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Toyota GR86 v BBR Mazda MX-5 – car pictures of the week

In evo’s Track Car of the Year issue, we put Toyota’s GR86 up against a BBR-tuned Mazda MX-5 – these are our favourite shots

evo's Track Car of the Year issue is out now, and it features some of the most extreme, specialised track day machinery you can get your hands on without needing an FIA Super Licence. With that said, you don't need a Radical or a Revolution race car to enjoy yourself on a circuit, as proved by the brilliant Toyota GR86 and BBR's tuned Mazda MX-5

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These front-engined, rear drive sports cars are ideal for honing your car control skills and entertaining you on a circuit, without costing the earth – you can find out which comes out on top by picking up a copy of evo 322 in-store or via our online shop

We know the GR86 well. It completely won us over at eCoty 2022, coming second only to the Maserati MC20 and beating Ferrari’s 296 GTB, but the track – Cadwell Park in this case – poses a completely different challenge. Will its 231bhp boxer engine be enough to thrill, and will it still feel natural and friendly to drive at the very limit of grip?

The ND-generation MX-5 is a refreshing, back-to-basics roadster in standard trim, but the package really comes alive with BBR’s upgrade kit. A Rotrex supercharger and free-flow manifold lift power to 250bhp, and weighing just 1084kg (over 200kg less than the Toyota), it’s easily the quickest of the two in a straight line. 

‘The tweaks give the MX-5 more attitude than the GR’, notes Richard Meaden. ‘It sounds sharper and looks more purposeful but still feels very much a road car with upgrades rather than a full- blown track car. You sit low and sense its compactness; like the GR it makes Cadwell feel usefully wider than, say, a BMW M2, and the low weight means you have the freedom to drive without being punished by momentum, with mistakes or over-exuberance quickly gathered up.’

To read the full test, grab a copy of our Track Car of the Year issue in-store or from the evo shop.

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