Toyota GT86 FA20 Tuning

"Tuning the Toyota GT86 and best GT86 performance mods."

A joint effort between Toyota and Subaru a new iconic car is born. With a low center of gravity and rear wheel drive a real drivers car was born. It also bore a Scion badge as was dubbed the FR-S.

The stunning Subaru Boxer engines gives plenty of power in standard form but can sit very low in the car creating an ideal weight distribution. The car is sure to be a hit with the drifting community and track day enthusiasts alike.

The FA20 is a great engine choice and offers fantastic gains when tuned properly which we'll discuss in this article as we look at the best engine mods and upgrades for it.

The GT86 is a car that was born for fun, it was not a sporty badge on the boring model, it was a bespoke design and took the best from Toyota and Subaru.

We are sure the 86 is destined to be a future classic, thanks to it's looks, wide appeal and fun driving experience.

However most GT86 owners would like a little more power, the chassis seems to be crying out for a little more grunt and power so we shall look at how to create a fun GT86 modified project.

So what are the best upgrades and mods for this car? Can we really improve on the standard factory setup? (The answer is always yes, there is always a little more fun hiding in every car.)

Your aim when tuning the engine should be a flat and wide torque band. You don't want all the power to be at the top end unless you are creating a competition car.

In this article we shall give a little insight into the world to the best performance parts for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance part.

The GT86 is popular among our members for tuning projects If you do your planning carefully then you can create an awesome GT86 but don't be fooled there are lots of tuning kits and performance parts out there that will simply not suit it read our unbiased guides first.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Top end power should be your overall aim on the GT86 with a nice fat peak torque band.

With our guides your GT86 can be transformed into a credible track car and still to a totally reliable daily run around.

So what are the best engine modifications for the GT86?

GT86 Engine Tuning.

These are the modifications are usually installed by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you get going.

The FA20 was worthy of a bespoke tuning guide so here is a link to our latest FA20 tuning guide.

Getting the right tuning modifications for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your GT86

    1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
    2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
    3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction. Focus on the headers and cat and you'll see an improvement.
    4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power, there are a few decent BRZ kits around. For the cost this should net you the largest power gain.
    5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

GT86 Tuning Stages


Typical stage 1 mods often include:
Sports exhaust,Alloy wheels,Lighter flywheel,Remap,Panel air filter,Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm).

Typical stage 2 mods often include:
Fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,Ported and polished head,Fast road cam,Power clutch,.

Typical stage 3 mods often include:
Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger),Engine balancing,Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves),Competition cam,Sports gearbox.

GT86 Suspension Upgrades

Many GT86 owners uprate the handling of their cars with sports suspension mods as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

We would go to a maximum drop of 30mm and stiffen the suspension a little. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this and will certainly compromise the ride quality.

Fully adjustable suspension allows you to fine tune the handling of you GT86 radically enhancing your drive.

We suggest that you fit motorsport suspension and lower the car by 25mm - 37 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with motorsport suspension.

GT86 Brake Upgrades

Fitting larger brake discs and better high performance brake pads should make for radically enhanced stopping.

We should point out that motorsport pads can be noisier and will need to be hot before they start to work.

On a road car the brakes are occasionally used so will not be effective so specify pads which work well in daily use.

A nice wide torque band and sweet spot of peak power at one third of your RPM range is optimum.

Enjoy your GT86 to the full with our awesome performance tuning tips - do the right mods in the right order.

GT86 Fast Road Camshafts

A fast road camshaft will be one of the best NASP power mods you can do from a single upgrade to your engine.

It maximises the intake and exhaust durations and increases the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a reflashed ECU. We'd also caution you not to go with a competition cam as this affects the engines idling and general town driving characteristics. Don't forget to pay attention to the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

It's worth noting that most Japanese cars prefer a higher octane fuel, which is what they were developed on. They will run on lower octane fuel but you'll lose some of the potential performance.

Using very high octane petrol is another option if you find you are suffering from pinking or premature ignition on your Toyota project after fitting other performance kits.

To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned GT86s uprated injectors.

