Toyota 86 goes hard-core

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When a car is wrapped in zebra hide-like livery and surrounded by its chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, former Japanese GT driver Masami Kageyama and several senior engineers at a race track, you know something is brewing.

On the day before the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival at Fuji Speedway on November 23, Japan’s biggest car-maker sprung the covers off a rather special Toyota, the GRMN 86, and handed the keys over to Kageyama to throw it around.

Toyota first revealed its intention to produce a lighter, more track-focussed version of its 86 coupe at the 2014 Tokyo Auto Salon, where it revealed the GRMN 86 concept created by its motorsport division, which of course stands Gazoo Racing Meister of Nurburgring.

Until now, Toyota has launched limited-edition GRMN versions of the Vitz (Yaris) and iQ, but a road-going car directly inspired by a Nurburgring 24-hour class-winning race car is a first.

As you'd expect, the GRMN 86 employs just about every modification seen on the race car, but for the road. It incorporates a mix of aluminium and carbon-fibre body parts like bespoke front and rear spoilers to reduce kerb weight, bonnet air vents for better cooling, stiffer suspension, drilled brake rotors with six-piston callipers, and grippy 17-inch Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R tyres.

Inside, the coupe gets a specially wrapped steering wheel, gear knob and hand brake as well as lightweight racing seats with greater side support and four-point harnesses. One necessity for a track-day car that appears to have been omitted is the roll-cage.

While a minimalistic approach has been taken on the 86's  naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine, a source close to Toyota tells us that exhaust and ECU revisions have added roughly 20kW, taking the GRMN86’s power up to around 170kW.

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As test driver Kageyama was jumping out of the car after some hot laps to head to a post-test briefing, we managed to corner him for a quick evaluation of the limited-edition GRMN 86.

“The car handles just like a Nurburgring 24-hour spec machine," he said. "It turns in well with loads of steering feel and lets the driver know early what’s happening at the rear-end, which makes correction very readable and progressive.

"It’s quick and very stable in high-speed corners and under heavy braking. I’d say the car’s at around 80 per cent now. We still have a little more work to do on rigidity and ride quality before it’s ready for the road.”

Perhaps he’s referring to the addition of a roll-cage, which would make the car a true Nurburgring-spec road car while adding to its cornering rigidity.

In the absence of concrete pricing hints from Toyota, one source suggested we should double the price of the standard $30,000 86 for a ballpark pricetag when the car is released in mid-2015. For a road-going race car, that’s pretty reasonable.

Article by Jun Harada - www.motoring.com.au

MRT has a comprehensive range of performance upgrades for the 86 (and BRZ) - check out our Power Kit range for starters.

Dyno data for naturally aspirated cars with a re-tune, right through to forced induction and flex fuel tuned cars.

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