It was Toyota’s re-introduction into the world of exciting automobiles and what an introduction it was. The car certainly looked the part with keen lines and a sporty persona to match. The only let-down for a few, was the two-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine. Recently, however, I found myself behind the wheel of two interesting Toyota 86s. The first was the newly upgraded Toyota 86 Limited Edition model and the other, a supercharged RGM Toyota 86.
Fans of the 86 know that the brand has kept the car simple to make it a driver’s car. The naturally aspirated 147kW/205Nm engine has to be worked and the slick shifting manual transmission allows you to engage with mechanical workings of the machine.
Recently, the 86 underwent some cosmetic enhancements, which many have dubbed the “Tupperware kit.” The new Limited Edition (only 86 in SA), has now been fitted with a large rear spoiler and new sporty body kit. The models are also fitted with a new pair of shoes, in the form of 17-inch aluminium wheels. These are the most noticeable differences in the flesh. The interior also had a minor upgrade in the form of an updated infotainment system and new stitching with embossed 86 logos making an appearance. The changes might be minor, but they do command a new level of respect as the car instantly grabs attention when out on the streets.
It’s a great car to drive but at Joburg’s altitude it does get robbed of power. And sadly that’s been the biggest criticism of the 86. Yes, it’s fun to drive, but it just needs that added injection of horsepower to get the heart beating. Toyota didn’t upgrade the engine with the Limited Edition model, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done. Enter the RGM Toyota 86…
Rob Green Motorsport’s Toyota 86
This beefed-up version produces an impressive 220kW of power, up from the original 147kW. The handy boost is achieved with the help of a Vortech bolt-on blower – imported from the USA in kit form. Forcing the air into the intercooler is a V-3 H67BC centrifugal supercharger and this particular unit is designed specifically for the horizontally-opposed FA20 Boxer engine. The package incorporates a generously-sized airbox and an optimised filter housing, which allows for additional flow, while retaining the factory cold air ram intake.
Having been given the opportunity to do some hot laps in the RGM supercharged unit, I began to understand why owners are doing the conversion. The power delivery is smooth and there are no nasty surprises when you hammer down the accelerator pedal. The linear power is achieved thanks to a Unichip auxiliary engine management computer, which is used to remap ignition, air and fuel requirements, ensuring consistent power and reliability.
One of the biggest complaints was that the standard 86 didn’t want to step out and go sideways. Luckily, the power update in the supercharged derivative allows the driver to kick the rear out should they want to. Don’t get me wrong… you still have to work it, but it’s certainly more willing.
Overall, the handling characteristics, the low centre of gravity and playful nature, make it a great, affordable sports car. And with the option to supercharge it and get extra power, (if that’s what you into), it transforms the car into a racy adrenaline machine.