The 2017 Toyota 860 Special Edition is, as the name suggests, a special version of the Toyota/Scion/Subaru FR-S/BRZ sports coupe. They’re pretty wonderful cars to begin with. They’re light; nice low center of gravity thanks to that Subbie-sourced boxer-4 engine, good braking, all that stuff.
Think of them as a coupe version of a Miata, and you pretty much get the picture. So what’s up with the Toyota 860 Special Edition?
Style Over Power
Sadly, the 860 Special Edition of the corporate siblings does not feature more power. There’s no turbo (which would have been easy to grab from the Subaru parts bin) and there’s no displacement bump (ditto). Sad really, since everyone likes this car, but the main “what needs improvement” answer is usually “more power.”
No, the “special” part of the 860 Special Edition seems to come down to a stripe package and a few extra gee-gaws. Or, as Toyota puts it, “the new 860 Special Edition that adds stand-out styling, premium features, and performance technology.”
“The 86 is recognized by enthusiasts for its impressive driving performance and its value-oriented price tag,” said John Myers, Toyota National Manager, Vehicle Marketing and Communications.
And yes, he sure is right about that. These things are inexpensive and fun. Mr. Myers goes on to say the 860 Special Edition will “amplify these core elements with an added dose of premium styling mixed with performance technology.”
The exterior of the 860 Special Edition gets exclusive Supernova Orange paint along with black body stripes, black rear spoiler, heated outside mirrors, and 17-inch alloy wheels. They say it’s “Supernova Orange” but to me it looks like a dull red in the photos. Maybe it’s one of those “looks different in real life” things, but we’ll have to see. The 860 Special Edition also sports LED fog lights and a unique aerodynamic underbody panel for added style and function. In that order, I guess.
If orange ain’t your thing, the 860 Special Edition will also be available in Halo White, and only 860 units of each color will be made. See, that’s where they get the “860” in 860 Special Edition. Clever, no? No.
The interior of the 860 Special Edition has heated front seats in black leather with orange stitching, and the same contrasting black and orange theme on the leather-trimmed steering wheel, shift boot, and parking brake lever. And there’s also a unique center console placard that signifies its exclusivity. Or, to put it another, non-self-aggrandizing way, Toyota made a run of 860 badges and bought some glue.
The 860 Special Edition also has a Smart key with push-button start and touch-activated door unlock, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, which are all nice to have.
“The 86 is all about driving performance,” says Toyota. And what do they mean by that, exactly? This: “Each special edition will come with a 4.2-inch multi-information display that features a G-force meter and stop watch, and displays vital information such as horsepower and torque curves, engine coolant and oil temperatures, and MPG.”
Really? Really!? No revamped suspension? No upgraded tires? No big honking brakes? No turbo plant pulled from Subaru’s WRX STi? A G-meter on the touch screen? That’s it? Argh!
Look, how hard can this be? Go to the production line where Subaru makes the WRX STi plants and pull 860 X 2 of them. Go to the Toyota parts bin and grab 860 X 2 big brakes that will fit on the uprights, and while you’re there, snatch up 860 X 2 stiffer shocks, springs, and sway-bars. Bolt all of these parts to 860 X 2 860 Special Edition models, paint half of them Primer Black and the other half Primer Gray and make sure all of them have windshield header decals that say “MOVE IT!” in reverse lettering.
Yes, yes. I know: Insurance and price points.
A little coupe like this cranking out around 300 horsepower would make the insurance cost prohibitive for your target market (the 25-year-old version of me). And likewise, the out the door price of a Toyota/Scion/Subaru FR-S/BRZ would also be beyond the wallet-range for your target market (again, the 25-year-old version of me). Yes, yes. I understand all of that, but in the words of Zora Arkus Duntov: “Screw that! Put in the big block!”
Sure, you may not sell many to 25-year-old gearheads, but you know who you would sell them too? People like me. Also, people like Chris Burdick and Carl Anthony here at 1 Automoblog Towers. Sure, Carl is a Detroit native, and the locals don’t take too kindly to imports, but the entire point is this: Older gearheads with more money and favorable insurance brackets would love this thing.
But, alas and alack, you won’t do that will you?
As it stands, the 2017 Toyota 860 Special Edition is available now, with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and Dynamic Rev Management technology. The price is a not all that out of line: $29,155 for the manual transmission and $29,875 for the automatic box.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.