its carbon fibre sections, bonnet vents, sporty rear spoiler, protective roll cage, and 19-inch wheels. A turbocharged D-4S provided power for this prototype.
  4. Toyota FT-86 II – unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Toyota’s design studio restyled the front and rear fascia for a more seamless and refined version of the previous concept. 
  5. Scion FR-S Sports Coupé – a Scion concept co-built with Five Axis and introduced at the 2011 New York International Motor Show.
  6. Subaru BRZ Prologue – Subaru exhibited a transparent-panelled concept car at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show to display the boxer underpinning of the 86 and its siblings.
  7. BRZ Concept STi – a mock version of the Subaru BRZ shown at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. 

The concept versions never stopped coming, and in fact, more than ten post-launching concept cars emerged during the initial production run. It only goes to show that what we see at present is only the beginning and that the 86 is work in progress. 

Production car (2011-present)

The production version of the 86 is the culmination of those concepts that preceded it. Constant revisions in its aerodynamics design brought the drag coefficient to 0.27.


The engine that powers the 86 is codenamed 4U-GSE (Toyota) and FA20 (Subaru). It is a 2.0L naturally-aspirated engine based on Subaru’s boxer-four engine and Toyota’s D-4S injection mechanism. This front-located engine runs on 98RON and sends power to the rear wheels in either of two transmission systems with the following specs:

  • Six-speed Toyota TL70 manual transmission – based on Aisin AI AZ6
  • Six-speed Aisin-Warner A960E automatic transmission – modes: Sport, Snow, Normal

The gear ratios for the automatic gearbox are as follows: 1st - 3.538; 2nd - 2.06, 3rd - 1.404, 4th - 1.000, 5th - 0.713, 6th - 0.582, and reverse - 3.168. 

For optimum balance and road-handling, this engine sits at the lowest and rearmost position in the engine bay. It attains its rated power output of 147 kW at 7,000 rpm and peak torque of 205 N⋅m at 6,400 rpm. The 86 has a claimed top speed of 233 km/h, does a 0-100 km/h in 7.6s, and has an estimated quarter-mile time of 14.7-14.9s. Fuel consumption for combined driving is 7.1L/100km. 

Upgrading for the 2017 model year resulted in an engine peak power of 153 kW and peak torque of 212 N⋅m. The same version powers the 2020 model year.


In Japan and New Zealand, a base model called the RC is available for people who intend to race their Eight Sixes. It is like a blank canvas with simplistic trims, unpainted mirrors and bumpers, 16-inch wheels and without air conditioning. The midlevel trim is called G, which is similar to the entry-level GT model in Australia.

There were only two trim levels offered in Australia at the launching year – the entry-level GT and the top-level GTS. Both were available in manual and automatic gearbox versions. 

  • GT – came with 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, all-black interior, cloth trim, standard 6-speaker radio/CD, full-size spare wheel, sports seats, and leather steering wheel (adjustable tilt/telescopic). Standard safety equipment includes an airbag package (dual/front, knee/driver, and side/front), pretensioner seatbelt for front seats, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, vehicle stability control, traction control, brake assist, cruise control, and a trip computer.  The GT manual version came with a limited slip differential but not the automatic.
  • GTS – both manual and auto variants of the GTS model came with a limited slip differential. Interior trim was all-black leather and Alcantara with red-stitch accents. Other added features were dual-temp zones auto climate control, 17-inch alloys, heated front seats, keyless entry and drive, leather-accented upholstery, fog lights, Xenon headlights, and SatNav. The rear spoiler was not available.  

In 2013, the GT automatic variant received LSD as standard equipment, while the GTS gained its rear spoiler. Rear parking sonar sensors were optional for all models.

Special editions came later, including the Solar Orange, Blackline GTS, and the latest GTS Performance. The same engine powered these special editions.

The latest basic model carries several upgrades, including shark-fin type antenna, carpet, engine immobiliser, leather gear knob, multi-function control screen, and reversing camera, to name some of the significant additions. 


ANCAP rated all variants manufactured from 2012 onwards with full five stars. The evaluation criteria consist of the following: the protection provided to adult occupants, child occupants, and pedestrians, and the presence and effectiveness of safety assist equipment.


Toyota 86 received various awards, including the following:

  1. 2012 Car of the Year – Top Gear Magazine, Europe
  2. 2012 Coupé of the Year – Top Gear Magazine, Europe
  3. 2012 Best Driver’s Car – AutoCar, Europe
  4. 2012 Performance Car – Auto Express, Europe
  5. 2012 Car of the Year – Wheels Magazine, Australia
  6. 2012 Car of the Year – Carsguide, Australia
  7. 2012 Best Performance Car under A$60k – Drive, Australia
  8. 2012 People’s Choice – Drive, Australia
  9. 2012 People’s Choice Best Performance Car under A$100k – Carsales, Australia
  10. 2012 Car of the Year – New Zealand

Also, the D-4S Boxer engine (Toyota 4U-GSE and Subaru FA20) received an award as one of Ward's 2013 10 Best Engines.