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Toyota Brings It Back to the Old School with Two-Tone Panda-Inspired GR86 Trueno Edition
BY Sam Du //
June 21, 2023
@duspeed
Photography: Sam Du / Mike Maravilla
@duspeed / @openinanewtab
Additional Photography: Toyota USA
@toyotausa
  • The 2024 GR86 will be offered in a special Trueno Edition that draws inspiration from the High-Tech Two-Tone AE86 Sprinter Trueno made popular by Initial D.
  • Black graphical elements on the hood and side panels add contrast to the Halo white or Track bRed paint. Painted black accents include the mirror caps, door handles, and duckbill spoiler. 18-inch, 10-spoke black metallic wheels round out the styling changes.
  • Toyota didn’t skimp on branding “Trueno Edition” on the GR86 with badges on the front bumper and rear decklid, logos integrated into the side graphics, interior dash plate, and shift knob. 
  • The Performance Package (Sachs dampers and Brembo brakes) will come as standard.
  • Only 860 GR86 Trueno Edition will be making it to the U.S. market.

Nearly 40 years ago, Toyota gave birth to the AE86 generation of the Corolla. The two-door “Hachiroku” coupe was offered in two variants — a Levin and Sprinter Trueno. The main difference lay at the front end, where the Levin featured flat rectangular headlights while the Trueno rocked nostalgic pop-up lights. The AE86 Trueno would become most popular among JDM enthusiasts when the manga series Initial D took the world by storm. It was the hero Takumi Fujiwara’s white-and-black AE86 Trueno GT-APEX Liftback that made “panda-style” popular and is ultimately the inspiration behind the new GR86 Trueno Edition.

WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT THE TRUENO EDITION

Badging. Unlike the other GR special edition models launched this week, this car has no shortage of branding elements to make sure you know it’s a “Trueno Edition”. There are nicely crafted badges glued onto the front bumper and trunk, while a cool nameplate is tucked away on the driver-side of the dash when you open the door. As if that wasn’t enough, Toyota added the Trueno logo on the top of the shift knob and ghosted it on the door graphics.

Black Stickers. The matte black accents on the hood, side doors, and fenders aren’t painted, which might be a bummer to some of you; however, if you hate them, then you can easily peel ‘em off.

Black Paint. What you can’t peel off are the glossy black mirror caps, door handles, and duckbill spoiler. In my eyes though, these pieces can definitely stay.

Black Wheels. Toyota tells us the black metallic 18-inch wheels are new and exclusive to the Trueno Edition. 

Performance Package. While the Performance Package that comes with Sachs suspension and Brembo brakes (12.8” and 12.4” rotors with four-piston and dual-piston calipers) aren’t anything new, it’ll come standard on the Trueno Edition, which goes to show, this GR86 is one you’ll want to toss around in the canyons.

Premium Tidbits. Standard on the Trueno Edition’s interior will an Ultrasuede and red leather sport seat combination, a leather steering wheel, an 8-inch touchscreen, and an 8-speaker JBL speaker system.

Exclusivity. 860 GR86 Trueno Editions will be hitting U.S. dealers this winter, split between manual and automatic. While the white-and-black “panda” scheme looks the part, there will also be a red-and-black Trueno Edition we’ve yet to see as well.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS – SAM

If you couldn’t tell by my tone, I’m not the biggest fan of “panda-style”. Maybe because I was deprived of watching Initial D as a kid. Nonetheless, it’s probably why I’m not feelin’ the GR86 Trueno Edition too much. The two-tone treatment just isn’t my cup of tea, which isn’t to say it doesn’t look sharp, but I just felt underwhelmed when I saw black vinyl plastered across a perfectly clean white GR86. To me, the word “Trueno” resonates with some of my favorite JDM builds of all time with cars like the TEC-ARTS Corolla Black Limited, so you can imagine my troubled state of mind. Regardless though, out of the three special edition models introduced this week, I will bet this throwback-inspired GR will certainly be one of the hottest cars to fly off Toyota lots in 2024, even with its $3,000 estimated increase in price.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS – MIKE

As a former FRS/BRZ owner, my hopes for this car were high. Toyota had ample time to hear all of our whining about more power, so it was time to find out whether they’d actually listened. 2022 gave us the answer: they sort of did. While some still bemoaned the lack of forced induction, the new 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated engine is a treat that you can rev to the moon without breaking laws.

The 2024 Trueno Edition is perhaps the best example of why Toyota stuck to its guns. As a direct descendant of the AE86, the platform was meant to be an affordable, small, and agile coupe. The playbook scratched off industry benchmarks like “0-60” and “top speed” in favor of a balanced, playful demeanor that too few take the time to relish. The Trueno Edition promises to amp up the attitude right out of the box even further, thanks to the Performance Package we covered earlier. 

Admittedly, the vintage 86 pulls the two-tone aesthetic off much better — there just isn’t a defined belt line on the new car to make the panda look feel cohesive. Apples to apples, this car is as true to Fujiwara’s AE86 as a tribute band is to any original. But if you remove the impossible expectations, you’ll still be able to realize that this car is still one of the best driver’s cars you can buy — at any price. I’ll tell you that at the top of third gear through a corner, the last thing you’re thinking about is its on-paper horsepower stats.

I’m amenable to the door graphics and I think the limited edition badging inside the driver’s side door is a nice touch. But I don’t understand the black door handles and mirror caps. Thirty years ago, something like this would be found on basement-bargain models because manufacturers were trying to cut costs. Somehow, the tables have turned, but I’d be the first in line to get both of those paint-matched.

The entire Toyota GR lineup is so strong right now. I’d have a hard time deciding between all three if I’m honest, but the GR86 Trueno Edition makes a strong case to be considered.


 

 

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