You would think testing a rear-wheel drive sports car in the cold of January might be a bad idea, but you’d be wrong.
Case in point: The 2019 Toyota 86 TRD Special Edition, which handles Old Man Winter just fine and any slippage of the rear end was almost exclusively intentional – which brought a smile to the 5 year old in the back seat (not to mention the driver).
Of course, the 86 TRD’s power had to be kept in check and the aero kit on the special edition meant being extra cautious around potholes and other winter obstacles.
What that revealed was that the 86 is actually not a terrible winter ride!
But if you want to get your hands on this particular model of the 86, you better move fast. Only 50 TRD Special Editions are destined for the Canadian market.
With a starting price of $38,220.00, it is based on the manual transmission GT trim, but gets some significant additions inside and out. The TRD comes with Brembo brakes and SACHS dampers, as well as a TRD performance dual exhaust and the aforementioned aero kit (front and back). It also gets unique 18-inch wheels that in summer would be equipped with P215/40 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.
Interior changes include a red stitching in the cabin, red seat belts in the front and TRD interior trim and badges.
Your exterior colour choice is limited to a Raven black.
Like all other 86 models, the TRD Special Edition has the 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine that, when paired with the 6-speed manual gearbox, delivers 205 horsepower and 156 ft-lb of torque. Opting for the six-speed automatic reduces power to 200 HP and 151 ft-lb of torque.
Fuel economy is estimated at a combined 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres, a figure that was matched during our week with the 86 TRD.
On the outside, the 86 TRD is distinguishable thanks to the 18-inch wheels and the TRD badging on the front fascia, while at the rear the letters are embossed in the lower bumper between the dual exhausts.
The interior is a cozy environment, and getting in and out of the sport seats could be challenging for some.
The materials in the cabin are excellent, with Alcantara suede material on the doors, part of the dash and the headliner.
The centre stack’s controls are neatly divided into a row of buttons for things like the air conditioning and rear window defroster, with the dials for the temperature and fan speeds right above it.
The finishing around the centre stack is a nice carbon-fibre look, and the red/black steering wheel is a nice touch.
If you are looking for heated seats, though, you are out of luck despite the fact they are available on the GT trim on which the TRD is based. Thankfully, despite an early January test, the seats never really felt cold.
While cargo space is limited in the trunk, the rear seats of the 86 actually fold flat to allow for longer items to be carried when needed.
The infotainment system has the basics, but don’t look for too many bells and whistles.
With eight speakers, it includes Bluetooth, voice control, and a USB and auxiliary jack. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the screen and the controls on it are pretty basic.
But those speakers make sure the music is loud and clear over the rather loud rumbled of the exhaust note.
And unlike the majority of cars these days, don’t look to the central screen for a view from the rear-view camera when backing up. Instead, it’s a tiny image that appears in the corner of the rear-view mirror. Takes some getting used to, but it does the job.
When out on the road, the 86 has plenty of power at 205 hp, and moving through the six gears of the manual gearbox gets you moving in a hurry.
As mentioned, the winter driving meant being a little gentler on the throttle, especially when coming out of corners or on snow-covered roads. The back end would dance a little bit, but the traction aids quickly kicked in to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Even in less than ideal conditions, the 86’s responsive engine gets it off the line effortlessly and it has a 0 to 100 km/h time of just over seven seconds.
If it handled winter conditions this admirably, one can only assume that on proper summer tires and under ideal conditions, this is a car that will be right at home on some twisty roads.
2019 Toyota 86 TRD SE
Price as tested: $40,096.70
Configuration: Front engine/Rear-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder/ 6-speed manual
Power/torque: 205 horsepower/ 156 ft-lb of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular (50 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 9.9 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 9.9 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Subaru BRZ, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z