2020 Toyota 86 TRD: Poetry in Motion Gertrude Stein said “a rose is a rose is a rose.” She played this semantic game in order get us past the plant’s cultural baggage to the flower or perhaps the noun itself. Toyota’s 86 sports coupe, in contrast, is a sports is a sports car, even though it has worn other nameplates. In sum, it’s automotive botanical bliss. Yes, there are thorns but the way it hustles is beautiful. Toyota’s 86 isn’t new and strictly speaking it isn’t a Toyota. As with the new BMW-derived Supra, Toyota—a mean Subaru—put Toyota badging on a vehicle with genes from a different company: Fuji Heavy Industries. And that’s a good thing, as the rear-drive Subie FRZ-come Toyota 86 (nee Scion FR-S) is blessed with ultra-quick steering, sharp as an X-Acto knife reflexes, sound directional stability, slippery aero dynamics and good driver ergonomics. Its low center of gravity really pays off. And the chin spoiler and exhaust outlets remind you of a famous Seinfeld episode involving shrinkage—everything including the differential is tucked so you don’t scrape its underbelly. In full TRD dress, you get 18-inch Michelin Pilot PS4 donuts, a rev-loving 205-hp boxer engine, a roaring exhaust note, stiff suspension damping and big Brembo brakes. It lists for $34,783. It’s EPA rated: 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined. I fetched 28; premium required. You must duck to enter, but there are rubber pads where you’d place your hands when moving in. The snug seat fits as if they were sutured to your body. The clutch hooks up as if you’re winding a big clock spring. The six-speed transmission’s shifter engages, as if were an Oliver tractor’s power hookup. In this case, the agricultural connection is a good thing—a mechanical feel missing in this microprocessor-controlled world. Gear ratios are tight. This keeps the mill perking. Acceleration is brisker your favorite craft tea. Alas, sound deadening is minimal and the vehicle’s din means wearing earplugs for long drives. And the electric power steering seems greasy at times. The rear suggestion of a seat is a loading platform, which coupled with a small trunk and pass through ingests four 16-inch wheels and tires. It’s a lot like loading the aft compartment in a VW Bug or Ghia, although the impatient right seat slides back while you’re wrestling. There’s a sense of Italian sexiness from the frameless door glass to its low-slung form. And owning one is an exclusive club: only 3,398 were sold here last year. That’s a shame. It’s the type of conveyance that thrills without requiring its owner to pay lots of bills. In other words, it’s a rose.