The 86 has been on sale in Japan for just two short weeks, but it’s quite evident the effect this model is having in the car world, began well before sales actually started. Toyota has handled the introduction of the 86 very well, giving lots of previews to the media and handing over cars or bare chassis to the right tuners and race teams around the world, one of the best ways to advertise its potential. But after showing you all the crazy things people like Hibino and Orido are doing with their 86s, it’s now time to take it down a notch or two…
…and be a little more realistic. If you are a soon to be an 86/BRZ/FR-S owner then it’s the more sedate kind of tuning that you will be looking at and a couple of days before the 86 hit dealers in Japan, Toyota invited me for the first on-road test of the car, on the fast and twisty roads of the Hakone Turnpike. But more on that in a separate story.
It’s the car you see here that I want to concentrate on for now, the TRD demo car that was also present at the event. Aside from the fact that it looks extremely good aesthetically, I think it perfectly demonstrates one very important thing and that is how damn good the base car is, because just a few simple well thought out modifications have transformed the 86 into an even more precise driving tool. Let’s look at what TRD have done…
First up before you begin to wonder, no, TRD has not touched the engine in any way. It’s the stock FA20, which I continue to believe is, performance wise, a prefect match for the chassis.
200 HP are more than enough to have fun with, especially in a sweet handling RWD car like the 86. What you will find however is the first initial batch of upgrades that include a carbon fiber strut tower bar…
…which looks like it was made at the same place where Lexus makes the carbon parts for the LF-A.
I’m not kidding either, just look at that quality of the dry carbon and the machined metal mount. What you don’t see are the under-chassis braces that stiffen up the front and rear subframes in a total of four different places.
A TRD branded oil filter and oil filler cap are must-have engine room dress up parts of course!
Along with a panel filter to help the engine breathe a little easier, TRD have come up with a “Version R’ rear silencer which works wonders at enhancing the sound of the flat-4, starting with a deeper low-frequency idle and a slightly louder scream as the revs rise.
The TRD logo on two of the four tail pipes is a very nice touch.
And so it’s on to the looks. The TRD aero consists of a front and rear “bumper spoiler,” a term used to describe a bolt on lower section for the bumpers that injects a little more aggression into the design. The result is a more protruding front lower grille section and a built in splitter…
…with the signature TRD logo.
At the rear there are bigger contours around the exhausts, and even a diffuser to smooth airflow under the car and stabilize the rear end at speed. The TRD kit is finished off with more aggressively profiled side skirts and a small trunk spoiler.
The stock dampers have been replaced with adjustable TRD items that, thanks to lower and firmer springs drop the car by 15 mm, an already evident improvement on the normal ride height. Along with stiffer front and rear anti-roll bars the whole suspension has been fine-tuned to offer more precise handling and dig deeper into the capabilities of the brilliant chassis. The TRD guys let me take the 86 out onto the handling course that was set up and I was literally blown away by the changes these seemingly simple modifications make. Compared to the stock 86 the TRD was very flat through the turns and had a much more predictable and smoother brake away point when the tires lost grip and the rear end broke loose. I was also able to carry a good 10-15% more speed through the tight second-gear slalom section…
…partly because the of the grippier 18-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires which measure 225/40 all round. The 7.5Jx18 TRD SF2 wheels looked great against the car’s black exterior and thanks to a slightly more aggressive offset of +46, sat a little bit more flush with the body.
And then there were the brakes! This TRD/Brembo set up wouldn’t look out of place on a 700 HP Supra, so it may seem like overkill on a little 200 HP, 1,250 kg 86. But they are not, because they are phenomenal and if you take your car to the track this is exactly the kind of set up you want for piece of mind. There is no way that the 6-pot front calipers and 355 mm 2-piece floating discs…
…along with the 4-pots and 345 mm rotors at the rear would ever fade; they could survive a 24h endurance race without problems!
TRD pads and braided mesh lines complete the set up which had superb pedal feel and not an overly aggressive initial bite that some oversized brakes usually have, so you can heel and toe smoothly all day long.
