2012 Toyota 86 TRD

I know you've been waiting a while for this.

We've driven the Toyota 86 during the Area 86 launch part last June. This time it's different. We're not on an open airport apron, pushing the car to its limits within a constricted course, even during the times we ventured out onto the runway. This time, it's about how the 86 behaves everyday. On public streets. In the mountains. To and from work. The real world.

When the 86 arrived for testing, I was quite surprised. It wasn't the standard model: this was the one equipped with TRD goodies... a lot of them. Toyota Racing Development certainly went to work to develop a package that perfectly complements the original design; a design that already looked quite stunning, considering that this was a car priced in the same range as many executive sedans.

The TRD kit remodels the front end for a sleeker look, while side skirts and a new rear diffuser complete the kit. TRD have also added a ducktail spoiler that, quite frankly, looks far, far better than the Aero package with the big spoiler; the latter was really a bit much for me.

Powering this 86 is a 2.0 liter Boxer-4 engine co-developed with Subaru (as was the whole car). Normally, like in the Impreza, the 2 liter Boxer engine pumps out 'just' 150 PS. Thanks to Toyota's help, not to mention their D-4S dual direct port injection system, the 2.0 Boxer in the 86/BRZ produces far more at 200 PS at 7000 rpm as well as 205 Newton meters of torque at 6400 to 6600 rpm.

I popped the hood, just to see what kind of TRD goodies are found within. Surprising to say, there's quite a bit. Of course, the customary TRD radiator and oil caps are there, but upon closer inspection, the intake gets a TRD Sports Air Filter, while there's a TRD 3 point strutbar that stiffens the front suspension and improves handling.

Look closer, however, and you'll notice that this 86 actually sits lower than the standard model. That's because it has the TRD sport suspension that lowers the coupe a bit, and improves handling. Completing the entire package is a TRD sport exhaust system with quad tips. Oh joy.

Sitting in the driver's seat, the 86 really hugs you. The seats are properly bolstered, and fits body types of all shapes and sizes. The orientation of the cockpit, err, cabin is definitely for the driver, with a large tach staring you in the face, a rather large steering wheel with a nice, full grip, as well as a pair of paddles straight out of the Subaru parts bin. I won't get much into the features, as this is really a car meant to be driven hard, though I'd say that I'm not a particular fan of the 2-DIN stereo they installed; it just doesn't match the interior, not to mention the cool factor of the 86. That would be the first to go if I get one.

The last TRD goodie in this 86 is the Push Start/Stop button, and by pressing it, the Boxer motor lets off a growl, telling me it's ready to rock. In urban streets, the 86 TRD is noticeably stiffer than the standard model. The suspension clearly sharpens up the overall feel of the car, so in terms of comfort, it's quite compromised. The lowered nature of the 86 TRD might not be for those who live in places with huge speed bumps, but still, it doesn't scrape over the typical speed bumps if taken gently. In reality, though, you wouldn't opt for this TRD packaged version if you didn't know what you're getting into, so in terms of comfort, that can be ignored; it's the standard offset to tuning. For me, it's adequately comfortable, though some might not agree. It's really up to you.

One thing you'll notice about this 86 TRD is the amount of stares you get. The kit really accents the body very well, and that's saying a lot. If I was to swap out something from the exterior, it would have to be the wheels. Perhaps something bigger and in gunmetal.

As it stands, this particular example of the Toyota 86, in bare form with the White Pearl paint job retails for PhP 1,665,000. We're not exactly sure how much the whole TRD package costs, but reportedly, it adds about another PhP 500k to the price tag. Steep for sure, but seriously, just how good could it be? Let's find out, as it's time to truly put the Toyota 86 TRD to its paces.

I head on out to Marcos Highway, and up towards the mountains. The geek in me had the entire Initial D playlist in my iPod plugged in, and so up I went to the Playground in Tanay. Floor the throttle and you can clearly hear the properly loud and proud TRD exhaust. On the clear, flat stretch as well as the uphill straights, the 86 TRD builds up speed well very well, but any car with a good engine and transmission can do that. When the 86 and I started entering the corners is when I realized just how great it really is.

Gradually lift off the throttle, load up the front under braking, turn in, keep it composed, and power out once you hit the apex. That was the sequence I was putting the 86 through. It did not disappoint. Not one bit. The cornering composure of the car even at high speeds is simply inspiring, and thats with the TCS off and VSC Sport activated.

Not once did I feel like I was being overwhelmed by the power of the car. It was always so controllable. Breach those limits and you'll get a little oversteer action (or, if you did it wrong, understeer), but again. it's manageable. Never did it seem like it was going to get away from me at any point, even though I was pushing it harder and faster. The 6-speed automatic transmission (now in Sport mode) behaves like a trained performance driver: blipping with every downshift and holding the hear a little longer than usual. The steering takes instruction and does what I tell it to flawlessly with every single corner, one after the other.

It's a tall order to accomplish, at least by what I can feel. We've pushed cars up here like the Genesis Coupe 3.8 V6, the MINI Cooper S, the MX-5, the Lancer Evo X MR as well as its chief rival, the Impreza STI, to whatever my or our skill sets can handle at the time. Even the mighty Audi RS5 didn't feel that good up here.

Yes, some of those cars will definitely be faster than the 86 had we timed them, but that's beside the point. The Toyota 86 -TRD or not- accomplished something rarely found in any car. This car seems to achieve levels of driving inspiration you would normally feel in far more expensive, far more powerful machines. Some say it's today's equivalent of the Civic SIR, but in many ways, I disagree. Be more ambitious. Think Porsche Cayman.

The wait has been long, and for some of you who have placed reservations at your dealership, the actual wait for your units are quite long too, but it's well worth it. Toyota took a long while in developing the 86, made sure the car was right and ripe because when they finally put it out for customers to buy, it's showtime.