Pieces of eight

STOCK V MODDED Toyota 86 GTS v turbocharged ROH 86

by DAVID MORLEY pics CRISTIAN BRUNELLI

Morley pulls on a skid lid and talks us through the template for a tough track terror

IGHT SECONDS. Doesn’t sound like a long time, but some interesting things can happen in those eight ticks of the clock.

You can score a winning bullride in as little as eight seconds, and somewhere in the world a handgun is manufactured every eight seconds. Some research also suggests that a person surfing the web has roughly an eight-second attention span (the research might have had more to say, but I got bored and clicked through). Point is, eight seconds can be a meaningful amount of time. And at the tight, technical Winton circuit in North East Victoria, eight seconds is a freaking lifetime.

Car A doing 1:39s will put a lap on Car B going eight seconds a lap slower on lap 14. On those same numbers, Car A will be something like 220m farther up the track after the first flying lap. Please welcome to the stage Car A and Car B.

E Toyota’s 86 is a well-known entity these days and is notable for offering a bargain-priced entrée into track-day car ownership. The performance is there if you work at it, and the deliberately low-grip tyres keep it interesting. But let’s say that, after a year or two of monstering the VTEC Hondas at track days and hill climbs, you get the urge to go a bit faster. How much faster? That’s up to you, obviously, but if the answer is ‘much faster’ then you need to start looking at mods similar to the ones on Car A you see here, the ROH Wheels/V-Sport 86.

Now, you don’t have to go the whole hog and carry out every mod on this car. But on the basis that a laptime is all about three things – stopping, going and turning – then we can look at each of those departments, piece by piece.

To be completely honest, I reckon the anchors are the most disappointing aspect of the stock 86. On the dragstrip they were able to haul things down from 100km/h in 38.3m, but to me that says more about the kerb weight of the 86 than the brakes themselves.

Brakes? You could barrel into turns all day and the pedal would feel the same

And at Winton, they were really only good for one or maybe two hot laps before they started to sulk, the pedal became long and dead and the Turn One and Two flip-flop started to become a distinct worry. Yes, they came back after a breather in the pits, but that’s not much good when a left-hander is rushing up at you and the middle pedal has started to feel like you’re standing on a semi-frozen cat (just trust me, okay).

The ROH Wheels/V-Sport 86 ditches the stock hardware and adds a set of 355mm and 330mm rotors. Calipers are four-pots at each corner. Straight away stopping distances tumble, with the same 100 to 0km/h haul-up taking place in just 35.5m. But more than that, the V-Sport car has a much nicer feel through the pedal and never gave me the impression that things were getting hot in the brake-pad region.

You could barrel into turns all day long in this thing and I reckon the pedal would still feel the same.

So much for slowing – how about going? Okay, so turbocharging an 86 or BRZ isn’t news any more, but when you can screw 300kW out of the thing at the treads, I’m paying attention. Work it out, and that’s more or less a 500 horsepower four-banger you’ve got there, son, so be careful. The changes start with a stroker crank that ups capacity to 2.1 litres, but the rest of the deal is pretty stock with the factory heads and cams. Aside from the tune, the only real concession to 11:1 compression and 17 pounds of puff is a diet of E85 (which smells wonderful, let me tell you). There’s a carefully constructed exhaust system as well and the turbo installation incorporates an intercooler (as you would expect).

On the dragstrip it’s remarkably lag-free, although it does get more serious the harder you rev it. Unlike some installations, though, it doesn’t feel like the boost tails off at higher revs, and the OBD download confirms that to be the case. As such, it fairly tears up the strip and, once you’ve banged the limiter in first and second, you feed it third and wait as it hits about 5500rpm, at which point it’ll start turning the tyres again. And where the stock 86 is pegged in fourth as you cross the line, the V-Sport car is way, way into fifth (like, more than 6000rpm) at the 400m mark. It makes a fantastic noise from the moment you dump the clutch in first and hear the tyres grizzling, right through to the boost whistling up quick-smart and then the fruity exhaust note backing it up.

On the watch, the stock car ran a 15.4sec at 149.1km/h, while the V-Sport fella went 13.2sec at 185.9km/h and was still hauling like a good ’un.

Nought to 100km/h came up in 7.6sec in the standard 86, while the modded version trumped that with a 5.6sec and would have been even faster with a better launch (I was asked nicely to be kind to it, since 500 neddies will do evil things to even a car like this one running modified Porsche driveshafts). And flexibility (which counts as you blast out of corners)? Well, the stocker ran from 80 to 120km/h in 4.8 seconds; the V-Sport car made the same trip in just 2.3.

