Cosworth Toyota GT86 Test Drive

The proliferation of tuners that offer upgrade kits for the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ is a clear indication that, like us. many owners crave more power from the little coupe. The sweetly balanced, rear-wheel-drive chassis is the car's centrepiece, but an increase over the standard 197bhp allows you to enjoy its capabilities more often.

Cosworth Toyota GT86 Test Drive

To that long list of tuners we can now add Cosworth. Few outfits have a more vibrant heritage in motorsport and performance motoring, which gives this kit an appeal all of its own. Alongside its high-profile motorsport programmes, which have included the building of Formula 1 engines until the end of the 2013 season. Cosworth works behind the scenes on many OEM projects, givingthis kit the assurance of a certain standard of quality.

The kit fitted here is a Stage 2 upgrade with a supercharger. It lifts power to 277bhp and, even more usefully, bumps the rather limp standard torque figure up by 751b ft to 2261b ft while also padding out the mid-range. The intake manifold and intercooler are upgraded to get the most out of the supercharger. A forthcoming exhaust manifold will liberate a further 10bhp.

With a relatively high specific power output, this FA20 engine should be a bit of a screamer, but in its standard form it really is a thrashy and unsatisfying thing. Mated to Cosworth's supercharger kit it remains quite ordinary in its basic character, but it now feels a great deal stronger from low revs and much more urgent at the top end. The power curve is very linear, so there's pleasure and reward to be had from chasing the red line, but that broader torque curve means you can shift up early and still make good progress. There's no great sense that the engine now breathes by forced induction because the supercharger works in a subtle way. Whereas some blowers announce themselves with a manic whine, this kit is altogether more discreet.

Adding this kind of power does present the issue of having to contain it. To this end. Cosworth has developed a front and rear brake upgrade package with 330mm discs and six-pot calipers at the sharp end. Its engineers claim that they weren't able to make the brakes fade on circuit; on the road they certainly feel strong and progressive. This demonstration car also rides lower on aftermarket coilovers, but they're off-the-shelf parts rather than being Cosworth's own work.

As welcome as the performance increase is, the chassis does seem to struggle with the extra power. Runningthe standard limited-slip diff, this car easily breaks traction, particularly in wet or greasy conditions. That's to be expected, but it's also very short on lateral grip. It's unclear if that's down to this particular car's setup, its Continental rubber, or if it's a second-hand consequence of the engine upgrades, but the result is that it is tricky to enjoy at high speeds. At lower speeds it's a great deal of fun in a juvenile, slippery sort of way.

The supercharger kit itself is very easy to recommend, but we'd want to work on the chassis tuning to make the most of it. Cosworth is working through warranty and type-approval matters at the moment -the process is more drawn out than the actual engineering programme, apparently - but once the red tape is dealt with, this will be among the very best FA20 upgrade kits on the market.

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