Why is the Toyota 86 so ridiculously underpowered?

Speaking of automotive failures, let’s talk about the Toyota 86 for a moment shall we? First of all, my wish list for the perfect car goes something like this: small, lightweight, two seater, rear wheel drive, manual transmission, hardtop, great handling, and big power. There is one car currently on the market under at $50k or under that meets that criteria, and that is the Chevrolet Corvette. “But what about the Toyota 86?” you ask. That’s a perfectly valid question considering that it meets nearly all of that criteria, at a price far less than the Corvette.

Scion FR-S sunset orange

Although this is a Scion FR-S, it’s physically identical to the Toyota 86. Great looking car with the perfect proportions!

The problem is that the one thing that it lacks is the one thing I care about the most: power. The 2.0 L 4-cylinder engine in the 2016 Toyota 86 produces 200hp and 151 lb-ft of torque which, 15 years ago, would have been perfectly respectable and plenty fast. But a lot has changed since then, with base model Mustang GT’s and Camaro’s pushing out over 400hp with gobs of torque to go along with it. I’m not suggesting that the 86 needs to replicate these numbers (after all, it’s not a muscle car) but it should at least have enough horsepower to make us say “wow” when we step on the gas.

How much power does the Toyota 86 need to have to be competitive?

Exactly how much power it will take to make us all say “wow” is subjective of course, but based on my limited experience with these cars and the mods that some people have done to them, I’d venture to say that 300hp (to the crank) is enough. Remember, these are very lightweight cars that can be pushed around pretty easily so it’s not necessary to infuse them with huge amounts of boost and forced induction to have fun.

white scion FR-S

Small, lightweight fun! The Toyota 86 / Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ would be the perfect sports car – if it had enough power to go with it!

TJ Hunt is probably one of the most well known individuals with a Toyota 86 (well, technically, his is a BRZ), and Edelbrock was kind enough to throw on a supercharger on his car to help it come alive. TJ seemed impressed with the additional power – his post-install videos were fun to watch – and he did say that it was borderline hard to control with that much more power. He didn’t announce the final power numbers, but it was estimated to be just under 300hp to the wheels. That’s a lot for a car of this size.

Further proof of this is the video review of a Supercharged Subaru BRZ that subaruwrxfan posted today. That thing has a Jackson Racing supercharger making approximately 300hp to the crank and it certainly looks as if Matt is having a load of fun in it:

And as much as I want so say that a V8 would be an amazing thing wedged into a Toyota 86, I’m wise enough to know that it would probably be too much and would likely kill the great handling of this chassis

Give the Toyota 86 300hp from the factory, and I’ll buy one

It’s anyone’s guess as to why Toyota is holding out and not giving everyone the power they want from this car. Some were suggesting it was because they didn’t want to compete more closely with the Subaru WRX, but I don’t buy that at all. This is a completely different class of car, and in no way shape or form would I cross-shop these two types of vehicles.

toyota 86 interior

The interior of the Toyota 86 is nearly perfect. I want one! If it had more power of course…

I’ll even go out on a limb and suggest that a 300hp 86 would be one of Toyota’s biggest successes – ever. There are so many people asking for a turbocharged Toyota 86 that I believe it’s ridiculous for them to ignore the requests.

My 2012 mustang GT would be up for sale in an instant if that were ever to happen.