By on September 15, 2018

Image: Subaru

Outside of the addition of extra horsepower, it doesn’t seem like anything’s capable of turning the Subaru BRZ and its Toyota 86 twin into sales powerhouses. Even the power hypothesis is debatable.

Instead, the two rear-drive 2+2s soldier on into 2019 with minor equipment changes, plus the addition of an annoyingly-named Series.Gray variant for the BRZ. Like past special editions, there’s a strict limit on the number available. That’s not a problem, as there seems to be a strict limit on the number of BRZ or 86 models anyone’s willing to buy.

The Series.Gray Edition BRZ uses an uplevel Limited model as its canvas, pushing its price to $31,025 after a destination fee. Base BRZs, now featuring LED leadlights, start at $26,680 for 2019. Price increases for base (Premium) and Limited models amounts to $200 and $250, respectively, with an unmolested Limited now going for $29,530 after destination.

The new variant is, as you’d expect, gray. Cool Gray Khaki, to be exact (how did they stumble upon my college nickname?). Joining the Subaru-centric shade — which also comes to the WRX and WRX STI for the coming model year — is a standard performance package, adding larger brake discs and bright red Brembo binders. A half-inch increase in wheel width (they’re 17-inchers) and Sachs dampers prepares the car for a life of endless track use. Or perhaps not. Those wheels also gain a black finish used on the model’s badging.

Image: Subaru

Like stock Limited models, the Series.Gray BRZ enjoys a 7.0-inch infotainment screen and heated leather-and-Alcantara seating, plus a 4.2-inch digital driver information center nestled between the speedometer and tach. New for 2019, the Limited’s navigation system receives over-the-air updated via its Wi-Fi connection.

As the performance package only comes with a six-speed manual, you won’t have the option of ordering this gray stallion with a six-speed slushbox. No complaints here — the stick’s the best option for wringing all 205 horses and 156 lb-ft from the 2.0-liter Boxer four, and going automatic drops power by 5 hp. Availability also comes into play here, as Subaru only plans to sell 250 Series.Gray BRZs in the U.S.

Interestingly, that’s not too far from the model’s average monthly volume. In August — Subaru’s best U.S. sales month ever — the constellation brand moved 383 BRZs, a 13.7 percent year-over-year increase. Year to date, however, the BRZ saw its sales slip 12 percent. While the model accounted for only 0.59 percent of all Subaru sales over the first eight months of 2018, we’ll undoubtedly miss it when it’s gone.

Simple, affordable fun seems on the verge of extinction.

[Image: Subaru of America]

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44 Comments on “2019 Subaru BRZ’s ‘Series.Gray’ Treatment Could Lead to Dozens of New Sales...”


  • avatar
    Ion

    It might be my phone but that looks about as gray as Mercedes’ 988 “diamond silver” aka baby blue.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Wait, that’s just primer gray, shot over w/ clear. Sickening. If it was a Yaris they’d at least throw some metal flakes.

    But 156 ft/lbs, high on the rev band is still a joke. Kills the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I have to admit, I’m a fan of this color. Ford had a variant of it in the 1980s, I jokingly called it battleship gray and to me it was the prefect color for a Fox body Mustang LX 5.0 notchback.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Nah color reminds me too much of that summer in college helping the HVAC maintenance by painting boilers. The cans of Rustoleum said the color was “battleship gray”

  • avatar
    Mike_H

    An entire product line is being lost for the simple lack of a turbocharger. Horrible marketing and product planning.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      Well put. No reason not to offer variations. VW would sell 15 different models with 200 variations on that one platform. No-one would bat an eyelid.
      And we have all seen that even crappy small turbo engines sell a lot more.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        …But are still just as crappy.

        Everyone else falling over themselves to stick crappy turbo engines in everything, may just be the best thing that ever happened to the few holdouts who still know better.