We’ve had standard 86s go a bit faster than this, but I reckon this was still a pretty tight engine (Toyota motors have traditionally needed 10,000km on board before they free up properly). It was tricky to launch, too, as all standard 86s are, with the temptation to dial in too many revs on the line and have the thing axletramp into the 16s.

Despite having two-and-a-half times the power, the V-Sport car wasn’t too fussy about how to get away from the Christmas tree. And what’s interesting, too, is that it never felt like it was going to get hot under the collar or start to lose power as intake-charge temps rose. In fact, it was remarkably consistent on most runs, with your chosen degree of launch savagery – typically – making all the difference.

As well as the tougher driveshafts on the V-Sport 86, there’s also a beefier clutch and a TRD short-shifter.

Frankly, I wouldn’t bother with the shifter. Plenty of times I blew a good 400m run by having the shifter baulk, stranding me in no-man’s with the boost being hissed up the wall. The clutch is heavier, too, and is instantly more difficult to modulate for friction point.

So here we are at Winton, howling down the startline straight and heading for the left-right complex that makes up turns one and two. In the stocker, the

steering exhibits its usual accuracy and feel (lots) and then the whole thing starts to get a bit flighty as you get closer to the apex and realise you’ve already used up all the grip. The solution is to be a bit smarter with a slower-in approach, but that’s a sure-fire way to limit the fun you can have. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a sensational track car, but if you’re going to avoid belting the barriers, there are limits to be observed.

The V-Sport’s coil-overs are definitely stiffer, and you can feel that just by snicking first and rolling over a shadow in the pits. There’s a lot more meat in the steering feedback and the whole lot feels hunkered down and spring-loaded in a way the standard car just doesn’t. That impression is backed up by physics when you flick into the first corner. There’s no roll, no need to correct half-way through, just line up the apex (and adjust your line if necessary; the 86 will cop it sweet) and get back on the noise as soon as you can. Which is likely to be quicker than you thought possible. You can also, despite the huge power lurking, get back to full throttle fairly quickly. Those tyres are worth their weight in VHT.

While the urge doesn’t take as much personal recalibration as I expected, the brakes do. Time after time I’d enter a corner thinking I was hurtling when in fact I was dawdling by the time I got to the turn-in point, simply because the stoppers are so good.

So, eight seconds is eight seconds and, like I said, around Winton that’s a huge difference. And even though we have our similarities (my own dubious mop is the work of the Divine Prankster, while Luffy’s do is the equally questionable result of fancily named product), I am no Luffy. But while Wazza would doubtless go seconds faster than me in either car, I reckon the difference between his times in each would probably maintain that eight-second relativity.

Which means all I have to do is convince him to race me, with me driving the V-Sport version. M

TOYOTA 86 GTS

BODY 2-door, 2-seat coupe DRIVE rear-wheel ENGINE 1998cc fl at-four, DOHC 16V BORE/STROKE 86 x 86mm COMPRESSION 12.5:1 POWER 147kW @ 7000rpm TORQUE 205Nm @ 6400rpm POWER/WEIGHT 115kW/tonne TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual WEIGHT 1275kg SUSPENSION (F) Struts, coil springs, lower A-arms, anti-roll bar SUSPENSION(R) Multi-links, coil-over dampers, anti-roll bar L/W/H 4240/1775/1320mm WHEELBASE 2570mm TRACKS 1520/1540mm (f/r) STEERING Electrically assisted rack-and-pinion BRAKES (F) 294mm discs, 2-piston calipers BRAKES (R) 290mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers WHEELS 17 x 7.0-inch TYRE SIZES 215/45 R17 TYRE Michelin Primacy HP PRICE AS TESTED $35,990 RATING 11113

ROH WHEELS/V-SPORT 86

BODY 2-door, 2-seat coupe DRIVE rear-wheel ENGINE 2091cc fl at-four, DOHC, 16V, turbo BORE/STROKE N/A COMPRESSION 11.0:1 POWER 286kW (rear wheels – around 385kW at the crank, ish) TORQUE N/A POWER/WEIGHT N/A TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual WEIGHT 1290kg (est) SUSPENSION(F) coil-overs, struts, anti-roll bar SUSPENSION(R) A-arms, coil-overs, anti-roll bar L/W/H 4240/1775/1280 (est) WHEELBASE 2570mm TRACKS 1540/1560mm (f/r) (est) STEERING Electrically-assisted rack-and-pinion BRAKES (F) 355mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers BRAKES (R) 330mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers WHEELS 18 x 9.5-inch TYRE SIZES 265/35 R18 TYRE Yokohama Advan Neova AD08s PRICE AS TESTED $80,448 RATING 11112

Eight seconds is eight seconds and, around Winton, that's a huge diff erence