Limited GR86 marks 40 years of ‘Pure Sports Car’

The Corolla AE86 launched in 1983; rear-drive sports cars would never be the same again…

By Matt Bird / Friday, 22 September 2023 / Loading comments

The anniversary edition is always a tricky one to get right. Change too little and fans will decry the new model unfit to mark such an occasion; radically overhaul a base model, on the other hand, and the risk is a skyrocketing price that probably puts it out of reach of even the most committed enthusiasts. Difficult. Especially when the big birthday in question is 40 years of the Toyota AE86, up there with the Skyline GT-R and Honda NSX as one of the best-known and most loved Japanese cars globally. Even though it’s a Corolla.

The GR86 40th Anniversary Limited appears to strike a nice compromise between the two special edition extremes. There’s a retro colour scheme, of course, white and black two-tone like the world’s most famous tofu delivery driver or red and black. There are logos inside and out, plus the Spark Red or Crystal White Pearl base colours are not available on the regular RZ (that these cars are based on) in Japan. A tiny detail, too: typically the lip spoiler can only be body coloured, while for the 40th it can be painted black. And looks very good for it.

But there is more to this, promise. Previously unavailable on the RZ model, the Anniversary Limited gets both Brembo ventilated discs and Sachs dampers, which feel like quite meaningful changes. Toyota also says tweaks to the throttle mapping have made for ‘improved controllability’, another encouraging change. Because they mean it skids better. Presumably intended to go alongside that is an optimisation of the VSC, aimed at improving ‘driving stability and safety performance during cornering’.

So far from the lamest special edition ever created – the red GR86 in particular looks really smart. Not that many of them will be seen anywhere, with just 200 Anniversary Limiteds to be made for Japan across both colour schemes and transmissions. Still, more GR86s in the world (even on the other side of it) is good news as far as we’re concerned. As is Toyota tradition, buyers will be allocated via a lottery process; buyers can place a pre-emptive order now, with the lucky few confirmed in November ahead of the cars being delivered early next year. The manual car costs 3.82m yen, or just £21,000 at current exchange rates, a premium of less than £2,000 over the standard RZ. Trust Toyota to do the anniversary limited edition properly. Expect many, many more than 200 people to want one.

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