By on March 12, 2018

Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer for the Toyota 86 and upcoming Supra, has finally stamped out the possibility of a from-the-factory turbocharged version of the Toyobaru coupe. That’s right, enthusiasts, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are incapable of being turbocharged.

According to Tada, installing a turbo on the model’s 2.0-liter Boxer engines would require an entirely new platform. That’s odd, considering every reputable aftermarket company offers a turbo kit for it. Equally strange is the automaker’s total unwillingness to seriously entertain the idea of a turbocharged Toyobaru, even though it knew the public was clamoring for one.

“When we launched 86, I got literally millions of questions from around the world of ‘when would you be launching the turbo version?'” Tada said. “I believe that often times I answered that there won’t be a turbo version, and there were some articles in the media that Mr. Tada doesn’t like a turbo.”

In defense of the media, Tada-san has made their ugly jobs very easy by perpetually refusing the prospect of forced induction. Toyota and Subaru seemed interested in building a very specific kind of car — and neither wants the recipe tampered with. In an interview with CarAdvice, the chief engineer defended the claims against him.

“I do like turbos, however if we come up with a turbo version of the 86 and boost up the power that would result in the necessity of changing the basic configuration completely, to come up with a car that I would be satisfied with,” Tada explained. “One characteristic of the 86 is that in terms of the front balance its slightly front loaded so it makes the handling more fast and agile. So if we were to come up with a turbo version, we would have to go change the weight balance between the front and the rear … That means we have to come up with a completely new platform, so it’s not about just changing or slight modification in the engine parts.”

Companies like GReddy and HKS would beg to differ. If Toyota doesn’t want to mess with what it has, they will provide the alternative to a factory turbo that is never going to happen. In fact, that’s probably part of the 86/BRZ magic — it’s a fun and focused performance platform that lends itself to upgrades. Don’t like those easy-drifting narrow tires? Get something wider. Seeking more power? Well, there are dozens of aftermarket outlets that are happy to take your money if Toyota won’t.

Tada’s answer as to why a turbocharged Toyobaru is an impossibility is about as satisfying as a dry sneeze. But it does finalize the matter. No, Toyota will not be bringing out a Gazoo Racing edition of the 86 with a boosted engine. If that’s what you’re in the market for, you’ll either have to order parts and employ a little DIY or shop elsewhere. If all you want is more horsepower and rear-wheel drive, Ford’s Mustang can be had for roughly the same price. However, if you want the surgical precision of a smaller, lighter, and more dialed-in coupe, Toyota still recommends purchasing an 86 and leaving its powertrain alone.

[Images: Toyota]

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45 Comments on “The Toyota 86 Will Never Be Turbocharged, so Shut Up About It...”

  • avatar

    So Toyota Fanbois. That thing you wanted, not going to happen.

    Are you going to stay in the relationship or go?

    Toyota is giving you the middle finger but seems to believe you’re going to simply sit there and take it.

  • avatar

    According to my exhaustive research–googling a couple forums–a turbo will add 50-100 pounds to that 86. So the old Shelby Mustang trick of moving the battery to the trunk would just about even things out.

    You’re welcome Mr. Tada, where can I pick up my check?

  • avatar

    “The Filet Will Never Be Served With Ketchup On It, so Shut Up About It”–Gordon Ramsay

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      The Toybaru should never be compaired to any type of red-meat. It is more of a chicken nugget served at the drive-thru window in something called a happy meal.

  • avatar

    “No turbo for you! NEXT!”

    /but what about soup?

  • avatar

    As a general rule of thumb, whenever the Japanese mfgs respond to criticism, they are lying. The worst company in this regard is Honda, who routinely make up cloying nonsense to eschew criticism, particularly if the criticism is related to motorsport. It seems this is some sort of face saving exercise, and employees are expected to repeat falsehoods until they publicly humiliate themselves. As a result, executives often express incredulity with Western journalists whose professional skepticism makes them hostile compared to their Japanese counterparts.

    In my opinion, Mr. Tada’s remarks are an example of the phenomenon.

    An AWD turbocharged Boxer-4 is Subaru’s bread-and-butter, but it is the antithesis of Toyota. It seems Toyota compromised regarding the engine layout because they had no suitable alternative, but they were not going to turbocharge or include AWD because it would affect reliability and fuel economy. Perhaps Subaru was also afraid of messing with the WRX so they specified no turbocharging or perhaps Toyota forbade it.

    The Toybaru probably started off as a noble concept, a common chassis interpreted with two fundamentally different powertrains. Toyota or maybe both ended up getting cold feet, and the project turned into another casualty of the auto oligopoly. I hope they didn’t set out to build the vehicle we got.

    • 0 avatar

      I imagine Toyota has forbade Subaru from doing engineering work on a turbo version, and given the limited sales volume, Subaru has acquiesced. Anyway, I don’t see the 86 platform hanging around that much longer.

      • 0 avatar

        “I don’t see the 86 platform hanging around that much longer.”

        This. It ain’t a CUV or a pickup truck, hence it competes in a small market that’s getting smaller (and probably not just in the US). Why even engineer two transmission choices, let alone two engine choices, for such a vehicle when cramming a 3rd row seat into an existing Mommy-mobile would be a much better return on R&D investment.

