2020 Toyota 86: Simple ingredients, combined perfectly

Photos courtesy of Toyota

BOSTON — The key to the perfect homemade steak dinner is to start with the best ingredients. Keep it simple. Head to Costco and go straight for the USDA Prime beef (they’re usually on the right side of the meat case) and find yourself a nice ribeye. Don’t bother with the USDA Choice cuts — that’s good enough for a backyard barbecue, but not for what we have planned.

Then you’ll want to get some asparagus, baby portobello mushrooms, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, and olive oil. Like I said, we’re keeping things simple… mostly. You’ll also want to pick up a sous vide machine from Anova or whoever. This is key. Sous vide is French for “under vacuum” and it involves poaching food at fixed, low temperatures to cook things precisely and it is the best way to make a steak.

Add a bit of olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to the bag and then cook your Costco choice steaks at 130 degrees F for a few hours until they are perfect, pink, and medium rare. Then you’ll finish them on max heat in a cast iron skillet with a few healthy pats of butter added. Sear for 30 seconds per side and then let rest for five minutes before serving.

Now for the veggies. Take your asparagus and chop the hard bottoms off, then spread out on a baking sheet. Plop the mushrooms nearby, and then use a garlic press to smush some garlic and spread it liberally all over the asparagus. Drizzle olive oil all over everything, and then grate the Parmigiano on top. Cook for 12 minutes at 400 degrees and time it so you’re pulling the asparagus out right when you start to plate your steak.

Serve and enjoy.

Toyota has done something similar with the Toyota 86: Take simple ingredients, prepare and execute perfectly, then serve and enjoy.

The 86 is a joint effort between Toyota and Subaru, the latter of which markets the car as the Subaru BRZ. It features a 205-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine and my test car — the gorgeous Hakone edition — featured a lovely six-speed manual transmission.

I’m not on the maniacal car journalist “woe to the manuals” bandwagon where auto writers bemoan the lack of new manual transmission cars because car buyers have consistently shown that they aren’t particularly interested in them. Manual transmissions account for less than two percent of new car sales in the US and some performance car brands (like Ferrari, for example) haven’t sold manual transmission cars for years.

But this Hakone Edition 86 has a manual, and it’s lovely. Even more lovely is the color. It’s a deep, dark shade of British racing green combined with a tan-and-black leather interior. It punches well above its sticker price of $30,825 considering all you get for your money.

However. I’m 37, and I am officially Too Old for the Toyota 86. This is a car for people whose age starts with the number two, or people who are desperate to return to that era. It’s a car for people who think being uncomfortable is a feature.

The 86 has an extremely firm suspension, and twitch steering, and a lovely manual transmission. It’s an well-sorted entry-level sports car with nice things like a limited-slip differential and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support and bronze 17-inch wheels and a black spoiler. The trunk is roomy and the backseats nonexistent.

It reminds me a bit of the Alfa Romeo 4C: stripped down and focused on performance above all else. I owned a 4C for a few years and can tell you that it was a budget exotic, complete with carbon fiber chassis and expensive (but not exotic-expensive) maintenance costs and reliability to match.

The 86 is to the 4C as the 4C is to a Ferrari 488 — it’s the car you buy when you can’t afford what you really want. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun, and draws attention wherever it goes. For the week that I had it, I constantly had folks on the street giving thumbs up, and fast food workers in the drive-through telling me they liked the car.

But this is a driver’s car, and it’s for buyers who are passionate about driving who can’t afford an Alfa 4C or a Ferrari 488. They love it because it’s simple and brilliant. Just like that sous vide Costco steak.

About Jordan Golson 61 Articles
Jordan Golson is North State Journal's automotive reporter. He covers cars - both foreign and domestic - from around the globe.