A welcome slice of updated nostalgia

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Fun. In recent years it’s been hard to construct a sentence where the word sits comfortably with ‘Toyota’.

The GT86 (known as the FT-86 during its far from secret development) changes all that.

Bland and reliable doesn’t sell to young, fun-seeking drivers, but Toyota is confident that the smart, rev-loving, rear-drive coupe it’s made in collaboration with Subaru most certainly will.

Weighing just 1180 kilos, you might expect the GT86 to make rather more of its 197bhp and 151lb ft of torque than the estimated headline performance stats of 140mph and 0-62mph in 7.6s suggest.

But this car isn’t just about raw power.

Its lean kerb weight will play just as big a role in the way it handles and rides.

A limited slip differential also fitted as standard, reaffirming GT86’s essential “driver’s car” character.

And, in this respect, all the ingredients look especially promising: quick steering (2.5 turns lock to lock), a limited slip differential and, perhaps most importantly of all, ESP that can be fully turned off.

The emphasis here is on keenness of response, agility and the ability to adjust the cornering attitude as much with the throttle as the helm, and 17-inch versions of the low rolling resistance tyres that can also be found on the Toyota Prius should ensure that outright grip never overwhelms the desire to play the angles should the driver so wish.

Back-to-basics fun was always at the heart of the brief for this car.

The driving environment should certainly help get you in the mood with its low-slung bucket seats and driver-centric control layout, not to mention the drilled pedals and footrest.

Disappointments? A short-throw gearchange that’s a tad notchy and a six-speed auto option that, while smooth, lacks the snappy alacrity of the best double-clutchers.

But that’s about it.

Of the two versions of this design (Subaru’s BRZ is the other), Toyota’s aesthetic approach has been the more conservative.

This though, remains a very good looking car indeed and if the styling isn’t daring enough for you, then optional side, roof and bonnet decals are available in black or silver to add an extra dimension to GT86’s already stylish and sporting appearance.

That robust sales await the arrival of the GT86 are virtually a cast iron certainty.

For all the undoubted excellence of cars like the Volkswagen Scirocco, the affordable coupe market has probably been waiting for a car like the Toyota for too long.

But, in a way, that only makes its timing all the more astute.

For drivers old enough to have been cutting their sporting teeth in the ‘80s, it’s a slice of updated nostalgia.

For younger would be hot shoes, it will show them what they’ve been missing.

It may not be the fastest thing from A to B but it was never meant to be.

In the GT86 the experience will be all about the journey, not the arriving.