We have seen some pretty impressive power figures from supercharger kits on the D4S injection FA20 engines.

GT86 Remapping

Remapping done by a reputable tuner when matched to unequal length performance headers and decent exhaust should net around 10-15% more power.

TorqueCars recommend the ECU tune and mapping is performed last so it can take into account all your other modifications and upgrades, and will fully release the power from all of the mods and upgrade.

The map will help fine tune the cam timing and ignition timing and in turn this helps iron out the torque dip on the GT86 engine.

When you are using 8 injectors, you'll get crossover as it is much harder to regulate the flow from two units, and this causes peaks and dips, but when a tuner knows the BRZ well he can smooth out the power delivery.

GT86 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. Induction kits will only help to increase performance if your cars air intake is restricted!

GT86 Intake modifications

Adding an induction kit to most standard engines will see NO POWER GAIN AT ALL - the standard GT86 air filter flows adequately for stock power levels.

If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a performance panel filter should suffice for most applications. TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

GT86 Performance Exhaust Headers

Sports exhausts increase the flow of gases through the engine. But if your exhaust is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the exhaust flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

FA20 head work including a gas flow (ported and polished) and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. In nearly all cases of GT86 tuning your clutch will start to slip and this needs an upgrade - read our guide on clutches for more information. Remaps offer impressive power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NA (naturally aspirated) engines the benefits are doubtful. However a tuned/remapped ECU on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

The most significant power gains for naturally aspirated engines usually involves the addition of forced induction. When you want significant performance gains, it makes sense to fit a supercharger kit and there are a few decent GT86 supercharger tuning kits around.

These will bolt on and with fuel and timing modifications you can totally transform the power output of your FA20 engine. Expect to pay quite a lot for the kit, but bear in mind the power return will more than make up for this initial expense.

It is usually easier to bolt on a supercharger than it is to get a turbo working. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed. We have seen a few supercharger kits and turbo conversions on the GT86 but as this is new we don't know where the engines power limits are.

Superchargers, give a boost which is directly proportional to engine speed so is easier to map. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

Alloy wheel upgrades for the GT86.

The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling via the extra air flow they allow. The downside to large alloy wheels on your GT86 is that you're altering your effective final drive ratio so this will have a detrimental effect on acceleration and performance.

Because of this we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 17 or 18 inches, although we know some of our members have with bigger wheels with no problems and 19's look great but they do tend to tramline.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss GT86 options in more detail with our GT86 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Toyota tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below. We love hearing about our website visitors projects, especially the mods done and which work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these articles which are kept updated and constantly revised.

If you've enjoyed this page we would be very grateful if you could share a link to it on your favourite forums or on your social media profiles, it helps us keep going.

Please Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...

PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.

Feedback - What do You Think?

Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article, I really want to improve this article with your help and suggestions.

Please watch this video and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

2 Responses to “GT86 tuning”

  1. Ray Marrs says:

    I have a GT86 Pro and would like to obtain/find out how to obtain a better torque curve as I feel that this is the achilles heel of the engine, although a little more power would be nice to. I found this article interesting but I think ultimately I am aiming for the turbo route.

  2. Ian Phillips says:

    Since this engine is the same as the WRX just w/o the turbo, there is a lot of after-market support. you might need to get a new intake manifold but you can turbo this engine very easily

Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).

BMW 335i - 2021 COTY

We gave the BMW 335i our coveted car of the year award, read more about this awesome car and see why 335i Tuning Guide

Tips for N54 Tuning

Tips for N55 Tuning
Tips for B58 Tuning

Popular articles

Tuning Diesels
ECU Remaps
double clutching
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Chip Tuning
Modified car insurance
Track day insurance
Remap Diesels
MPG calculator
Cleaning your DPF
Tuning Stages

Panel Air Filters

Panel air filters


Low ratio sport gearbox setup and selection.

Split Bonnets

Creating a custom self opening split bonnet or split hood.

Spray Painting

How to spray paint a car

Tuning Mpg

Tuning for improved MPG

Mpg Power

The battle between economy and power rages on.

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG