Toyota GT86 / Scion FR-S v Nissan 370Z v Used Porsche Cayman S - CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

Uploaded by drive on 15.08.2012


Yes, yes, yes!

I think we're going to be friends, me and the GT 86.
And so that was Spain about six months ago on a flat track
in what was a development car, and now I'm in Wales.
I'm on British, good, old-fashioned A and B roads.
And I want to see whether the GT 86--
if she lives up to the hype on the public highway.
Now I think, to conduct this test accurately, there are
three things I need to do.
First of all, I need to drive the car in isolation on the
road to see how it rides, see what it feels like, see
whether that sort of effervescent character comes
through when you just live with the car on the road.
Second of all, I need to address the rival situation.
There are two parts to that.
The first is that people keep saying to me, look, it's not
the only rear-wheel drive Japanese car you can buy for
under 30,000 pounds.
There's a thing called the Nissan 370Z.
So we brought one along, and we'll try
one against the 370Z.
But there's another argument, isn't there?
All you forum jockeys always say, think how much Cayman you
could buy for just around 30,000.
So in the interest of fair play and to keep those voices
quiet, we brought a Cayman along, too.
This, I think, could be a very good day, indeed.

Now in the interest of good web TV, I'd like to start
slowly and build to a crescendo about how I love
this car, but I haven't got time for all that bobbins.
Fact is, I love this car.
It's brilliant.
I'll start from the top.
In isolation, the numbers are not impressive.
200 horsepower, 151 foot-pounds of torque.
OK, it's light.
1,250 kilograms makes that Nissan look
like a right lard-ass.
And it's not very fast.
I mean, 7.7 seconds to 62 miles an hour.
Nothing to write home about.
But the collection of parts, the way it makes you feel on
the road, the way it makes you want to enjoy the car, there's
no set of numbers that can describe that.
This is one of the most exciting cars I've driven all
year on the road.
I absolutely love it.
I've been booting around Wales for the last day, and I've
just loved every minute of it.
It's that balance of not too much grit, just enough
But it makes you work for it.
And where it's the complete opposite to the Nissan is that
this is a 10 Tenths car.
It's still enjoyable, all the way up through that scale.
But when you go for those last couple of
nuggets, it's just fantastic.
It comes alive.
The steering is so accurate.
This gear change is just fantastic.
And the motor, OK, it doesn't make the best noise, but it
completely sings.
So that's 7,500-rpm red-line.
Yeah, this is a great car.
One criticism of this car is that when we first drove it
earlier in the year, we showed lots of shots of it on the
locked shots with some smoke pouring off the tires.
And everyone said, you know what?
On the road, you just can't drive like that.
And do you know what?
Of course you can't drive like that.
What you can do is get into a situation where you can feel
the car move around, and I think that's the cleverest
part of this package.
Toyota has somehow engineered a car that just yaws around
and moves at the rear axle a bit.
Not so much that you actually need to correct the car too
much, but that suggestion, that message you get, is quite
short in the Cayman.
And in the Nissan, to do something about corrective
lock or sort yourself out, is actually much longer in this,
so you get to savor it.
It says, do you know what?
I'm just going to go sideways a bit here.
But actually, you don't really need to correct it a bit.
It's happening in the rear suspension travel.
Yes, if you want to go a bit harder, it will
properly move around.
But you just feel like you're steering the car from the back
axle, and you don't worry about the lack
of torque too much.
When you want to rev it out, you just rev it out.
There she goes.
It's not a brilliant noise, but it's an exciting engine,
and it just does the job.
It fits the chassis characteristics really well.
But I come back to that feeling of yaw.
Every time you go through a faster corner, it just moves
around a little bit.
There's a bit of slip at the back.
And that is what makes us feel excited.
And every time you come in to the bowl of a corner or you
hit the apex, you're tempted just to go, I know what.
I'm just going to bash the throttle a little bit harder,
just to feel it move a little bit like that.
And that, that's very difficult to engineer into a
car, so they've done a great job with this.
And you can't describe it through numbers.
So yes, a KO 200 might well take this apart in a straight
line, but I just don't care.
I think this is a great car, and I'll repeat.
I'll repeat what I said back in January.
I think that the world needs cheap rear-wheel drive cars.
I think we need to get back to a stage where we're enjoying
performance because of its nature, not
because of its quantity.
Yeah, if anything, I'm more excited about this
now than I was then.
Ah, there are some bad points.
There are a couple.
OK, first of all, first of all, we have to say
it's not that fast.
So people that want performance are going to be
disappointed, I think.
Second of all, this cabin.
There is some sort of textured plastic that's supposed to
look like carbon fiber that isn't that great.
I like the clock faces, and I think everything's good, and
the information is coming straight to me, but it's not a
special place to sit.
And the trim materials are average, even in comparison
with the Nissan, which has got some quite nice leather on its
dashboard, it has to be said.
The driving position is spot-on, whereas the Nissan's
a bit aloof.
You sit too high.
You immediately get in this and think, oh, there we go.
Seat's perfect.
Steering wheel's right at my chest.
Off we go.
I suppose the real downside is the list price.
We all thought it was gonna be 23,000, didn't we?
But it's 24,995 basic.
And this car, as tested, with, let's say, the infotainment
system, the fancy seats, and some metallic paint, it's
nearly 28,000.
And is that too much money?
On paper, it probably is, but for the fun I'm having today,
it probably isn't.

