January 25, 2013

Horse 1432 - 86 Isn't Smart

The Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ has been named car of the year by a number of motoring magazines and newspapers but I'm just not sure about it. Most motoring writers get to drive a vast array of cars over the course of a yea; I only get to drive something if I ask someone who has one and even then, only if I ask nicely.
I didn't have far to go with the 86 but I suspect I took it on a test that doesn't occur to the professional writers: I drove from East Sydney to Mosman in peak hour traffic.

The first shortcoming of the vehicle made itself known before I even stepped in. We had to move archive boxes from the client's address to our premises. I guess that a cramped and awkward boot space is typical for a sports car but I've made similar journeys with documents in Ferraris; although the memory does blur, I still don't recall even a Ferrari being so difficult to get boxes into.
The other immediate thing you notice when you sit in the driver's seat is that the view of the front of the car disappears beyond roughly where the front wheels are. It is nowhere near as terrible as the VT-VZ in Commodore which you could only ever see the window line but the bonnet stretches out in front of you like some vast plutonian shore.

There is a nice sort of kick in the bum when you extend your right foot, as all four wheels bite the pavement all at once but it isn't as nice or as savage as a WRX which because it is balanced front-rear, doesn't want to wobble like a pendulum the way that the 86 does.

Then the is the bone-shaking stiffness of it all. I usually like a car with a harsh ride and I don't know if this particular example was set up for track days, or if it's just because this particular car is still too new, or if it's a thing common to all 86s but going over the cracks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge wasn't pleasant; the run down Military Road with its big cats' eye tidal-flow things wasn't pleasant either.
Sitting so low in the car does give you a feeling of speed though, even when doing 35km/h through a school zone. I also confess to feeling a wee bit claustrophobic and small as a Volvo B12R bendy-bus went past in the left lane too.

In short, I don't think I'd buy an 86 despite the motoring reviews. A hatchback or a ute with too much power is more my thing because the practicalities of such a car would make them both more useful. An 86 is more for those people who like to think that they look cool. I have never been cool. Give me an RS Fiesta hiding under the panels of a base model CL any day, or just give me a CL Fiesta, it'd be more fun to live with than an 86.
Just like Maxwell Smart who was Agent 86, the Toyota 86... missed it by that much.

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