Disguised 2nd-gen Toyota "GR" 86 spied

The 2nd-generation Toyota 86 could be unveiled before the end of the year, with production set to begin in early 2021. However, the next 86 won't be based on a rear-wheel-drive version of the TNGA platform and sport a turbocharged boxer engine... Instead, the Toyota-Subaru model will be an evolution of the current coupe. Although it will remain true to its roots, it will get a bigger, torquier engine!

Earlier this year, we reported that Toyota would replace its elemental sportscar, which was introduced as long ago as in 2012, early next year. According to a photograph posted on GR86.org, the newcomer will be introduced in North American market in “summer 2021”, which is around mid-year, and now, Instrammer Kystify has shared spy footage of a prototype of the 2nd-generation Japanese coupe undergoing a test run in Ann Arbor, Michigan (in the vicinity of Toyota's R&D centre) with YouTuber Matt Maran Motoring. 

Instragrammer Kystify spotted a prototype of the 2nd-generation Toyota 86 being driven in Michigan. 

Subaru in Japan stopped accepting orders for its current-gen BRZ (the 86’s sister car) recently and although Toyota South Africa still lists the current GT86 as available on its website (it was known simply as the 86 when the model was launched on the local market in 2012), it appears the next 86 will again carry a suffix, but this time it’ll be “GR” to mark Gazoo Racing's involvement in the newcomer's development and, of course, to align with the branding of the GR Supra and South Africa-bound GR Yaris.

Japan's Best Car Web previously reported that the newcomer’s dimensions would be 4 250 mm (length), 1 780 mm (width) and 1 315 mm (height), while it will ride on a 2 570-mm wheelbase. However – as is the case with the anticipated evolutionary successor of the Nissan 370Z – it won’t be underpinned the Toyota New Global Architecture (as so many of the firm’s passenger vehicles are) and won’t adopt a 2.4-litre turbocharged boxer engine from the Subaru stable, even though that was a possibility.

The front-end treatment of the Best Car Web rendering is particularly evolutionary, but the huge air intake looks purposeful.

As opposed to 2012, punchy turbocharged engines are now the weapons of choice in compact sportscars, therefore some enthusiasts will be disappointed that Toyota (and Subaru) will persist with a naturally aspirated engine. Yes, the newcomer will have a rear-wheel-drive configuration and a centre-of-gravity-reducing direct-injection 4-cylinder boxer petrol engine, but, ostensibly in a move to save on development costs, it will be underpinned by an updated version of the FR platform.

So what will differentiate the new 86 from the current car apart from an updated look and smatterings of fresh onboard technology? Well, not all that much, but that is exactly what Subaru and Toyota want. The "GR" 86, the spiritual successor to the legendary AE86, was always meant to be an elemental and balanced driver’s car… Conceived to be a champion of rear-wheel-drive dynamics (and all the tail-sliding fun it can offer), the car’s meant to have a low-mounted compact engine with natural-feeling throttle responses.

The front-end treatment of the Best Car Web rendering is particularly evolutionary, but the huge air intake looks purposeful.

It is also supposed to be affordable. The introduction of a turbocharged motor would not only require for better cooling, but a more complicated installation in the engine bay; it would produce more power/torque but also take away from the purity of the car’s original concept.

That’s not to say that the current car’s 2.0-litre non-turbo boxer engine, which offers direct fuel injection and port fuel injection (D4-S), cannot be improved upon, quite the contrary. Apart from the (now) middling outputs of 147 kW and 205 Nm of torque, the engine is not particularly free-revving, with max power being developed at 7 000 rpm and peak torque in a narrow band (6 400 to 6 600) rpm.

The "GR" 86 prototype seems to feature a fatter rear bumper, more pronounced bootlip spoiler and chunky wraparound tail lights.

According to Best Car Web’s sources, the upcoming "GR" 86 is likely to get a 2.4-litre engine from the Subaru stable, but it will be a naturally aspirated unit (FA24) that produces peak outputs of 162 kW and 240 Nm of torque (improvements of 15 kW and 35 Nm respectively). The motor is purported to, at the very least, produce more torque earlier in the rev band and will be mated with either an Aisin-sourced 6-speed manual, or an 8-speed automatic transmission, the latter of which will be particularly popular in the States. 

We figure it will leave enough scope for tuners to squeeze more from the package. A bigger-capacity engine will see the beautiful symmetry of an 86 mm x 86 mm bore and stroke fall by the wayside, but then, who are we to stand in the way of the onslaught of progress?

A taste of what's to come? Gazoo Racing unveiled the GRMN Sports FR Concept Platinum in early 2013.

The rendering from Best Car Web and the image of the (circa-2013) GRMN Sports FR Concept Platinum suggest the next 86 will look (as expected) a little more evolutionary than revolutionary, but the sharp-nose-with-truncated-tail silhouette is bound to endure. The Japenese site's front design includes massive air intake in the spoiler and a fluted bonnet; we also especially like the quartet of integrated exhaust tips (not to mention the cartoonish spoiler) that take pride of place on the rear of the Gazoo Racing concept.

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