An Affordable Sports Car Experience

We are always happy when a new sports car shows up for us to revi

ew. It has no effect on our joy if it is an entry level model or over-the-top super exotic. Granted, one may add to the excitement and anxiety, but the joy of driving is in your experience.

A joyful drive was exactly what was in our future following the delivery of the 2020 Toyota 86 Hakone Edition. While we will get into the full description of the Toyota 86, we think it good we explain the Hakone Edition.

The Hakone Turnpike is a road just over one hour from Tokyo yet seems years from the bustling city center. To some it is considered the Nürburgring of Japan, which means it is burnt into the car culture of the world as a great driver’s road. Not only is it a carnival of curves for drivers, it is also the platform for some of the most incredible views of Mount Fuji.

But the views are not why Toyota has placed the Hakone name upon this special edition sports car. It is to honor this famous road and the driving enthusiasm found while trekking the Hakone Turnpike.

2020 Toyota 86 Hakone frt

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Photo by Ron Moorhead

Which is a great segue into the Toyota 86. We love rear-wheel drive, two-seat sports cars. And while the 86 technically has a rear seat it would be best left to inanimate objects such as luggage and the like. So, the 86 fits our two-seat requirements.

The design and engineering requirements for the 86 were just as specific as most true affordable sportscars. Number one, be affordable, from there, make it handle well, have good performance and inject the excitement of driving in the drive. The 86 fulfills on all accounts. Yes, there are faster, better handling and more powerful sports cars, but affordability escapes most of those others.

The power is the job of the 2.0-liter, normally aspirated, horizontally opposed, boxer four-cylinder engine. Why boxer you might ask? Originally this vehicle was developed via a partnership between Toyota and Subaru. Apparently, Subaru oversaw powertrain development. Not a bad thing. This engine develops 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft. of torque. Not massive amounts of power but in the smallish stature of the 86 it performs well. Our question, where is the turbocharged version? That would put an even wider smile on our faces.

As appropriate, the engine’s power reaches the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission that would be greatly missed if Toyota bowed to growing trends of automatics only. Thankfully with the 86 they stayed true to sports car tradition keeping the manual. However, to have the 86 fit into a wider buyer profile there is a very capable six-speed automatic available.

The 86 Hakone Edition features an appropriately named exterior color, Hakone green. Offsetting the exterior are 17” twisted spoke bronze wheels and a black spoiler.

Moving to the interior we see several unique elements — most noticeable are the attractive tan and black Alcantara seats complemented with tan trim and black stitching. A tan Toyota 86 logo is embroidered on the passenger-side dashboard. The leather wrapped steering wheel has a good feel in the hands offering excellent control thanks to the capable suspension system.

Naturally, as we see in all current vehicles today, the 2020 Toyota 86 is equipped with a bevy of interior amenities. The passenger compartment will keep you and your passenger comfortable beyond the supportive bucket seats.

The 86 offers a multimedia audio system including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, with 7-in. touch-screen display, 8 speakers, USB media and charging port, hands-free phone capability and Bluetooth wireless technology with steering wheel audio controls. Clari-Fi technology helps compressed digital music formats sound authentic.

We agree it is great to have such great sound form the entertainment system. The real entertainment for us comes from sliding behind the steering wheel and venturing out to one of our favorite back country roads. The 2020 Toyota 86 is an automobile that shows its mettle on tight, twisting curves.

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