By on June 28, 2015

2016 Mazda MX-5

According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America.

The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as well. I’m not so sure about that.

“If Toyota were to employ the MX-5’s chassis, it would be on the next-generation FT86,” Car & Driver was told by a source.

The source says nothing specifically about the BRZ, though the magazine infers the Miata platform will also be used on the next sporty Subaru. However, Subaru may be smart to forego a second generation BRZ altogether.

Currently, the Toyobaru triplets are produced by Subaru in Ōta, Japan. The company is currently capacity constrained. Subaru will stop producing Camrys for Toyota at their Indiana facility in 2016 in order to claw back some of its own capacity to build the Legacy and Outback, the most popular model at Subaru. This shift to the Mazda platform could be a way for Subaru to get out of the RWD platform business and focus more on core models or variations thereof.

Mazda is building the MX-5 at their own facility in Japan and will build the forthcoming Fiat 124 Spider upon its debut. Considering Mazda and Toyota have been getting cozier as of late with a new facility in Mexico building the new Mazda2 along with the Scion iA/Toyota Yaris Sedan, Toyota could also move RWD sports car production to Mazda’s facility in Japan alongside the new Miata.

This would free up capacity for Subaru at their Ōta plant to build other models currently in demand.

So, if Toyota does see the MX-5 Miata platform as a solution for the next generation GT86 and Scion FR-S, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

[Photo credit: AutoGuide/Adam Wood]


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45 Comments on “Don’t Expect Subaru To Follow Toyota To Mazda For BRZ RWD Platform...”

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    It’s hard to understand how Toyota, with all the profit they make, and they cannot develop their own sporty cars.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it’s more that they understand they’d struggle to get a return on investment for a small niche vehicle, however their CEO realised that the brand needs a shot of excitement as the reliability card is being erroded by almost everyone.

    • 0 avatar

      When GM ruled the world, and could buy and sell the little manufacturers, who were making novel things, they destroyed them.

      Toyota can buy and sell these little guys – but instead appears to be cultivating them for diversity while Toyota focuses on its true strength – the appliance car.

      If you could make a half-baked sports car, or you could make appliances that everyone buys, pile up your pennies, and buy the best sports car that some little guy can make more nimbly, know thyself first and do the latter.

    • 0 avatar

      Without shared costs, they’re a money loser.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota has been developing sport cars, mainly via Lexus.

      Off-topic, but I wish TTAC would get back to publishing more articles daily, and especially more high quality pieces and op/eds by the likes of Jack Baruth, Steve Lang, that one guy who wrote some suspension-specific articles, Murilee, Ronnie, Crabspirits, Christian “Mental” Ward, et al.

      • 0 avatar

        Considering we have brought back Steve Lang, I think TTAC is moving in the right direction. As far as more daily content, there are forthcoming changes that will hopefully address that as well.

        However, we have been doing what we can with what we have available at any given moment. Also, we haven’t made any changes that knocks back the number of submissions of any of the people you’ve mentioned. If anything, we’ve been giving more work to those open to it.

        • 0 avatar

          DeMuro’s been phoning stuff in, though (and I defended Doug & his past contributions at one time, so color me particularly disappointed), and during what has been a very intense time regarding all things auto industry over the last 6 months or so, not enough has been written.

          I realize that you are at the mercy of resources granted to you, though, so I would hope that you don’t perceive this as a personal criticism – it’s directed more at VerticalScope or whomever is now controlling TTAC’s purse strings.

          Ironically, it’s my opinion that the fortunes of the large automakers, who’ve been riding a now 7 year easy money spigot & low interest rate environment, are going to reverse sharply & painfully very soon, so there will be another intense period regarding all things automotive to write about, for entirely different reasons.

          • 0 avatar

            “I realize that you are at the mercy of resources granted to you, though, so I would hope that you don’t perceive this as a personal criticism – it’s directed more at VerticalScope or whomever is now controlling TTAC’s purse strings.”

            It’s hard not to take it personally. If TTAC is ‘failing’, that’s on me and nobody else. It can’t be blamed on VS, the availability of resources (money, time, people), or the people who are contributing.

            That said, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the future of TTAC.

          • 0 avatar

            as usual, i mostly agree w/ Deadweight. Jalopnik was good, oh, 5 yrs ago, so i found and jumped to TTAC. but it has been getting a bit thinner and softer recently.

            Please continue to work toward two steps forward, one back and not that opposite.

      • 0 avatar

        @Deadweight I second your idea and your list of examples. Might want to add in a bit of Bark M., and I enjoy a fair percentage of Sajeev’s stuff, as well. Sort of like TTAC’s answer to Car Talk trying to figure out real world problems on real world cars.

  • avatar

    Is anyone else noticing how Toyota is starting to do lazy rebadge jobs of other automakers cars to sell as their own, and doing slipshod restyles of their old cars and passing them off as new? Just like GM used to do..

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      dwford, excellent critique! The compact crossover segment is going to grow from 3 vehicles to 11 within the next two years and Toyota’s decision to not pursue their own unique blueprint will likely hurt them in the times to come.

      Case in point. The Honda HR-V is an absolute home run for Honda right now. They estimated their production to be only around 70,000 units. Now they’re looking at it possibly topping 100k units if they can meet demand for this year.

      They decided two years ago not farm it out or do the all usual cost cutting joint venture that Toyota has historically done with their compact segments. Toyota was looking at the numbers, Honda, in my opinion, was looking at the importance of brand identity and the changing demographics of the American consumer.

      The result? No other vehicle is quite like the HR-V (for now), and Honda has the beginnings of what may very well be the most popular vehicle in the fastest growing market segment.

      I seriously doubt Toyota will have the same level of marketplace success with the Scion iM as Honda will now have with the HR-V.

      • 0 avatar

        But Toyota’s so-far failure to engineer their own compact CUV is of a different caliber than their simply disdaining to waste resources on an insignificant toy like a 2-seater sports car. The compact CUV market matters, as you say.

        Honda isn’t trying to build their own Miata either, are they?

        • 0 avatar

          Great point, SL,

          The sad thing is that Toyota in a way pioneered this segment with the Matrix. But they didn’t update it and let it die on the vine.

          • 0 avatar

            I disagree about the Matrix. It was just a stylish (?) Corolla wagon (which allowed Toyota to combine its sales with the Corolla to artificially inflate Corollas sales figures).

            I dont view it as a vehicle similar to the HR-V, Renagade, Trax, etc. It was just a station wagon marketed as anything but a station wagon (other examples include Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevrolet HHR). I just really dont see it as a CUV as we’ve come to define the term.

            The Rav4 was a small crossover at first, until they bloated it up as they do with all of their models. I suspect thst if you parked a first-gen Rav4 next to an HR-V, theyd be pretty close in size. Mind you, I havent compared the dimensions of either, so I may be wrong, but it wouldnt surprise me if they were close.

        • 0 avatar

          Honda is indeed working on a sub-NSX sports car, and in the JDM, they recently released a dead sexy sporty little car, albeit a Kei class car that will never cross the pond.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree 110%! Been saying the same for several years now. People love to bitch and moan about such examples as the well-over-stayed Cutlass Ciera/Century, the two decades of Cavaliers that recieved about two total redesigns. But, somehow Toyota gets away with it, recieving a pat on the back and an “atta boy” from the Toyotaphiles who were the very ones who complained about GM doing the same thing.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. GM was criticized by the Toyotaphiles 15 years ago for still using 4-speed automatics – as still found in the Yaris and in base model Corollas. For that matter you can still get yourself 5-speed automatics in their truck line up while the competition is offering 6, 8 and 9 at this point. The 3.5L V6 with 268 HP has soldier on with the same HP for years now, the 1.8L 4-banger has had incremental changes that would be to the same degree as the Series I, II and III 3.8L V6 in the GM products. The 4.7L V8 is an antiquated boat anchor compared to any maker – even the thirsty 5.6L Nissan VK engine.

        Toyota has all but phoned in their refreshes on a number of key bread and butter models. Yes, they still sell – just as GM once sold millions upon millions of vehicles because gosh darn it, my dad drove a Buick, and I drive a Buick and I like me Buicks so I’m going to swim like a spawning salmon back to the Buick dealer.

        Eventually, this catches up with you, and reflects in certain Toyota models today like the B-segment Yaris and the D-segment Avalon, which are both darlings of the rental operators.

        They still get a free pass, but eventually, Toyota is going to have to step up their game, or pay the price that is coming in the NA market.

      • 0 avatar

        My Toyotas are over a decade old, and are just starting to feel like used cars – and they’ll probably last until we can afford a Tesla.

        My dad’s 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser was so much work to maintain that it turned him from a GM fan in to a Honda man. Nice looking wagon, though.

        And you have to ask what the deference is… All of the people who made my father’s Oldsmobile have retired, but GM is still more about the institution, than about the product that their customers live with every day. They’re getting better, though, so maybe they’ll have it in another decade or two.

        • 0 avatar

          Youre missing the point. Instead of having your nose up Toyota’s arse, re-read what we said. Toyota gives an old car a new exterior shell but keeps the same-ol same-old underneath.

          My parents Mercury Sable drove/felt as new in 2007 as it did in 1997 when it was built. In fact, the original Motorcraft battery only had to be replaced around that same time period.

          So what is your point? Your relatievly newer Toyotas are newer feeling compared to some 29 year old car from a carmaker that was dead and gone when your cars were built?

          Well, my 2009 TV set still works like new compared to the 1970s cabinet TV that I cut the guts out of to make a fish tank display. Whoaa Maybe youre on to something!

          By the way, Toyotas up until the late 80s werent exactly the most reliable car at the time. Head gaskets, failing electronics, and transmission issues (thats from personal experience with a 1986 Toyota). Not only did they have issues, the cost of parts and labor were many, many times higher than for an Olsmobile of the era.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          So your decade old Toyotas are just starting to feel used…and? My wife’s Tucson is pushing that and it is just starting to not feel new anymore at 90k. This is the rule now, not the exception. There was a time when Toyota durability and reliability were ahead of other makers by miles, but now they are only marginally ahead of Hyundai who 20 years ago were the laughingstock of the industry. Toyotas are good, but so are most other cars and when you judge their design and powertrains from that perspective there are now compelling reasons to buy something else.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota has been slow to move to new platforms for the past few years for a couple very important reasons. First, the witch hunt and tsunami diverted numerous resources from product development. Second, the newly developing TGNA architecture is about to begin a whole revamp of the Toyota’s bread and butter cars, starting with the Prius in less than 6 months. So to take the easy argument and say they are repeating GM’s mistakes is an utter falsehood and denies reality.

      If the largest car mfr in the world thinks there is money to be made in a segment, they will eventually be in the segment. Maybe through partnerships (iA, FR-S, Supra), maybe through incremental changes (they could jack up the iM like Subaru does to Imprezas selling as Crossteks with $3000 markups?) But to write them off for not being successful in one market niche when they excel in about a dozen is myopic.

      People on the internets love to forget how Toyota practically invented cute utes and luxury utes, how they revolutionized the full-size luxury car, how they turned an also ran mid-sized wanna be into a juggernaut, how they made hybrid synonymous with Prius, and how they have kept building the best selling car in the world year after year. But I’m sure a lot of bloggers are smarter than Toyota.

      • 0 avatar

        GM had big issues beyond its control as well. While I appreciate you blowing Toyots ‘s smoke up our asses, Toyota was doing this loooooong before the excuses you rammbled about took place.

        Honda and Nissan have faced the same issues, yet their product lines have remained quite freh.

        American automakers had it rough, too, yet we have an all-new F-150, new Transit van, new GM full sizes (SUVs and pickups), Jeep Renagade, recently all-new Fusion and Escape, new Edge, and the Chevy Traxx. Each of their (Ford/GM/FCA) new f/s SUVs and pickups are busy setting new standards, introducing somewhat unconventional materials, technology, non-V-8 engines with V-8 power when you need it, ect, ect.

        Clearly theyre trying and succeeding as a result. The only thing toyota has been trying with was to rebadge Mazdas.

    • 0 avatar

      The comment about Toyota doing just like GM used to do rings a bell, in that elsewhere on this site someone in the B&B pointed out that much of Toyota’s success in the US was the result of their bringing on board some former GM players.

      So it should be no surprise that Toyota is going down the same line, or path of least resistance. Now if they can just figure out how to get either the Japanese or the US government to provide them with significant bailout funding, they will be firmly entrenched as yet another GM story.

      Though perish the thought that that should actually happen…

      • 0 avatar

        Now if they can just figure out how to get either the Japanese or the US government to provide them with significant bailout funding, they will be firmly entrenched as yet another GM story.

        Toyota was effectively bailed out when the Japanese govt. recently devalued the yen.
        Put lots of money in Toyota’s coffers.
        Now they are spreading it around by helpoing some of the smaller japanese carmakers. Japan Inc. at work.

  • avatar

    Does it even matter if there’s a Subaru version or not? Maybe for those who won’t drive a Scion, but otherwise, who cares?

  • avatar

    In my opinion, Toyota should dump Scion, which has never lived up to expectations despite the “car company started in a garage” advertising (as if to imply that theyre Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, starting from scratch to build something unique, as opposed to what it actally is, cars designed by the same people who slap new bodywork on an old Camry or Corolla and call it “new”).

    My first suggestion is to release the next GT86 as a Toyota Celica, with modern-meets-retro look (as in the first gen Celica), and kill off the slow selling other models, or fold them back into Toyota. And for God sakes, give it a Turbo or shoe-horn a V-6 under the hood (which I know would compromise handling).

    For those of you ready to bite my head off about the modern-cum-retro idea, it seems to have worked wonders for Mustang, Camaro, Challenger (and arguably all of the LX cars), and even the incredible buzz generated by Nissan’s IDx (that they are fools for not building).

    The original xB, and to a much lesser extent, the tC, are the only Scions that sold well enough (and drew enough attention), and Toyota was absolutely idiotic to bloat up the xB into what has pretty much became a taller, slightly square compact Camry wagon.

    The *actual* second gen xB (JDM only AFAIK) kept a lot of what made the original so appealing. Rather than sell it here, they replaced it with a fat, ugly thing that noone likes as much as the earlier one.

    Dihahtsu has some genuinely unique “youth” cars in the JDM, but Toyota is too scared to bring them here as Scions. Instead, they give us rebadged Mazdas. Im sure some people will buy them, that is if they didnt notice the Mazda dealer down the street as they drove by.

    • 0 avatar

      “Instead, they give us rebadged Mazdas. Im sure some people will buy them, that is if they didnt notice the Mazda dealer down the street as they drove by.”

      Actually, Mazda decided not to bring the Mazda 2 to the US market, so if you want to buy a Mazda 2, your only option is sedan form with a Scion badge and a hideous guppy mouth.

      • 0 avatar

        Perhaps youre right about the 2 rebadge, but its just so damn ugly, Id much rather have a 3 or even a smaller Mazda crossover. At least I wouldnt have to park it between two Suburbans to keep people from seeing it.

    • 0 avatar

      I think they should actually go an entirely different way. They missed an opportunity when they brought over the Altezza as a Lexus instead of leaving it bare bones and selling it that way.

      Agree that Scion is dead. The Celica name could come back I suppose, but I would probably just name the next car the Toyota GT86 and call it a day.

      I’d prefer they just sold a small RWD sport sedan sans luxury and a coupe variant. Skip the super-sport / completely impractical crowd entirely – so a rebadge of a Miata then makes a lot of sense.

