The AE86 was in fact introduced as a small and lightweight generation of the Toyota Corolla Levin and Toyota Sprinter Trueno by Toyota Motor Corporation. It was regarded as the fifth generation model of the Toyota Corolla lineup. The company has smartly assigned the chassis code “AE86″ to describe the depth of entire range briefly. Let us see what actually chassis code describes, the “A” refers to the engine that came in the car (4A series), “E” refers to the Corolla, “8″ refers to the fifth generation (E80 series) and “6″ refers the variation within this generation. The most prominent difference between the Levin and Trueno lies in their headlights, i.e. the Levin came with fixed-headlights while the Trueno offered with retractable headlights.
Both the variants were covered under the name Corolla. Apart from the front wheel drive models CE80, EE80 and AE82, the AE86 along with other low spec models including AE85 (1452cc or 1.452 L) and SR5 (1587cc) were rear wheel drive models and ranked as the last in the lineup in its type to be a rear wheel drive where majority of the passenger cars were started coming as front wheel drive at that time. The company introduced a limited edition model as “Black Limited” that set the basis for the new chassis with front wheel drive as AE92 Corolla/Sprinter. In the Japanese market, the AE86 was often referred to as Hachi-Roku (eight-six in Japanese).
The AE86 in Japan and Europe offered with a fuel-injected 4-cylinder twin-cam 1587 cc 4A-GE engine that it shared with the first generation Toyota MR2 (AW11). The engine was capable of generating 130PS (96 kW) and torque of 110 lb-ft (150 Nm). The engine was offered with T-VIS (Toyota Variable Intake System). The Limited Slip Differential was offered as an option in AE86. Initially, the engine was mated to 5-speed manual gearbox, but later automatic transmission became optional.
In order to make the engine in consent with the California emissions regulations, a modified 4A-GEC engine was offered in the North American versions capable of generating 112 bhp (84 kW) and torque of 96 lb-ft (136 Nm).
On the front, the car used a Macpherson strut style independent suspension while a four-link live axle with coil springs at the rear. Stabilizers bars were used at both the ends. All the AE86 models came equipped with ventilated disc brakes.
A 6.7-inch rear differential was offered in 4A-GE models while the 4A-U and 4A-C versions came with a smaller and weaker 6.38-inch rear differential.
Both the variants (Levin and Trueno) were available either as a 2-door coupe or 3-door liftback body styles. The majority of the features were similar in both variants except for the headlights which are fixed on Levin, while the Trueno received the retractable headlights. In 1986, both variants received some slight modifications in bodywork as a result of which both Levin and Trueno received different tail lights. Among the two, the coupe version was reasonably stiff and lightweight.