Lifestyle

Drive Car of the Year is the Toyota 86 GT

Toyota's 86 is this year's Drive Car of the Year.
Toyota's 86 is this year's Drive Car of the Year. Bob Seary

THIS year's winner triumphed by delivering cheap thrills from an unlikely quarter. Who would have thought ultra-conservative Toyota would turn out such a great sports car?

If the automotive landscape of 2012 is remembered for one thing, it will be that the thrill of driving is alive and kicking.

The point was driven home by Drive's Car of the Year being awarded to the Toyota 86 GT, an unashamedly focused sports car, guaranteed to put a smile on the dial of those lucky enough to find themselves behind its steering wheel.

Anyone who thinks that choosing a sports car as the year's best is elitist should look at the value-for-money equation.

The Toyota 86 GT is Drive's Car of the Year and Best Performance Car Under $60,000 for 2012.

With a list price of $29,990 the 86 costs less than many mainstream family cars, including the cheapest version of Toyota's own four-cylinder Camry. In a global economy struggling to shake off the GFC blues, the combination of value and hedonistic driving enjoyment cannot be ignored.

Worried that performance cars are the natural enemy of the environment? Not when they're powered by a naturally aspirated (not turbocharged), 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine capable of delivering an official 7.8 litres/100km fuel consumption figure.

The Toyota 86 coupe was, of course, developed in conjunction with Subaru. That company not only supplies the horizontally-opposed engine and builds the car in its own plant but also has the mechanically identical - give or take some minor differences in suspension tuning and tyre size - BRZ.

Given the vast similarities between the 86 and BRZ, the latter was unlucky not to win the award but that's the way our Car of the Year awards work. The pair were both included in the Performance Car Under $60,000 category which the 86 won, largely because it is available at a cheaper price thanks to a reduced standard equipment list on the GT version.

Only a category winner can go on to take the major prize, so the BRZ missed out.

Take it from us though, the Subaru is every bit as thrilling to drive and those who want the BRZ's higher equipment levels, do the sums and buy it will not be disappointed.

The Toyota won its category by scoring heavily in each judging criteria. Its engine might not have the outright horsepower of some performance cars, but it provides the perfect amount to exploit the 86's nimble, rear-drive chassis.

It can be driven quietly and comfortably as a commuter car, albeit one with a stiffer than normal ride. On the track it can be easily provoked into lurid tail slides with its electronic stability control switched off, or remain commendably stable with it left on.

Equipment levels are not luxurious, but are more than adequate given the design goal of a low price and low weight for maximum performance. In terms of practicality, the rear seat is good for short trips (or shorter adults) and the folding rear seat means larger loads than a shallow boot would otherwise tolerate can be accommodated.

Five-star NCAP crash-worthiness indicates a safe structure, as does a full complement of seven airbags.

The Toyota 86 held its own over five days of gruelling driving and judging covering every available road condition.

Every car was taken around a road loop that distilled a wide variety of real-world conditions into something accessible for the judging panel, with its combined total of many decades of road-testing experience.

They included 100kmh highway driving, urban traffic conditions with suburban streets, traffic lights and school zones and pot-holed, low-speed, country roads.

The race track component wasn't just a chance to cut high-speed laps. It gave a safe and controlled environment to explore steering and handling limits, but also included disciplines such as a swerve-and-recover lane change exercise, a slalom between traffic cones and a hard braking stop from 100kmh.

All the time, judges were noting the minute details of each car's equipment levels, comfort, build quality, noise levels and all the other ponderables that determine category and overall winners. From all that, the 86 deserved to come up trumps.

The final vote between category winners to determine the overall winner was not a unanimous win for the 86 GT, however. Mazda's CX-5 received three of the nine judges' votes thanks largely to its brilliant diesel engine, sparkling dynamics and low fuel use.

The other two finalists that were debated heavily were the Kia Sorento SLi and Toyota Camry Hybrid H. Each were standouts and rounded out what was arguably the most impressive quartet of finalists for the coveted overall gong.

The Mercedes-Benz C250 CDI that took out last year's Car of the Year and again won the Best Luxury Car Under $80,000 category in 2012 failed to make it to the final four - just.

Speaking of votes, there were a few interesting statistics to come out of the overall testing. For instance, eight of the category winners were carryover champions from last year, indicating that on the whole, a good car can remain difficult to beat.

The five new category winners were the Kia Sorento, Porsche 911, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Mazda CX-5 and, of course, the Toyota 86.

The Camry Hybrid's win as Best Family Car made it the first hybrid champion, and also meant that along with Volkswagen and Mazda, Toyota had two category winners.

In technical terms, nine of the 13 category winners had four-cylinder engines, nine had turbocharged engines and seven were either diesel or hybrid powered.

The spread of dollar value for the 13 winners could hardly have been greater. They ranged from the $18,990 VW Polo 77TSI to the $262,600 Porsche 911 Carrera S.

And last, the 86 GT was the first Toyota to win the Car of the Year gong in the award's seven-year history, and only the second non-German one at that.

So take a bow Toyota 86. You were the right car at the right time, and an almost perfectly executed sports car at that.

 

The award winners were:

Drive Best City Car of the Year: Volkswagen Polo 77TSI.

