What I liked about the 1st gen 86 over the first gen BRZ was the "angry look". Pincered bumper and elongated lights, giving it a frown at the front. I like a sports car to give "intent" when you look at it. I hope the GR86 will bring back some of that "intent" to the bumper design. I love the front of the latest Corolla for that very reason. Pincer look and plenty of "intent". So, some Toyota models, including the C-HR if you look closely, still have that pincer look at the front. I am therefore hopeful that the GR86 may not look as "rounded" at the front as the Subaru twin. I don't mind the back end at all.
The below combo of narrowing lights and pincer bumper looks angry to me
I also seem to remember that when the 1st gen was launched, there was not much in the way of comparisons with other cars in the looks department? This time there is a lot of comparison with Vauxhall, Hyundai, Porsche, Aston etc around the forums. I must admit when I first saw the front I thought of the Hyundai Coupe. Although the BRZ is to me better looking than that, the lights on the new model don't do it for me like the older models do.
As for the interior and mechanical upgrades, they sound good, especially the tyre choice on 18s. However, for me, the reason I bought a GT86 was that I wanted a "looker", and the 1st gen still satisfies that want, even after 7 years.