By now you’ve read all the motoring reviews, largely raving about how good the Toyota 86 is and why it is the bargain of the century. But does that mean you should buy one? What about the practicalities of life? How does it handle those?
Even if it is the bargain of the century, not everyone that buys a Toyota 86 will be able to rely on a second car to do all the other practical things in life. Take this writer, for example, who did buy a Toyota 86, but isn’t yet in the financial position to have the 86 as his weekend toy. Instead, it has to be his main mode of self-driven transport, which also means it will be used to go back and forth from the gym, give people lifts and be used for shopping. While it does a great handbrake turn, does it keep your golf clubs safe as well?
The luggage test
At some stage, everyone has to pick someone up from the airport and there will generally be luggage involved in this activity. The first thing to consider is that there is limited room in the back, so any more than one passenger will be a massive squeeze. You can fit (just) two large luggage bags in the boot and potentially another one in the back seat so long as no one has to try and squeeze in for a ride. You could fit plenty of backpacks in the back though. So in terms of luggage, yes, it’s more than possible, but limit your lifts to one person per trip unless you absolutely have to.
Practicality score: 6
The sports test
Whether it’s the gym, golf, tennis, rugby, canoeing, biking, skiing, whatever – you will likely want to cram some sports gear in the back at times. Whatever you do, don’t put roof racks on your 86. It completely ruins the point of the car. Thankfully, the rear seats fold down – you can potentially get golf clubs, skis and other long items like that in the back. Bikes? A bike rack or it won’t happen and sadly that will ruin the look of the car. Canoe? Not a hope in hell. Gym? How much stuff are you planning to take? Of course it works for the gym. Unless you do something that requires some seriously big equipment, you should be OK.
Practicality score: 7
Again, no problem so long as you don’t buy six months worth at one time or have an obsession with large CostCo items. But there is one thing you have to remember. The suspension is pretty stiff, so watch where you put those eggs and other fragile items.
Practicality score: 8
The parent trap
Dad needs a lift to the dentist. Mum needs to go and grab some groceries. It happens every now and then – their car will be in for service and you have to drop them somewhere. No problem? Wrong. The Toyota 86 is pretty low to the ground, so if they have brittle bones or aren’t great at movement, it’s not going to happen. If they are fit and love moving, this will be fine. One other thing to bare in mind is the suspension again – hope they enjoy bumps.
Practicality score: 5
The baby seat
Thinking of having kids? Already have a kid. If they are under the age of five they will be fine. You can even potentially get a baby seat in the back although it will be a hard task to grab you kid from it. If your child is over the age of five then there is a pretty good chance there will be no room for their legs, so the 86 probably won’t work unless you have super small or super young kids.
Practicality score: 3
The long drive
Wedding up the coast? Weekend away in the mountains? Just want to drive your brand new Toyota 86? With Recaro sports seats in the GTS model, how does the sports car fare on long hauls? Even with someone who has broad shoulders like myself, doing two hours in the car is no problem on a smooth road. Again, it’s the suspension that will cause you the most grief. Find a bumpy bit of tarmac and you might want to use that Bluetooth phone connection to book an appointment with your chiropractor. But everything else will be fine. And you will have stacks of fun around the twisty stuff.
Practicality score: 8
The odd shaped driveway
The worst nightmare of the Toyota 86 owner that wants to protect their investment. Odd shaped driveways with weird bumps and tight walls. The great thing about the 86 is that visibility is superb, so you won’t have any issues in that regard. There are no parking sensors though so it’s all up to you. Despite being low to the ground, you will clear more than you think. Don’t take that as a challenge, but be happy in the knowledge that running over a piece of paper won’t make you bottom out.
Practicality score: 7
The IKEA challenge
Need a new couch? Bed gone bad? Sofa screwed? Well, so are you, because there is no way you will be able to get any of that stuff back in your Toyota 86. Park it at a Hertz and hire a station wagon, or just pay for delivery. Sorry, you can’t have it all your own way.
Practicality score: 1
Damian Francis has previously edited Australian T3 and F1 Racing magazine and wrote for GQ Australia and Men’s Health. Unlike Nick and Trev, he has no kids, no mortgage and no wife, but lives happily on Sydney’s North Shore with his girlfriend.