The 370Z is the classic definition of the 8/10 car.
Drive it up to 8/10, and it's really quite good fun.
And you think to yourself, why would you want any more?
And you also think, at 29,000, it makes the new GT 86 look a
bit expensive because it's got this great big
powerful V6 in it.
It looks very pretty.
And the interior, frankly, makes the
Toyotas look a bit cheap.
But if you grab it by the scruff of the neck, something
quite strange happens in this Nissan.
It sort of falls to pieces.
Now, some of you think I'm being a bit harsh here.
But the reality is, that when you start to really push this
Nissan, funny things happen.
For example, the gear change that feels quite sharp and
quite easy when you're going along quite slowly and not
trying, suddenly becomes a bit obstructive and rubberized.
It feels like it's all set in great big rubber mounts.
The steering is inaccurate.
It doesn't really tell you what's going on.
And the motor, it just gets wheezy above 5,000 rpm.
OK, it thrashes the Toyota's outputs.
It's got 328 horsepower, and it's got 267
foot-pounds of torque.
But this car weighs 1,525 kilograms.
It's a big old lump.
It just feels inaccurate and not that much fun.
It doesn't make much of good noise.
Do you know what I'm getting at?
You buy a coupe to be involved.
And even though this serves up greater quantities of
performance, I'm not sure they're very nice.
So what we have here is a great big plate of not very
good food, whereas the Toyota is a smaller plate of much
more expertly prepared flavors.
There's some other subtle things going on here as well.
I like the sort of pared-back feel to this car.
It's got cloth seats.
And I do quite like the dashboard.
However, I can't bring this steering wheel close
enough to my chest.
The seat feels a bit wrong related to the pedals.
The whole thing is not instinctive.
And that's the word that you can apply to both the Porsche
and the Toyota.
They're instinctive sports cars.
You get in them, and you immediately think,
yeah, this is right.
And I don't quite in this car.
And I haven't got a downer on this car, but I keep hearing
people say, look, this new Toyota thing, this Scion,
whatever you want to call it.
It's not that great a value.
It's only got a little force in the engine.
You can get a Z for the same money.
But I'm driving them back-to-back
today on the same roads.
And I'll tell you what.
I'm finding the little car much more
exciting than this thing.

Now, on the one hand, you could argue that bringing a
Cayman along to this test is a bit like having Michelle
Pfeiffer turn up to the local village beauty contest.
But the fact is, Caymans are now getting quite old.
They're used, and they're worth a lot less money than
they once were.
This car has done 77,000 miles.
It's pretty tired.
It's familiar to me.
I've driven it before.
And I reckon it's worth what?
16,000, 17,000?
So, actually, it's too cheap for this test.
But it's a Cayman, and the owner, very kindly to let me
drive it in a manner that I think is good for video.
So here we are.
The Cayman S, 295 horsepower.
This one is not standard.
It has Bilstein PSS9's on it, for you geeks out there.
It's got a Quaife locking diff in it and some
other bits and bobs.
And it's got a Remus exhaust, which makes this noise.

We like.
First things first.
In terms of powertrain, this car is on a completely
different level to the other two.
I love the effervescence.
I love the excitement that you get in the Toyota and the way
that it goads you into driving it.
And the fact is, this does the same thing, and it's just got
more of everything, everywhere.
What about the handling as a package?
Well, it's interesting, isn't it?
The Cayman is all about mechanical grip wheeling.
It just grips coming into a corner, because it's got very
little understeer, and it's so well-balanced.
It's got loads of traction coming out of corners.
What it doesn't do is sort of shimmy over the road and yaw
and just slip about a bit like the Toyota does.
So in that respect, it's actually not quite as exciting
as the little Toyota, which I find remarkable.
I have to say, though, if you were going to buy a used sport
car, I can't think of why you'd buy anything else unless
you needed four seats because this is just an exceptional
motor vehicle.
It does everything so well.
The steering's gorgeous.
The powertrain's gorgeous.
I'm struggling to think something bad about it.
OK, the difference here is quite simple.
If you buy this car now at 77,000 miles, it's probably
got slightly scored boards.
The gearbox is tired.
It's going to cost you some money.
The upside is what's it going to be worth in three or four
years' time?
It can't be worth less than 10,000, I think.
The downside is, of course, it's going to cost you some
money to keep it on the road.
And that's the balance, isn't it?
The Toyota, well, that has a five-year
Toyota warranty on it.
You can't really argue with that.
But then, this is a Porsche.
A Cayman, over a really good technical road, will always be
something to savor.
It's just right.
It's agile.
It's enjoyable.
It's everything that I want in a car.
I'll never tire of it.
And as they get older, they don't seem to get much worse,
these Caymans.
This is a really, really special car.
And my 20,000 might well come something near this.
It's supple over bumps.
It doesn't quite have the sort of nose bob that a 911 does.
It doesn't chatter away at you.
But that means that you've got more time to get
the car turned in.
You don't have to sort of second-guess the
balance of the car.
OK, it's not as much of a challenge as a
911, and I miss that.
But it's just a magnificent package.
It really is.
Listen to this noise.
For less than 20,000.
That Toyota's going to have to be very special to match this.
Very special.

NARRATOR: The truth is, the Z just doesn't use its on-paper
advantage the way you do.
As a sports car, it should get better the harder you push,
but the opposite is true.
It's a great car to look at, and it's fast.
But if you love driving, you'll
be better off elsewhere.
Certainly, in a used Cayman, which, as we all know, is one
of the great bargains of our time.
Its only real downfalls are the fact that it isn't new,
and therefore doesn't have the massive warranty promise of
tiny running costs.
And, of course, it only has two seats.
But the 86 is something different altogether.
There's an effervescence about the way it approaches life
that gives its driver something more than just a
great motor and exciting handing.
It's a car that, by force of character, improves every
journey and not by outright speed, but by fun.
And it's made by the people that give us the Prius.
Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves just how awesome the
motor industry is.
And the GT 86 is a car does just that.

Which one of these would you have?
This one.

That's the test, boys.
Neil has spoken.