Video: Is there value in buying an automatic GR86 or BRZ?

The Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are among the most popular affordable sports coupes currently on the market, but is there any reason why you should buy one with an automatic transmission?

We had the chance to compare a manual GR86 against an automatic BRZ at our official test track, the Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park.

Presented by CRC Industries.

I'm loving my second generation GR86 with auto and paddles.  I've already put 9,000 miles on it since May.  I'm as old as dirt.  Over half my cars have had 3 pedals, and all my race cars, but still i don't get the internet's anguish over autos.  

This car is developing into my favorite street car ever.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/26/23 10:08 a.m.

In reply to Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) :

Personally, as long as I can choose what gear the car is in, I'm happy.

If money were no option, I'd totally get a manual GR86 as a fun weekend canyon carver, but if it's something I'd have to drive every day in traffic, I'm going with the auto.

Driven5 UberDork
9/26/23 11:22 a.m.

My main question regarding the automatic is, do at least the sport/track/manual type modes lock the torque converter clutch whenever not stopped or shifting, so that the throttle modulates and responds as it would in a manual or DCT? Does it downshift and relock, rather than only unlocking the converter in the higher gear, on moderate acceleration? Does it engine brake off throttle? I like that more manufacturers are finally acting on the (not just performance and enthusiast) benefits of this 'modern' automatic transmission tuning strategy, but last I knew it was still pretty hit or miss even in sporty cars.

If so, since it appears both transmissions also get the Torsen, I could actually see considering one with an auto as our next 3rd car so that both of us could enjoy driving it.

I have noticed in drive if you get off the throttle it seems to keep rolling in neutral.  But, in sport it seems to be slowing due to engine braking.

Being used to driving sticks, if i see law enforcement i get off the throttle and slow due to engine braking.  Not so in full auto mode.  But drives like a stick in sport or track.


JimS Reader
9/26/23 3:13 p.m.

Some of us are old with achy joints. Some folks are disabled. Many reasons to buy an autotrans. I love the dct in my 911. 

z31maniac MegaDork
9/26/23 5:37 p.m.

Not watching the video, but does the 2nd gen autos still have a different rear end ratio from the manuals like the first gen? It helps them get better mileage, but is also heavier and slower. 

My first gen and now 2nd gen BRZ's, both manuals. When I had my 135i, I went with the DCT for the shift speed, which in hindsight was a mistake. In less than 18 months, it had to be reprogrammed 3 times to try and get rid of the crummy behavior around town. 


Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/26/23 6:13 p.m.

In reply to Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) :

There are all sorts of neat things they are doing.  Holding gears for corners, or even downshifting during long braking events with no speed change, are almost universal.

Nice to have HAL be useful instead of obstinate.

Old guy (luddite) trying to learn new tricks...  My first vehicle with bluetooth.   Now i can make phone calls without ever taking my hands off the shifter... er... i mean paddles.   wink

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/26/23 8:21 p.m.

Modern automatics are amazing.  That said if I get a twin, it will still be manual. 

samcastor New Reader
3/28/24 5:21 p.m.

In reply to Driven5 : Yes, sport mode will lock the torque converter above 2k RPM I believe and also increase the line pressure in the transmission for quicker shifts apart from changing when the shift happens. It also adds throttle blips on and cut-off on downE36 M3/upshift. Yes it engine brakes as the car only auto-downshifts around 1.5 - 2k RPMs and never auto upshifts in the "manual" mode. Even in regular sport mode with the drive mode selected on the shifter, you can feel the engine brake as the car tries to keep the RPMs higher than the regular drive mode and will get more aggressive as you start driving aggressively. For example, if you floor it, the car will rev up to 7k RPM and then shift to 2nd but if you only press the accelerator quarter way in or halfway, it will upshift around 5-6k. There is also specific behavior programmed for corners as someone else here mentioned.

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