        The established sports car manufacturers don’t bother much with sports cars anymore, they just make CUVs, so why would two established beige appliance manufacturers bother spending cash developing a sports car when there’s more money to be made in CUVs.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. Absolutely. And it can be about the most mundane things.

      Honda swore that the volume knob was gone forever, and held onto that until suddenly one day there it was–back by popular demand.

      Their behavior throughout the entire episode was exactly as you describe.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re 100% spot-on concerning the culture. Koreans also tend to dig in with both heels when confronted and consider our questioning attitude rather “aggressive”. It makes for interesting meetings.

    • 0 avatar

      TW5, I concur.

      20 years ago I worked for a Japanese manufacturer. As the VP in charge of Sales and Marketing in the US, our product line had literally nothing that the US market wanted.

      So, I’d work away on my new fiscal year spreadsheet, try my best to be optimistic, but every time I plugged in the numbers, I still came up with red at the bottom.

      “civicjohn-san, you are not creating a good sales forecast.” So I would go back, tweak it some more, and the red ink was still bleeding. So, after a few cycles of wash, rinse, repeat, I finally put in enough sales numbers to show a tiny bit of black ink at the bottom. I knew it would never happen, but all of the sudden, everything was cool and “mr. civicjohn-san, please be our guests in Tokyo next month!”

      So I packed my golf clubs and booked my business-class flight (I had that part written into my employment contract), and I was on my way for another 4-5 days of fun – 1 day of meeting at the corporate offices, 1 day of getting drunk with my “handler”, and then on a bullet train to the Northern Prefecture where they had a guest house and memberships to 2 of the best golf courses in the country.

      Needless to say, I quit the next year and they now are a shadow of what they used to be in the US. While at the time, the Japan office still had the “office without a window” option for non-performing employees, (look it up on Google, it really exists) they had no such arrangements for US employees. Forget the fact that I provided them with a number of options that would have helped US sales.

      But I had a hell of a lot of fun!

  • avatar

    This thing is turtle-flavored ice cream.

    Not fast enough to live in the pony car class, not sharp enough to compete with mid-engine stuff, not cheery enough to dethrone the Miata, and not cheap/useful enough to replace the tC.

    And the Toyota version isn’t even good-looking anymore with the new “grandma without her dentures” front end redesign.

  • avatar

    I had no idea that these 86 cars were selling so poorly. There are usually more parking spaces available in a parking garage near me than Toyota 86s sold in entire month of February across the USA. That number is 361*…the number for January was 317 by the way. Therefore, the 86 has become my new Honda CR-Z.

    * This data is according to the digital readout on the parking garage entrance as I drive by and sales data found on Good Car Bad Car.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      “Therefore, the 86 has become my new Honda CR-Z.”

      Pretty much this. Because like the CR-Z, the 86 is an answer to a question no one asked.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. However, it’s interesting that when introduced there was promise that they would be everywhere. Hardly…

        My brother figured out why they’re the answer to the question nobody asked. He priced one with performance equipment which puts it in the middle of VW GTI territory. The VW GTI is faster with a 100 more lbs./ft. of torque, more refined, and practical. Pricing for the BR-Z Subaru is even more salty.

  • avatar

    Someone pointed out on Jalopnik that the kids who would want a turbo 86 most likely couldn’t afford it anyway, and the folks who could afford it would then bitch and moan about the ride/NVH/interior. It’s a lose/lose.

    • 0 avatar

      This line of thinking makes sense until you look at the incredible number of aftermarket tuner brands that successfully sell turbo and supercharger kits for this thing. And then you look at the WRX and STI, and realize people still buy the STI, and tune the WRX, and tune the STI. And you look at the aftermarket support offered on models like the Mustang Ecoboost (or even GT, for that matter), and realize people still tune and buy both the lower end and higher end trims. And you look at the people cross-shopping the relatively inexpensive 86 with its low-rent interior to more expensive models offering far nicer fit/finish/features (GTI, ND Miata…).

      I think there are plenty of 86 owners who could have purchased a Mustang GT/Camaro SS but wanted something smaller and more nimble. The 86’s cheap interior would matter even less if the car offered 280 HP- respectable HP would have been one more reason to look past the poor NVH. Yes, the increased price associated with factory forced-induction would have made the interior even worse relative to similarly-priced cars, but the Mustang (for example) went decades with a terrible interior and still managed to sell models across a range of trims.

      I think the factors at play were a stalemate between Toyota and Subaru- with Toyota not wanting Subaru to simple slip their turbo FA20 in the BRZ version. And eventually, when the new Supra was given the green light, they didn’t want to cannibalize future sales.

  • avatar

    Oh boy, more bloviating about the “Second Coming” car. I think it came prematurely. More speculation about the car that didn’t.

    Here’s how you fix this turd: Mr. Toyota-san, have a nice tea with the gorgeous Mary Barra. If you are nice enough, maybe she will sell you enough LT1s to sell these taints and the virtue signaling Subaru versions too.