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          Only problem with GT86/BRZ/FR-S is that the 2.0 boxer is great on paper, but absolute crap in reality. It’s quite an achievement to make a bespoke one-off engine especially for an enthusiast car and fail so bad that people much prefer cars with engines taken from mass-produced econoboxes, some even appearing in vans…

          I wanted to buy a BRZ but the engine sounds so grating (I don’t even care about the lack of torque) that I just couldn’t. Then add the fact that it isn’t so affordable in all markets, and now later on you can get lots of other options for that price or less, even Fiata roadsters for similar money (pricing of course may vary depending on the market). For me the interior was too cheap feeling and looking for that price too, but that I might’ve accepted if the engine would’ve been any good.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I wish they would offer that prototype shooting brake model that they previewed a couple of years ago. It would fill a niche for those who want a sports car but don’t need to go for a CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      I think it would be so much easier to have a factory installed supercharger. A unit that would bolt directly onto the horizontally opposed heads and be belt driven.

      My preference, however, would be a N/A straight 4 mated to their AWD system.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      And at this point the BRZ/FR-S/86 is getting long in the tooth while the competition gets upgraded. I just see zero reason for buying this given other options at close to similar price points. Another $2k gets you a lot more car for the track.

  • avatar
    ACCvsBig10

    Make it 325hp with 100 lb-ft, rev to 10k rpms with na motor add an optional cvt = profit

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      That’s a downward extrapolation of a Formula 1 engine. Likely not going to happen.

      • 0 avatar
        ACCvsBig10

        Well isnt that what happened in initial d, had a standard engine that revved to like 7k-8k blew that one up and swap in a more powerful one that went up to 10-11k.

        Subaru could probably do that easily by swapping out the 2.0 with the 2.5

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          As much as I personally would be willing to spend mortgage money for a Toyota-grade-reliability-and-livability version such a beast; even motorcycles are struggling to keep their revs up, despite facing infinitely more lenient emissions requirements than cars.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ” willing to spend mortgage money for a Toyota-grade-reliability-and-livability version ”

            That’s an excellent (selling) point. And a lot of people do just that.

            They’ll sell everyone they make AND there will be demand for more.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Collective wisdom on the internet is shameful on this car – as is TTAC and the commenters above.

    There is a bolt on turbo kit that gives 250HP and 210 ft-lbs, which is awesome on this class and weight of car. It doesn’t void your warranty on anything other than a blown engine due to over-boost (which won’t happen).

    Toyota and Subaru wanted car-mod culture, heck any car culture, to survive, and they created a high-value, low-cost of entry car, more or less perfect for it.

    Yes, every braniac on the internet (aside from the forums where guys love these cars) wants the car to be a Mustang GT off the shelf instead, preferably for $16,000.

    Meanwhile, SUVs keep taking over, most of them bought by those clamoring for a BRZ with ‘More powar!.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’d be nice if the cars were complete, right off the showroom floor. Or at least a factory approved kit, dealer installed, rolled into the lease/loan, with no warranty penalty, harmed resale, emissions, 50 states, etc. Or just simply point us to where they sell Mustangs.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        That would, kind of, make it really hard for the smaller, independent shops comprising “car culture.” Modding is an integral part of that. At least in spacetimes where buyers aren’t all so credit addicted they demand that cartons of cigarettes be included in the smokers pack, so they can be “rolled into the lease.”

        Also, the cars are very complete off the floor. Add more power and grip, and you need much more expensive brakes, and end up spending much more on consumables if you track it. The incomplete ones, are the ones which require a ceramic brake package to be track worthy.
        The 86, and the Miata, can be tracked for almost motorcycle money. Which is one of the reasons seemingly all motorcyclists (at least sport bikers) do track days, while few car guys do.

        The lower power and speed potential, also makes smaller tracks more interesting. Perhaps not a big deal in America, where lawyer welfare ranks a googol orders of magnitude above entusiasts’ freedom to have a decent time. But not every country is (I hope) as saddled with rent seeking deadweight in positions of power as the US.

        • 0 avatar
          b534202

          If these Brembos can’t take another 50hp they should just chunk them into the garbage.

          And taking motorcycle to the track is expensive. They want you to safety wire every nuts and bolts. And you need basically a racing suit to get on track. This is assuming you don’t drop it and can ride the bike to the track and back and don’t need a truck to haul it.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Brake cooling is difficult. It depends on air getting to the hot surfaces. And on a street car, just opening everything up, doesn’t do much for aerodynamics, mpg. etc. Also, on a street car, you can’t reduce weight the way you can on a dedicated racer.

            Bigger rims, allowing for bigger everything, helps. But that gets costly quick. And tends to go hand in hand with grippier rubber, which puts more demand on brake cooling….

