Now in its second generation, the newly-named 2022 Toyota GR 86 has more power and better looks than the previous model. And it is fairly inexpensive for what Toyota provides. The 2.4-liter boxer four-cylinder engine gives you 231 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Though Toyota hasn’t announced pricing, expect it to be like its identical twin Subaru BRZ at $28,845.
But for some, that’s still a heavy hit. If your budget is around $20,000 or less there are some great alternatives. Here are six of them to consider.
1990-2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Everyone’s go-to affordable sports car, there are enough Miatas sold each year to give you a variety of choices and conditions. Though the four-cylinder engines available in the Miata are a bit down on power, the light weight makes up for it. The result is a little screamer-especially with the Mazsaspeed version in the NB generation.
Prices start at around $6,000 in most areas but obviously, the best condition will warrant a higher price. Decent NA versions can be snagged for between $14,000 to $20,000. These earlier Miatas won’t be cheap for long as they’re getting a following as a collector car.
2000-2009 Honda S2000
Still looking great after being out of production for over 10 years, the Honda S2000 garners higher prices. But it is already headed for collector car status so now is the time to pick one up. You might be able to trade up for a GR 86 a few years from now with an S2000 as trade bait.
The VTEC AP1 enjoys 240 hp from the 2.0-liter banger. The facelifted AP2 version from 2004-on got bored to 2.2-liters which you’ll mostly feel as low-end torque. The flat hood got a little more character but either version is sought after.
2008-2013 BMW 1 Series
While the 2 Series coupe is closer to the GR 86 it is too high-priced for this comparison. The BMW 1 Series available as a 128i, 135i, and 135is will run around $14,000 to $20,000. The 3.0-liter six-cylinder pumps out 230 hp.
If that’s not enough there is the twin-turbo 135i cranking things up to 300 hp. By 2010 the single-turbo 135is increased power to 320 horses. But finding one may prove difficult with so few made. Still, you can’t go wrong with any 1 Series version.
2006-2012 Porsche Cayman
Many will say a used Porsche is a better choice than a new GR 86. Who are we to argue? And they’re starting to dip below the $20,000 threshold as they age.
The 2.7-liter flat-six engine pumps out almost 250 hp. There is also the Cayman S with the 3.4-liter and almost 300 hp. These are barely into $20,000 territory but worth holding out for if you’re up for negotiating above that figure.
2009-2020 Nissan 370Z
Though later years haven’t sold nearly in the same numbers as earlier versions, they’re all great sports cars. For around $12,000 there are some really clean 370Zs. And don’t forget they come with a 3.7-liter V6 with over 330 hp.
If you can hold out for a Nismo model the power is upped to 350 hp. The upcoming Z is based on this architecture so it is a relevant, contemporary package-even if a 2012 or 2013 model. And they come in both convertible and coupe flavors, though the coupe works better for track days.
2013-2020 Scion FRS, Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ
Obviously, if you’re really hot for a new GR 86, the next best thing is its used version. As you already know, the BRZ and 86 are twins, and the Scion FRS was the predecessor to the 86. Same car, different name. There are FRS versions for under $10,000, but we’d be wary of these mostly used-up examples.
With the 86 not appearing until 2017 they are a bit higher-roughly $17,000-18,000 for starters. Externally, only small fascia changes separate the BRZ from the 86. Shoot for the lowest-mileage version you can afford, and definitely check the CarFax for previous issues.