“IF you know, you know.” That seems to be the social media phrase of the moment.

Never used it myself but it came to my mind this week. For the first time this year – and bearing in mind we are 11 months in – I’ve just driven a car I’d happily spend my money on.

The Toyota GR 86 is everything we love about the old car – low, manual and rear-drive – just lighter, faster, louder, sharper and better looking

For the first time this year, I’ve just driven a car I’d happily spend my money on

Ten seconds after climbing out of the Toyota GR 86, the bloke from Autocar – the car nerd’s bible – wandered over and said exactly what I’d been thinking.

I thought there was an echo in the pit lane because then the bloke from some mag called Top Gear, you may have heard of it, said he fancied one too. He’d already been searching for old GT86s on his phone. (By the way: For one that looks nice, 50,000-60,000 miles, you’re looking at 12/13 grand.)

For reasons I’ll never understand, the old GT86 was totally underappreciated. Journalists loved it. Purists loved it. But it never sold in big numbers. If someone at Audi was looking at the figures, they’d have scrapped it long ago.

But thankfully Toyota’s big chief Akio Toyoda adores this little car and he keeps it for the kudos. Corolla and RAV4 are the money-makers. Prius is the hybrid hero. This 2+2 sports car with an affordable price tag is for people to have a bit of fun. Or what the Japanese call “Waku Doki”.

Waku Racers? So not only has GT86 been rebadged GR 86 after Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s performance division, it has been heavily re-engineered too.

Everything we love about the old car – low, manual and rear-drive – just lighter, faster, louder, sharper and better looking. Let’s start with that high-revving boxer engine supplied by Subaru.

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...Armfuls of entertainment'

Same cylinder block as before but bored out to 2.4-litres. Power is up 34 horses to 234hp. Peak torque is delivered much earlier at 3,700rpm. The 0-62mph sprint time is 1.2secs quicker at 6.3secs and top speed is higher at 140mph.

Just as pleasing is the smiles per hour. The armfuls of entertainment on a twisty road. Engineers have increased torsional rigidity by 50 per cent, re-worked the suspension and steering, and lowered the centre of gravity a smidge.

The result is a well-balanced, laugh-out-loud sports car that’s noticeably quicker in the mid-range. The steering is sharper and has more feedback. It’s also easy to slide and control.

Switch to Track mode – when you’re on a track day, obviously – and the electronic health and safety aids are slackened right off to let you hoon around like Ken Block. That’s exactly what myself, Mr Autocar and Mr Top Gear were busy doing with some camouflaged prototypes in Spain.

As for the cabin, there’s not much to say really. Nice short-stroke gearstick. Comfy, well-supported seats. Just put your least favourite child in the back. The touchscreen talks to your phone. Sorted. Toyota will confirm prices when the GR 86 is officially unveiled next month.

I can tell you now it will start around £29k and be in showrooms from May. I can also tell you this is a tidy car which deserves to find more success than its predecessor. Now you know everything.

The result is a well-balanced, laugh-out-loud sports car that’s noticeably quicker in the mid-range

The steering is sharper and has more feedback and is also easy to slide and control

        Key facts: TOYOTA GR 86

Price: £29,000 Engine: 2.4-litre 4cyl petrol Power: 234hp, 250Nm 0-62mph: 6.3 secs Top speed: 140mph Out: May

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