Six hundred and forty-two years from now, the artificial planet orbiting Betelguese will finally receive the electromagnetic emissions of today. On it, the four-dimensional hyperintelligence known only as “Ship” will parse trilions of communications before deciding what the primary concerns of the puny “humans”, and particularly of the males among the species, might be. The list will be, in order:
1. How to insert tab A into slot B without being forced to put ring C on finger D (or cash E into purse F);
2. The quarter-mile time of the “Toyobaru”.
It seems like just yesterday that our irascible E-I-C pro tem attempted to become one of the “First 86” to own Subaru’s sporty coupe. In the two years since then, the relative pokiness of the BRZ/FR-S/whatever has become the stuff of legend, to the point where even the humor writers in this business are talking about it. “Scion FR-S… what’s the deal with it being so slow? Am I right? Wow, just wow! Here’s why that’s a problem!”
The defenders of the 86 have been forced to scale the walls of this confrontation and defend the car’s gutlessness. “You want an engine with no discernible powerband! It’s how you separate true drivers from people who merely want to scale Pikes Peak without a tow rope attached to the front bumper!” But everybody knows the car would be manifestly better with just a little more starch. It doesn’t need an LS1, although people are putting LS1s into them. It doesn’t need a monster-snail turbo, although that’s being done as well. It just needs an engine that matches the chassis. The 2.2L from the later Honda S2000 would have been a match made in heaven for it, but there are other options.
Today’s question isn’t about how the Subaru’s problems could be rectified, but rather how much it would take to do it. How much power does the car need to gain everyone’s respect and open the checkbooks? Does it need the same amount of power, just delivered more convincingly? Does it need more torque? A wider rev range? Six cylinders?
In my crate far below the VerticalScope headquarters, I’ve pondered the issue and decided that what the FR86 really needs is a Toyota engine. More specifically, the supercharged variant of the 2ZZ-GE found in the Lotus Exige 240R. It revs, it makes power, it thrills. I don’t care if they have to put a stupid whale nose on the thing to make it work. They did that with the Lexus IS-F and the results were worth it. I think that a price bump of $3000 would both cover the expense and represent fair value for money. But your opinion may differ…