Toyota’s “unashamedly focused sports car”, the 86, has been judged the Car of the Year in Australia at the annual Drive awards. The 86 was also named Best Performance Car under $60,000 and it came out tops in the People’s Choice vote.

In a first for a petrol-electric hybrid car, Toyota’s Australian-built Camry Hybrid was announced the Best Family Car. Camry Hybrid and the 86 were among just four “stand-out” cars considered in the final judging for the main award, which in the end went to the charismatic Japanese sports car.

Drive praised the 86 for being able to put a smile on anyone’s face who drives the diminutive sports car. They sighted its nimble rear-drive chassis and attainable power as the primary reasons for catapulting the 86 into sports car stardom.

“Judges loved the fact that it hit the brief of being a really fun-to-drive car – and it’s also impressively affordable.

“It really is a fantastic little sports car – one that can be fun on the right road, but also make the drive home that little bit more enticing,” Drive editor and chief judge Toby Hagon said.

Development of the compact four-seat sports car stemmed from the vision of Toyota’s global president Akio Toyoda to create a more emotional connection between car and driver.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing, Matthew Callachor, said the award for the 86 was a great tribute to the passionate people who engineered and produced it.

“The 86 was designed for driving enthusiasts to deliver maximum driving pleasure, lively yet accessible performance and highly engaging dynamic abilities – and all at an accessible price,” Callachor said.

The 86 has been a revelation on the local scene since its launch in July. Powered by a 2.0-litre Boxer engine with D-4S technology, it develops 147 kW of power and 205 Nm of torque. The 86 is one of the finalists in the 2013 Wesbank South African Car of the Year competition organised by the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists.

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