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It’s an argument you hear, or more often than not, read, about the Toyota GR86. “It’s slow.” That being said, most folks who say that sort of thing have never driven one. Furthermore, if they did, they’re likely not the type of person that could handle driving the GR86 on edge. For some reason, it’s hard for people to comprehend what niche the GR86 fills. So, allow me to break it down.

The GR86 is not a straight-line hero, but that’s how a lot of people tend to judge it

Side profile of a 2023 Toyota GR86 sports car sitting in a California desert sunset
2023 Toyota GR86 | Braden Carlson, MotorBiscuit

In the grand scheme of things, the Fastestlaps dictated 5.4-second zero to 60 MPH sprint in the GR86 is not astonishing in a modern setting. I get that. The problem, though, is that seems to be the metric everyone wants to use to compare virtually every single car. Zero to 60 times, quarter-mile times, top speeds, etc.

Those things do not matter to the GR86. Nor does your sick Facebook video of your 40 rolls against a Focus ST on a public highway at midnight. The GR86 requires actual driving skills to get the most out of it. Much like a Mazda Miata, the GR86 is built to be driven on the very edge of traction through corners.

Fastestlaps makes a great example of this, too. Take Virginia International Raceway, for example. The GR86 falls between the Mark VIII Volkswagen Golf GTI and a Subaru WRX. It edges out the GTI by a fraction of a second and falls behind the WRX by a similar margin. The difference, though, is that the GTI and WRX are both widely regarded as fast and fun cars.

Undoubtedly, there’s no shortage of folks in the “GR86 is slow” camp that think they could hop in one and lap VIR in the same amount of time. That’s ferociously unlikely, but I digress. This whole article is likely to fall on deaf ears, anyway. Still, maybe there are a few of you to convince yet.

Is the GR86 a fun daily?

Closeup of driver headlight and GR badge on 2023 Toyota GR86 sports car sitting in a California desert sunset
2023 Toyota GR86 | Braden Carlson, MotorBiscuit

All things considered, though, the GR86 doesn’t necessarily need to be driven on edge to be enjoyed. If it’s your thing to just stab an accelerator pedal and go fast in a straight line for a few seconds, by all means, buy something else. However, if you’ve got some picturesque windy roads nearby, the GR86 is a fantastic choice.

Whether you’re slamming gears and pushing the car to the limits or just cruising through the windy corners with a bit of spirit, the GR86 is about as good as it gets for an affordable modern sports car. Personally, it’s a toss-up between the GR86 and the newest flavor of Mazda’s iconic roadster.

Ultimately, the moral of this story is: you should stop comparing every single car solely from on-paper straight-line performance figures.


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