The 2022 Toyota GR 86 is brilliant in its Base trim, just add better tires and it’d become amazing.

Car: 2022 Toyota GR 86
Location: Monticello, New York
Photog: Peter Nelson (Instagram + Twitter: @16vPete)
Camera: Canon 6D + EF 35-80 Zoom

In the spirit of truly being behind the wheel of a brand-new, inexpensive sports car in 2022 (well, possibly as early as very late 2021), I think the move might be to opt for the Base trim if someone’s got the GR 86 at the top of their list.

Really, the visual upgrades you get with the Premium trim is the rear duckbill spoiler and better-looking wheels from the GR Yaris. By the way, I’m not sure if GR Yaris wheels in the USA are a cruel joke or a wise, cross-platform exercise in thriftiness.

Inside, you get a few pieces of advanced driver assistance tech and some slightly nicer interior materials with the Premium. But really, the base materials are fine, and the seats are amply comfortable. You do get heated seats in the Premium; a worthwhile consideration for my cold-weather friends out there.

Everywhere else, it’s the same car. The same Torsen limited-slip differential, same amount of power, same brakes with a sportier brake pad compound over the old 86, and the same suspension tuning.

Though, the tires are different. Personally, while driving the GR 86 last week, I much preferred my experience on track with the Premium trim’s 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4s. The squidgy-as-hell 17-inch Primacys on the Base were flat-out annoying. Sure, they could slide around easier, but they were way too vague and confidence-killing.

In that case, just buy a Base and upgrade to better, more track-centric 200-treadwear rubber. They’ll be cheaper in the Base’s 17-inch wheel size, too. Or, go one further and mount those tires up to a sick set of aftermarket wheels, like some absolutely-baller Rays. Especially the various forms of the venerable TE37.