Drive Best Small Car of the Year: Ford Focus.

Drive Best People Mover of the year: Honda Odyssey.

Drive Best Family Car of the Year: Toyota Camry Hybrid. 

Drive Best Luxury Car under $80,000: Mercedes-Benz C250 CDI.

Drive Best Luxury Car over $80,000: Audi A6. 

Drive Best Convertible Car of the Year: Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet.

Drive Best Performance Car over $60,000: Porsche 911 Carrera S.

Drive Best SUV over $40,000: Kia Sorento SLi diesel.

Drive Best SUV under $40,000: Mazda CX-5 Diesel.

Drive Performance Car under $60,000: Toyota 86.

Drive Best Ute of the Year: Mazda BT-50 XTR 4WD. 

Drive Best 4WD or the Year: Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo diesel.
 

Topics:  cars cars news motoring toyota



Science Festival seriously awesome

CALLING everyone who wants to see, hear and be a part of something totally cool: this is where you need to be this March.

Drink where the cool kids do this summer

There are a bunch of new bars open in Brisbane, make sure you're there!

CHECK out these new funky bars.

Discover Brisbane’s laneway gems

Brisbane's laneways will surprise you.

NOT all of Brisbane City is as it seems…

Top five things to experience this summer in Brisbane

Tangalooma is amazing if you're keen for a dive, kayak or swim.

THIS summer get out and explore your capital city.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls…find them on these drives!

The Scenic Rim is just one place nearby that you'll love.

BRISBANE isn’t all bright lights and city slickers.

Your boots are made for walking these tours

Brisbane Greeters tours are a great way to learn the local history of the city.

YOU don’t need a bike or bus for a seriously good tour of Brisbane.

Is Brisbane the new arts and culture capital?

Check out GOMA's latest exhibition - it's all about hair! GOMA 10 Ambassador Patience Hodgson visits Nervescape V 2016 by Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir (aka Shoplifter), commissioned for ‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’ at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. 
Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA

THE rest of the world should be envious of this line-up!

League legend lends a hand

Tweed MOL president John Strong, John Feeney and treasurer Paul Rimmington enjoy a chat.

"They do some great things in the community”

Surfing legends create waves for the future

Surf pumping at Currumbin Alley, one of the famous breaks that make up part of Gold Coast's surfing reserve.

"Many of the world's best waves are measured by Kirra”

Firies get new right to fight across the border

AGREEMENT: Crew with (centre left to right) NSW Superintendent Greg Lewis, Northern Rivers Zone Duty Commander Gary White and Queensland chief superintendent Brad Commens.

NSW and Queensland firefighters can now battle blazes across border.

Local Partners

MP says Surfside reviewing services but no changes

TWEED MP moves to allay fears important bus routes are slated for the chopping block and says Surfside Buslines is merely undertaking a review of its services.


BIG RIDE: Matt to bring out smiles for Smiddy

LONG WAY ROUND: Matt Muir raises his bike in triumph on his ride last year.

Fundraiser at Yamba Shores Tavern ahead of 800km charity ride

Production company desperately seeks men

Tammy Dundon and Melissa Quirk.

When you see the movie you'll think ours is even better

Sharky and the Caddman share their stories and music

Brian Cadd and Glenn Shorrock will play Twin Towns on Saturday, February 25.

Sometimes the best plans are hatched over a nice bottle of red

MKR rocked by satay sauce cheating scandal

WE ALL know what satay sauce is, right? Alyse and Matt didn't when they served it up on their MKR restaurant. Slammed by everyone, their reaction was gold.

'Nasty' Married At First Sight groom ripped apart on TV

Anthony gets torn down during the Married At First Sight commitment ceremony.

MAFS groom Anthony faces the music after fiery dinner party.

MOVIE REVIEW: Matt Damon's The Great Wall gets lost

Matt Damon fails in a scene from the movie The Great Wall.

Did The Great Wall get lost in translation?

Paul Murray listens to regions

Paul Murray is taking his Sky News show on the road to shine a spotlight on regional Australia.

Radio broadcaster wants viewers to 'turn up and fire up'

Why Hollywood’s siding with Brad Pitt over Angelina Jolie

Jolie may have the kids, but Pitt has custody of Hollywood

Tensions high at pointy end of MKR's round two

Things are really heating up on My Kitchen Rules.

Games are being played around the My Kitchen Rules table

Jungle Jay sent packing from I'm a Celebrity

I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Here! contestant Jay Laga'aia with Keira.

BIG friendly giant Jay Laga'aia has been eliminated from I'm A Celeb

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

Get Moo-ving to Mooball

The old Pacific Highway and Murwillumbah railway line cut a parrallel path throughThe thriving village of Mooball , looking North East towards Murwillumbah and Mount Warning.

An expansion plan has been approved.

What $11.9m can get you on Coast's most exclusive street

29-31 Wyuna Drive Noosaville Qld 4566

This is what a cool $11.9m can get you

How a first home buyer built house with no deposit

NEARLY THERE: Construction on the first house to home orphans at Umoja began in January.



Photo Contributed

His home will be completed later this year.

Luxurious living in Tweed

1/27 Charles St, Tweed Heads

Check out this week's feature property.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!