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The Ultimate Toyota 86 Test: The Everyday Sports Car

We take the Toyota 86 to a test to see if it's practical for everyday use.

If you’ve been following our page and social accounts, you’ve probably seen us drop a picture or two of a Toyota 86. Our aim: Find out what it’s like to own and drive a 2-seater for a week. Amusing, to say the least.

Thanks to our friends at Toyota Motors Philippines, we were able to get our hands on a 2015 Toyota 86. What does that get you? The 2015 model comes with a decent Kenwood radio, albeit too flashy for my tastes, which performs pretty well. We also get a new shark fin antenna, which, honestly, should’ve been there since its introduction! Power wise, it’s the same 2.0-liter boxer engine co-produced with Subaru. 200hp is more than enough power to defend your lane on EDSA from those swerving busses, but not enough to get you into too much trouble. Our unit came in red, which screams subtlety. Add that most people assume anything 2-seater is a mean sports car, and you’ll have your share of admirers and haters. By haters, I mean every guy wants to race you. No kidding. I was on my way home from picking up the car at 1am, and a Honda Jazz that was sporting some solid kit buzzed me. He slowed down to let me catch up and floored it to get away from me. One of the highlights of my week with the car was when this Subaru STI decided to thread the needle between a trailer and my car during bad weather. I could still recall the crunch of his side skirts and wheels as he hit the gutter thanks to some standing water that pulled his car to the sidewalk. Ouch. There goes his ego.

Driving wise, especially where I live, the Toyota 86 is great; traffic is pretty uncommon, except during rush hour, and our roads are pretty well maintained. The manual transmission slots each gear nicely and was a breeze to operate. Plus that 6th gear provided some great cruising on the highways and help kept gas consumption at a decent 10-11km per liter. Driving to Makati was actually pretty pleasant, despite the buildup of cars at around 7am on the Skyway. The experience of constantly having to shift down a gear, crawl using 1st gear, then shifting up to 3rd only to shift down again in a hundred meters, was actually not as stressful as many people want you to believe. Of course, it’s probably because we’re much younger, which is good since we didn’t want to project any DOM vibes. EDSA was, unfortunately, pretty free flowing during our drives. Not that we’re complaining. We love driving stick, regardless of the traffic condition (Wait until we’re much older).

My laundry run was definitely going to be a challenge, but I had to take it on since I was running out of fresh shorts to wear. Who wears pants these days anyway? And jeggings? No thanks. I pull into the basement of the hotel where we do our laundry and I am greeted by 3 guards who jump to attention. I tell them I’m simply picking up and dropping off clothes at the valet shop. I’m sure they’ve seen me enough to remember what I look like, but it was pretty clear the car did the talking. I was immediately directed to a handicap spot. Uh, for real? I know I’ll be 5 minutes, tops, but why not give me the chance to take up two slots? Kidding. Since the guards were directing me with the same energy and excitement as a Pasay traffic enforcer who saw me turn from the straight only lane, I took the handicap slot. I rushed to get the laundry and process everything. I didn’t want to be on the next FB post saying: “Look, an 86 that’s in manual. Save this dying breed.” On my way out, I had 12 articles of clothing on hangers. Since the 86 has no places to put long items, let alone hang clothes, I do the smart thing and convert the rear seats into a compartment to lie the clothes. Actually, I wouldn’t even call these seats. They would’ve done me a favor if they had omitted the rear seats and gave me more cargo space instead. Forget the kids, they can ride in the minivan.

Next stop was Taft to finish some paperwork. As far as finding parking was concerned, it was a pleasant experience since it was term break. The other issue was that the parking attendant, also known as the guy who kinda looks after your car then walks away, asked for 75 pesos. Fine. Deal. No time to argue. Parking is always a pin in this area and this car makes me look more important than I should be.

As a gig car, the Toyota 86 meets my demands. I usually bring a single backpack with all my essentials; headphones, a few flash drives, and backup cables. Heck, there’s even space for a huge DJ controller in the trunk. Just don’t get the idea of bringing entire crates of vinyl.

Over the weekend, a trip to Tagaytay is always in order. The winding, country roads are where the Toyota 86 feels right at home. Long straights with good visibility for overtaking and planning braking points are where this car shines. Brake, ease into the corner, accelerate out of it. It never gets old. As a weekend car, the 86 is fantastic. Perfect for a quick lunch and coffee run. When used this way, it’s the toy you can kind of justify to your wife or girlfriend. Just help her get out of the car, though.

In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with the road manners of the Toyota 86. It’s easy to drive and provides more than enough fun for everyday use. It’s a looker, but not too attention grabbing. Just be safe and tone down the color choice if you don’t want the attention. Given the chance, the Toyota 86 will perform the duties of an everyday car well enough. Just don’t expect any trips to the airport or doing a month’s worth of groceries. But I’m pretty sure that’s a no brainer. Did I mention I did all of this with a gas budget of 1,200 pesos? That’s a definite winner in my book.

Credits to Jep Salvacion for the photos and editing.

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