The brain can process thought and reaction at a simply awesome speed. And I don’t mean awesome as in “These chicken nuggets are awesome,” I mean awesome in the true sense of the word.
Though in day-to-day life our mind does not often contemplate its own abilities, the rate at which we can process thoughts becomes evident in the simplest of moments. Misstep off a curb and your other leg will quickly plant itself before you can even process the thought that you have tripped. Throw a baseball at your significant other when they don’t expect it. Sure, it might still plant itself deep into their nasal cavities, but in milliseconds between them realizing the ball is going to hit them and before its contact to their face — that will likely result in a divorce — they will have closed their eyes, squinted their face to protect the eyes, turned their head and raised arms in an attempt to deflect in the incoming leather sphere.
The brain also processes thoughts at an incredible rate when you are testing the Toyota 86 Black edition somewhere on the back roads in the east Tennessee mountains and find yourself entering a corner with far too much speed. And immediately the brain tells the sphincter to tighten. At least that’s what happened to me.
My mind was instantaneously able to conjure up multiple scenarios for what could happen if I ended up meshing the 86’s bodywork with tree bark.
What would I tell my wife who would undoubtedly have to come and pick me up over two hours from our home? Would I even survive the crash just to be subsequently killed by my wife for her troubles? Would Toyota and other manufacturers blacklist me for shunting a press fleet vehicle? And how could a tow-truck driver or ambulance come to the crash site when I didn’t even know where the hell I was?
In these milliseconds my brain was also able to process that if I braked hard, and carried the remaining speed through the corner, I could perhaps make it unscathed.
To my delight, the 86 dove into the hairpin and remained firmly planted with only a slightly audible protest from its tires.
It was at that moment, when my brain told my mouth to smile, I remembered why I had chosen to take the back roads on my venture. It was also at that time I realized my underthings were thankfully still clean.
I chose to take the road less traveled because I figured the 2+2 coupe Toyota would be perfectly suited for the meandering mountainous tarmac of small-town northeast Georgia and east Tennessee. And the 86 did not disappoint.
As I traversed through quaint cities and places so rural that cows must have discovered television — otherwise there’d be no point in having power lines — the 86 handled each tight bend, every elevation change and the bevy of highly cambered roads with the precision that made the journey thoroughly enjoyable.
Though my scare in the unforeseen corner had me backing off a bit and turning on the traction control, there was no discernable understeer, oversteer or body roll. The steering feel was suitably weighted for thrashing corners and the suspension was stiff enough to handle them without breaking my tailbone.
It’s also good looking without being too flashy, even with a black spoiler and side mirrors.
While it is peppy at high revs, it’s not a terribly fast coupe. The Black edition I tested churns out 205-horsepower, and while it gives you a lot of noise when you put the hammer down, it’s not a great sound, akin to running an empty blender.
The brake feel is a on the heavy side, but I have no real complaints about the coupe’s stopping power.
The 86 has worn multiple badges since it was launched as a joint effort between Toyota and Subaru in 2012. It’s been sold as the BRZ from Subaru and was the FR-S from Scion until that division went belly-up.
From Toyota, the GT Black version I tested is the comes with dual-zone climate control, seats with leather bolsters, a 4.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, a spoiler, suede-like interior accents and lap time, rpm/horsepower and G-force displays as standard.
The interior, while by no means extravagant, is still a nice place to be. My four-hour journey had not left with me numb buttocks and a need to stretch my limbs thanks to the surprisingly comfortable seats and generally smooth ride on level stretches of tarmac. I also appreciated that the cupholder insert in the center console could be adjusted to not get your soda in the way of shifting the manual transmission.
There are two seats in the back, but they are only suitable for people who happen to be without legs. But that is to be expected in a 2+2.
There is also a decent amount of trunk space, at least plenty for luggage on my overnight trip. And because I’m a man that only really included my toothbrush and a change of underwear.
The 86 is enjoyable to drive, reasonably practical for a coupe and sports good looks, but the real party piece of the 86 comes covered in adhesive — the price tag.
Base models start at just over $26,000, and the top-of-the-range Black ups the cost by just $2,100. There is no other rear drive coupe even close to matching its affordability.
So if you are in the market for a coupe that won’t cripple your budget, use that incredibly quick-thinking brain of yours to get an 86.