The 2022 Toyota GR 86 has broken cover, at last, accompanied by just enough Initial D allusions to show Toyota knows why we all want it so much. To address the biggest criticism of the first-gen 86, the 2022 model has more power and hasn't sacrificed its transmission options of an approachable automatic and a more technical manual transmission. Unlike many modern sports cars, though, the 86's automatic is the lower-performing of the two. It lunges from zero to 60 mph 0.5 seconds slower, despite automatics typically being the pinnacle of performance nowadays.
Update: June 7, 10:20 a.m. ET: A Toyota spokesperson offered The Drive an official explanation for the performance differential. We have included their statement below.
Let's first be clear that this is not a phenomenon exclusive to the redesigned 86 or its Subaru sibling the BRZ. The first-gen 86 with an automatic was 1.0 seconds slower to 60 mph than the manual, taking 8.0 seconds to the stick shift's 7.0, according to Toyota. Extra horsepower in the 2022 cars has shortened these sprints markedly, pulling the manual car down to 6.1 seconds and the automatic to 6.6 despite both being six-speed gearboxes.
This performance gulf could be down to any one or a combination of multiple factors, the least likely of which is the state of engine tune. Carmakers sometimes offer different tunes for automatic and manual transmissions, the former typically being the weaker of the two, though Toyota acknowledged no such difference between the 86's auto and manual versions. Far more likely, we believe, is that the difference is down to the transmissions themselves.
Toyota hasn't yet disclosed 2022 models' gear ratios, though the first-gen automatic models had slightly longer gearing, hampering acceleration. It's also possible the auto's performance also suffers due to the 2022's improved internal clutches and stronger gears, which enhance its torque capacity, but might also increase its rotating mass, therefore sapping wheel horsepower. So, even if the new 86's auto doesn't shift as sluggishly as the Camry TRD's, the result is still a slightly slower sports car.
"The difference in 0-60 times comes from two primary factors. First, the MT is lighter than the AT, so it's pushing less weight," explained Toyota spokesperson Paul Hogard. "The other factor is that an MT is more efficient at transferring power to the wheels, since an MT is simpler and uses gears rather than fluid to transfer power it can climb to 60 more quickly."
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