      • 0 avatar

        Perhaps we can have it both ways: name the basic 200 hp car (the equivilent to it the current setup) Celica. High output (forced induction? Bigger engine?): call it the Celica GT86.

        I found the early Celica a very cool looking sporty compact. Miles ahead of the Mustang II and the like. The recessed round quad headlamps, vauge “coke bottle” look to the rear 1/4 panels, etc. Even the Mustang rip-off tail lamps (which Im sure they could come up with something more unique this go-around). It made being small, sporty *and* cheap look good. Thats not easy, really, then or now.

        Those styling cues mixed with a bit of modern flare would be a stunning little car, IMO…. At least until Toyota makes it ugly as homemade sin, enlarges it to Avalon-size and adds 1,500lbs the next time its up for a re-do.

    • 0 avatar

      Scion is just a way to sell weird and/or half baked Toyotas in the US, without tarnishing their bland-but-dependable image.

      If you think of it that way, scion makes a lot of sense.

      • 0 avatar

        People bought Toyota Celicas, MR2s, etc under the Toyota banner. I dont see why thy wouldnt again. Scion is Toyota’s Geo or Saturn, and look what happened to them. Even rebadging actual Toyotas didnt keep Geo afloat.

  • avatar

    I’m just glad Mazda is lining up some partners. They build some nice cars, and bearing all the development costs on a full product line for a (relatively) low-volume manufacturer makes for dicey financials.

    I’m kinda surprised FCA didn’t approach Mazda. For what Marchionne is trying to accomplish, you’d think Mazda would be a good fit.

    • 0 avatar

      Whatever, it’s entertaining to consider how many $’s are going into the development of all these essentially niche market cars. They don;t have to make money on their own, but are significant for corporate image and marketing strategy.

      Look at the pharma companies, they no longer do their own research, and when a new product is needed they just buy up the smaller firms that have been working on it, then use their large scale expertise to do the marketing. Seems to be what Toyota is trying to do now.

    • 0 avatar

      A Mazda 6 Giuleta would seem to have a lot in common.

      Mazda does soom to have all of the benefits of BMW or VW, without the badge. That’s probably just what FCA is looking for, if they want to compete head to head with the Germans.

  • avatar

    As I understand it, the problem with the FRS/BRZ twins is the engine, not the platform. Fix that, perhaps with a turbo or supercharger, and it would be a much better car. If they insist on basing the next version on the Miata, I hope they include its engine.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s one of those cars that either 1) needs more power, or 2) needs to be softened a bit. The reason the Miata is such a star is because it isn’t a rides-on-rails sports car. It’s just kind of a laugh instead. Pure joy. Who cares about lap times?

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve seen a couple of track tests of the new Miata, but (despite being a sexy redesign) it shows embarrassing amounts of body roll when pushed hard – enough body roll to look almost ridiculous.

        Seeing one being thrashed hard brought images of 70’s cop shows – I expected a hubcap to come off and pass it through the serpentine.

    • 0 avatar

      In one breath you say that they should add more power and the next you say they should use the 155hp Mazda engine…

      I own an FR-S. I’d rather have another 270lbs (10%) taken off the car than an extra 20hp (10%). If Toyota wants to add more power, I’d rather get it by revving to 8000 or 8500 than a turbo or a supercharger. My only real complaint about the car is that there is certainly Subaru DNA in the interior construction (rattles). This is my 3rd Subaru, and I tell you that every damn one of them has a Subaru rattle.

  • avatar

    Will Subaru’s FA20F flat 4 fit? Nope. Didn’t think so either. Next…

  • avatar

    A non-convertible Miata coupe at last?? Man, now my interest is piqued!

    • 0 avatar

      Mine too.

      Its understandable that Subaru will not follow Toyota’s path, after all what kind of frankencar would this new BRZ be? A Mazda body with Toyota running gear with a Subaru engine? Maybe Ford can supplied the audio system and GM the transmission with Fiat putting the wheels on?

      A better question is why is little old Mazda the only company that seems to be able to make such a car successful to begin with.

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