    Bingo! You’ve just created a giant killer (which was what this car was supposed to be)…

    • 0 avatar

      Now, a big V-8 probably would upset the balance and ruin the handling. Adding a turbo to the 4 wouldn’t do so nearly as much.

      People wanting a V-8 muscle car would still buy a Camaro/Mustang/Challenger.

  • avatar

    I don’t see what the problem is. Last week, while I was walking home, three *extensively* modified 86s paraded past me. I’m guessing there was a turbo (maybe even two) stuffed under the hood, but what was really visible were the Boeing-esque wings, bulging fenders and the heavily tilted wheels.

    The lack of power obviously never stopped this trio from buying an 86.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    At this point in the game, a turbo could rustle up some interest in this disappointingly slow selling model.

  • avatar

    There’s no business case for a new FI 86 when a used WRX is more practical and faster.

  • avatar

    Meanwhile, waaay over on the other side of the showroom, truck buyers have been asking for years for a diesel Tundra. And asking…. And asking….

    Sorry boys, Toyota knows best.

  • avatar
    Leonard Ostrander

    Thank you Tetsuya Tada for sticking to your principles. The 86 is a masterpiece just the way it is. I’m on my second 86 and loving it always.

  • avatar

    If you really want a turboed 86 without going the aftermarket turbo kit route, you’re better off in an EcoBoosted Mustang, anyway. Sure, it’s bigger and the handling isn’t as razor-sharp, but you get gobs more horsepower and some of that sweet pony car street cred, to boot.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    The car only exists so Toyota can have aomething that looks sporty in their showrooms. It will be quickly discontinued when the Supra hits the market.

  • avatar

    “Toyota and Subaru seemed interested in building a very specific kind of car — and neither wants the recipe tampered with.”

    They wanted to lay an egg so they could point to its failure next time we harass Toyota about not building anything interesting or with only 2 doors anymore.

    Listen, Tada, just because you had your tubes tied doesn’t mean everyone else did too.

  • avatar

    I’ve always thought of these cars as the Miata coupe that Mazda refuses to build. An electrically driven supercharger interests me more than a turbo.

  • avatar

    What a huge disappointment the Toyobaru has been. Front engined, two seats, rear-wheel-drive. I remember sitting in one in the showroom when I was waiting for my Tacoma to be brought up from make ready. I thought, “If it just had more power…”.

    • 0 avatar

      This already exists. It’s called the 370Z, and it’s doing horribly.

      Some say a refresh with the new 3.0TT would save it. I don’t think so. Sports cars have largely lost their status in the market place. The only buyers left are enthusiasts who only want to buy new… a very small market.

  • avatar

    This sounds like when the Nissan engineers said the GT-R’s massive curb weight emulated downforce

    That said, I agree that turbocharging is unnecessary. 500ccs would solve all the BRZ’s problems without introducing new ones.

  • avatar

    They’re leaving money on the table. The market for a slow sports car is tiny, and already owned by the Miata. It needs to out-accelerate a V-6 Camry or 4-cyl Mustang for many to be interested, at least as an option. Either that or be about 25% cheaper than it currently is.

    They seem unconcerned with the weight of the turbo when they turn the Imprezza into the WRX. This could also be offset by, say, moving the battery and windshield washer tank to the trunk.

  • avatar
    Leonard Ostrander

    Stop the whining. Those of us who love the 86, buy them. We are not interested in your opinions. No one is forcing any of you to buy an 86. Shut up already.

    • 0 avatar
      cimarron typeR

      Exactly this, those who wanted one already bought one , so they don’t have to watch Japanese drifting cartoons anymore. Without a newer fancier model to entice them like MX5 owners have to look forward to this will likely die off as soon as the Supra rolls into the showroom through the bi-hinged glass doors, placed directly in front of a black roofed white Camry V6 screaming “look we do sporty again!, it’s as good as 1993”
      Acura does the same with the NSX and TLX in their showrooms, and not many are buying either.

  • avatar

    None of the aftermarket turbochargers are even remotely emissions compliant.

    In order to package the turbocharger, the integrated exhaust manifold/catalytic converter need to be removed. That’s most likely a local problem for inspection and definitely a federal offense.

    The practical solution for boost from the factor is a top-mounted supercharger (think a crab sitting on top of the intake).

    Or, even better, go with a 2.5L making 250 hp. It’s doable. People are getting 200ish at the wheels out of the factory setup (that’s good for about 235 magazine horsepower from a 2 liter).

    • 0 avatar
      Carlo Rossi

      “None of the aftermarket turbochargers are even remotely emissions compliant.” -Ricky Spanish

      That’s not true. A company called Works makes a 50 state legal turbo kit.

      Back to the point at hand. A 200hp toyobaru is a good car the same way an AC Ace was a good car. Or a 140hp 240sx was a good car.

      Shelby came along and “solved” a problem yet thought not to exist and made the Cobra, which was much much better than the Ace ever was.

      The 240sx was a good but underpowered car until guys started throwing SRs into them.

      If only Toyota or Subaru could get it through their thick skulls that we like the really good car they made, we’re just dying for them to make a great one.

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