driven to slow down
There is a certain madness in trying to subjectively modify a car, and endless rabbit hole of trying to improve how it feels. Along with the ND Mazda MX-5, it represents a rare machine for a company to produce, a company run on KPIs and targets, quantified data and benchmarking. This guide has only one objective. How to make the car feel better. Numbers will only be used to serve that end.
Development of the Original GT86:
Before we begin tweaking the car, we first have to understand how it came into being. It began from a Toyota board meeting in 2007 where concerned directors discussed the slowing growth of the automotive industry worldwide. They decided an affordable sports car was needed to introduce driving pleasure to a new generation, and assigned Tetsuya Tada to lead as chief engineer.
After initial research on grassroots enthusiasts, he realised the the industry was trapped in an arms race of quantitative variables on performance such as grip levels and zero to 60 times. However, the improved performance on paper did not neccesarily translate into a vehicle that was fun to drive.
The OEM+ Approach:
Starting from where Tetsuya and Yoshinori ended, we have to consider that the GT86 / Scion Frs / Subaru BRZ is a car that has been made for a wide variety of drivers and road conditions. Correctly deducing areas of compromise they had to make will be one of the keys to unlocking exactly how to make the car feel better.
Please note that if you are only looking to make the car faster, this may not be a good guide for you. Achieving maximum fun is what we are going for! Let's dive in.
Comparing my car to the car it was based on, the legendary AE86
Exploring areas of weight reduction that are cost effective.
Final Drive Selection
Exploring the impact of final drive ratio.
Grip Levels & Tire Choice
Road & track compromises and approach.
Achieving the right balance, while improving feel.
Moving towards neutral to slight oversteer setup.
Headers & ECU
Addressing the torque dip and maximising the engine response.
Small changes in other areas of the platform.
“For the 86 we didn’t set up any numerical targets like lap times or acceleration, We had one test driver, & after each set of tests, the only thing we’d ask was, ‘did you enjoy it’? "
Assistant Chief Engineer