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A sports car with an automatic transmission may seem like blasphemy to most car enthusiasts. However, many automakers still choose to offer their sporty cars with them, despite the small subset of people trying to “save the manuals.” One prime example is the 2023 Toyota GR86, which is an affordable sports car that is offered with both a manual and an automatic transmission. But is opting for the latter really worth it?

2023 Toyota GR86 front head-on shot
2023 Toyota GR86 | Toyota

The 2023 Toyota GR86 is a little slower with an automatic transmission

2023 Toyota GR86 interior with automatic transmission
2023 Toyota GR86 | Toyota

Let’s get the obvious part out of the way; the 2023 Toyota GR86 with an automatic transmission is worth the extra $1,025 over the manual version if you don’t care about its performance figures. According to Car and Driver’s testing, the 2022 GR86 model with the slushbox transmission was 0.7 seconds slower to 60 mph and down the quarter-mile than its shift-it-yourself counterpart.

No, that’s not that big of a deal if you only plan to hot rod around town and run errands in this thing during your ownership. But if you like visiting race tracks or pretending to be a race car driver at every stop light, that near-second can mean all the difference. In that case, save the extra money and put it toward some modifications or a couple of car payments.

The automatic Toyota GR86 comes with a couple of benefits

Opting for the automatic transmission in the Toyota GR86 does come with a few minor benefits. There are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, which help the driver maintain somewhat of a connected feel to the car. It’s most likely not as fun as clutching and shifting the car yourself, but many reviewers have claimed that auto shifts are “snappy,” and it doesn’t shift at the redline automatically when in manual mode.

Another benefit is that cruising around town is an easy affair, and when the roads get twisty, you won’t need to hunt around for gears if you don’t want to. Additionally, you’ll get an extra storage cubby for your phone, different drive modes, as well as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.

The GR86 in automatic guise also gets better gas mileage. The EPA rates the manual transmission model at 22 mpg combined, while the automatic version can achieve up to 25 mpg in combined driving.

Is the automatic version worth it?

2023 Toyota GR86 in blue
2023 Toyota GR86 | Toyota

Too many drivers and driving enthusiasts, yes. We know that there are a lot of “save the manual” types that will likely roll their eyes at that. But considering Toyota already made plans to sell more automatics than manuals, there’s probably a method to this no-clutch madness.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which model you prefer as long as it fits your daily driving needs and you feel amazing while driving the car. One thing is for sure about the 2023 Toyota GR86; you’ll feel great when you’re behind the wheel of it, even if it only has two pedals.

To read more about this car, check out our review of the 2022 Toyota GR86. Don’t worry; it had a clutch pedal and stick.


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