Does an Automatic Dull the Toyota 86 Experience on Track?

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Sports car shine, in part, because of the connection between the car and driver, does an automatic transmission take away from that?

Usually, when you think of an inexpensive track day car, the Toyota 86 springs to mind. However, again, usually, it would have a manual transmission and some sticky tires. Of course, that’s the exact opposite of what was delivered to Speed Academy host Dave Pratte.

No, according to Pratte, the pretty Neptune Blue Toyota 86 GT parked behind him has an automatic transmission. It also has a set of Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires on it, because they are in Canada amidst a particularly rough winter season. Still, that’s no matter, because Pratte has taken this 86 to his home circuit, Toronto Motorsports Park, to see what it can do.

Toyota 86 Automatic Track Test Speed Academy

According to Pratte, he claims the optional 6-speed automatic is actually quite good. He left the transmission is full automatic, and he claims that there were no issues with the transmission doing anything he didn’t want it to. In mid-drift he exclaims the transmission to be “well programed.” And, indeed, we can see from the in-car footage that the automatic transmission keeps that FA20 engine charging for the red line.

Toyota 86 Automatic Track Test Speed Academy

Even with snow on the ground, and traction control off, Pratte is on it with the 86. We see him sliding the car around and, ultimately, knocking out a few clean laps, along the way.

The final lap time of 1:33.0 is respectable, according to Pratte, though, he suspects with warmer weather and conventional summer rubber, the car would be about 4-5 seconds per lap quicker. Still, he claims, the winter rubber has done nothing to dull the excellent handling balance of the 86, which he calls “a true driver’s car.”

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Jake Stumph is the Content Editor who runs Scion Life, and several other Internet Brands Automotive websites. He enjoys track days, drifting, and autocross, at least, when his cars are running right.

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