Toyota and Subaru have an absolute and unqualified hit on their hands with the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ.
How do we know? After 30 years in the automobile business, we easily recognize the signs that distinguish this car from the background noise. Enormous anticipation in the year leading up to the launch, extensive coverage in the magazines and websites at launch, and – most importantly – “staying power” after launch. That means continuous coverage in the worldwide press after launch. Additional tests, comparison tests, track tests, owner reviews, creation of dedicated owner’s forums. And it also means the arrival of modification parts from aftermarket manufacturers.
We’ve said before that this is the car that will revitalize the JDM performance aftermarket. We’ve already started seeing turbocharger, supercharger, and suspension kits starting to arrive. And the 86 might also be the car that knocks the mighty Nissan Z down to size – literally. If reports are to be believed, Nissan will shrink the next Z in overall size and weight, adopting a philosophy similar to the 86 where very careful attention to weight and driving dynamics are the guiding principles. That means a new chassis and a performance 4 cylinder instead of a V-6. That means a competitor to the 86, although it would likely be a bit bigger and use a 2.5 cylinder 4 instead of a 2 liter.
But back to the 86. The word “Touge” (also Tōge) in Japanese means “pass” – in the sense of winding mountain roads. That means FUN for driving enthusiasts. But these types of back roads are also sometimes used as illegal race courses for street racers and of course that hurts the hobby. There is also a dedicated “Touge” race course in Japan that has been set aside for competition. Best Motoring enthusiasts will have seen it in use dozens of times.
One of our personal goals is to someday take a driving tour of Japan – not with a busload of tourists, but on our own in a GPS-equipped car. This is how we’ll get away from the crowded tourist spots and see the “real” Japan from the inside. And of course that tour will include scenic and winding back roads.
Which brings us to our videos. Here are one such set of roads. File them away for future use. For today, note how well the 86 handles the curves. Imagine yourself driving similar roads in your own country. That’s what the 86 is all about!