The Scion brand may be a fading memory, but fans of affordable sports cars need not worry. In North America, the fun-to-drive FR-S is still available, just with Toyota badges and a new name for 2017.
Called the 86, it will continue to emphasize driving dynamics as it has since first hitting the market about half a decade ago. Keeping things fresh in an ever-evolving market, Toyota engineers have improved this car for the current model year and added a brand-new trim package.
The most significant change is the 860 Special Edition, a top-end model that gains high-end features not found on standard versions of the car. Outside, this variant is dressed up with a unique rear spoiler, rolls on 17-inch wheels, features heated side-view mirrors and has LED fog-lights. A belly pan is also included, helping improve aerodynamics.
The 860 Special Edition will be offered in two colors: Halo White and Supernova Orange, the latter of which is a visually arresting hue that comes paired with black stripes. Making this an unusually limited vehicle, only 860 examples of each color will be built.
Opening a door and sliding behind the wheel, you’re treated to heated front seats that are covered in black leather that’s punctuated with orange stitching. This motif is carried over to the shifter boot and parking-brake handle.
The center console is home to a unique placard that signifies this 860 Special Edition’s exclusivity. Keyless entry with push-button start is also included, as is dual-zone automatic climate control. Beyond all this, nestled in the car’s compact instrument cluster is a 4.2-inch multi-function display with a G-force meter, stopwatch and myriad other functions.
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Regular versions of the Toyota 86 do not receive these enhancements, however, the entire range has been mildly improved for 2017. Hastening acceleration, the rear axle ratio has been made numerically lower; engineers swapped last’s year’s 4.1-to-1 gear-set for a 4.3 combo.
Naturally, the suspension has also been fine tuned. It gets a little stiffer up front and whisker softer at the rear. According to Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer of the 86 and head of Toyota’s Gazoo Racing Development Division, this move is designed to help increase traction; the back-end can squat a bit more under acceleration, allowing the car to more effectively put its power to the pavement.
In addition to all of this, the refreshed 86’s structure has been stiffened in strategic areas to reduce flex and, if you stick with the manual transmission, output has been increased by five horsepower, bringing the total stable to 205; torque also increases by the same amount and should measure 156 lb-ft, but again, this only apply to cars with three pedals.
Where these gains came from is fairly simple. Tada explained, “The main point is exhaust,” though the intake tract received some attention as well.
Finally, all 86s equipped with a manual transmission should benefit from improved shift quality. Tada said the gears have been more finely polished and that the synchronizers are of a new design. Additionally, a new kind of lubricant has been specified.
You can look for the 2017 Toyota 86 860 Special Edition at dealerships in about two weeks. With a standard six-speed manual transmission it starts at right around $30,040, including $885 in delivery fees. If you’ve got to have an auto-box, plan on adding about $720 to that figure.
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