The interior is pretty much the stock one you find in the top of the line GT Limited version of the 86, with nice red accents around the cabin…
…and the front seats.
The car was fitted with a TRD leather wrapped shift knob which albeit very nice, I found to be very uncomfortable to use as the actual stitching would dig into the palm of my hand at each gear change. A day of spirited driving on your favorite touge will no doubt result in a blister!
Another cool little touch for potential owners, if you opt for the keyless entry system, is the red TRD starter button, a small but nice touch to finish up the interior.
But it was actually the door stabilizer that impressed me the most. It’s a very simple upgrade, so simple that most would have probably never though about it. The idea behind it is to use the door as a stiffening implement, so that once it closers it slides this spring-loaded metal section behind the lock grab…
…against this teflon-like plastic part on the door itself. This pushes the door slightly against its hinges further stiffening up the chassis. The result is a better and more direct steering feel though the corners. Every little helps as they say, and TRD have actually patented this little gadget.
So there you have it, a first street-oriented tune for the 86, one that further enhances the capabilities the 86 has within. This is just the beginning!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare
Bought the BRZ this weekend and it drives like a dream. Forget power-- it's fun driving this car at 90 or 30mph.
That being said, I'm very curious to see the capacity of the STI version when it comes out this year. I would've held off 'til then but this barely made it into my budget. We shall see, we shall see.
Umm... Cool car, but whoever wrote this shouldn't be writing professional articles; theres like a dozen grammatical/typographical errors.
great shot..well balanced car...the mods are fun enough for daily drive and lots of room for tuners to tweak..love the door stiffening part..wonder if it can fit in older generation toyota...
Love the look of the car, just disappointed in that strut brace, could've been a better design even in that limited space...
Looks perfect, and bit of an overkill this way. Even though i'm not a Toyota fan, they absolutely did a great job. I hope Nissan puts the same effort. Still though I don't understand 2 things:
1) Why not mod the engine? Is there a weakness or they still haven't finished development? specifically for bolt on parts, like a supercharger for example.
2) Why not move the engine just a bit further in the back to achieve 50/50 weight distribution. There's lots of space.
And Dino are you sure the front upper strut bar is made of carbon? Looks like paint transfer to me that looks like carbon and a clear coat on the top.
with all these safety regulations we'd all be wishing the can yank all of that $hit and strip it down barebones all to give us a car say 1700 lbs. should feel lucky that this car is not super heavy and bloated like most newer sports cars although they up the transplant from factory to move that weight. dont u guys get it? they know peeps want to mod and make cars fast so they came out with the best base car to start with and its handling. from there its a better base to add more power than to focus on making your car handle to start with. its setting the world up for something like the 90s again. 4 cylinder boost is going to be the rage. this next decade we will see boost come back. i can guarantee it. toyota wont boost from factory cuz theyd have to up the price and it doesnt make sense on every account. leave it to the 30 yr old buyers to do what they want. its brilliant marketing.
They didn't do anything to the FA20 because, well... Because you really can't make any more power from an N/A Subaru motor without adding a turbo. Anyone who has owned an RS or a 2.5i knows this.
haha! those door pads are a touch of genius! must say though that it can do with a bit more of a drop....but that just me!
So sweet. I've just put $$ down for a black BRZ and am sooooooo hanging out to start tweaking. Those door stabilizers are trick.
I like TRD's simple tuning package. I think a lot of people get the wrong idea about the new 86. I don't expect it to be fast, just like I don't expect a Miata to be fast. It's all about having a lot of fun in a very well-balanced car.
Reverse on the car is top left? I'd assume it to be in the bottom right. That's interesting!
The car is so subtle, yet so nice. Props to TRD.
i love this car, but 1250kg that's still quite heavy if you ask me. I mean my 4 door Cefiro is only 100kg more, has 2 more cylinders / a turbo / intercooler, 2 extra doors and much more room. Not complaining, but just thought it'd be lighter. Thanks for the write-up would love to hear this thing and see how quick it brakes with those bad boy calipers
That DUCKBILL! so nice and classy, nice throwback to TRD bits for the AE86. So many nice touches. Door stiffening bits is a fantastic idea.