            High temperature-tolerance brake materials, like ceramics, do help. But again, aren’t cheap. Nor really all that street friendly, although they have gotten better.

            A less powerful engine keeps everything lighter and slower. Making harder rubber tires a suitable option. Such tires wear longer, so is cheaper. And, they are less grippy, so they put lower demand on brakes. They also allow for softer suspension tuning, which also helps make the car more lively and fun at the lower speeds the engine can deliver.

            In a car, which doen’t lean in turns, the main element that keeps the drive exciting, is slip angles. Whether from X speed and Y grip, or X+m speed and Y+n grip, doesn’t make all that much difference, as long as you’re driving past the point where everything is completely on rails.

            On a motorbike, a hard rubber tire limits lean angle, which can make a track day more dull. Kissing the pavement at speed really does add a dimension to a motorcycle track day, that rolling around upright can’t match. But in a car, unless you are racing, or have spent enough time at tracks that running 10/10ths is boring to you unless G-forces can be increased from .85 to 1.05, the slower, softer, cheaper, less grippy car is just about as much fun as a faster, stiffer one. At a fraction of the cost per outing.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      210 ft lbs of torque! OMG!!!!

      The Ford EcoBoost 2.0L has 270 ft lbs, as used in cars like the Ford Fusion (and not even the Fusion Sport). The 2.3L EcoBoost has 305 lb ft of torque, as used in some sporty cars like the base Mustang and Focus RS. 210 ft lbs would be embarrassing to a loaded midsize sedan, let alone a “modded” sports car.

      The stock 86/BRZ has less torque than the 3.0L OHV V-6 in my 1995 Ford Taurus. That’s kinda pathetic.

      (No, I’m not saying my Taurus is faster, I’m simply saying that the torque generated by the Boxer rattle trap is laughable.)

      The lack of torque is what contributes to the “feels slow” repetitive assertions from those who have driven the car and look at it objectively.

      You point out that the only people who love these cars are on the forums dedicated to them. Well, the same was true of the Ford Tempo, as in the website that formerly hosted forums dedicated to that car. Does that mean the Tempo is some sort of misunderstood hidden gem that should be every automotive enthusiasts’ object of desire? Hardly. Its just that those who did appreciate the car for what it was gathered in one place and, SURPRISE, they didn’t hate their cars. That doesn’t mean anything in the whole scheme of things, of course they tend to like the car. Why else would they be there? There are similar forums for the GM J body, the Chrysler K car, and many others that most of us don’t think of as all that special or deserving of attention. You’ll find many people who praise their cars and love them despite their flaws.

      Is the Toyobaru the modern equivalent of a Ford Tempo or Dodge Aries? No, but I feel the need to point out that I’m not making that claim before my words are twisted as though I am…just like with comparing the torque to a quarter century old family sedan’s base engine.

      When researching sporty coupes, all of the 86s and BRZs I found were $30-35k. Yes, technically, they start the same as a Civic Si, but I couldn’t find any that cheap. I did find plenty of Civic Si coupes priced exactly where they should be, as in $25-26k. I’m sure they’re out there, but the sum of my digging resulted in paying about $10k more for the Toyobaru. Is it $10k better? I doubt it. Especially when I could find V-8 Mustangs for the same price or cheaper.

      You can rant all you want about how the car is so perfect and we are all too ignorant to realize it if that makes you feel better, but it doesn’t change the fact that the car is handicapped, and it takes a certain enthusiast to appreciate it (and one who can be obtuse about its deficiencies). The rest of us aren’t too stupid to get it, we get it just fine, we just are underwhelmed by what we get.

    • 0 avatar
      pprj

      It is very simple. I have no interest whatsoever to chase a turbo kit myself. Don’t have the time. I went to the dealer with my checkbook. Ready to buy one. But the engine is a complete joke. Kept my money.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        +1 what really makes no sense to me about this power problem is Subaru makes GREAT turbo engines. Why didn’t they just engineer this car from the get go to have a turbo option? That would immediate prop up sales. However at this point its too late, everyone who wanted one already bought it.

        I’ve driven one on track – and no doubt its fun, it is so easy to drive… BUT everyone is right: the engine is a major disappointment. It lacks torque in the exact spot you need it. I drove low torque / high reving Honda’s for years and they felt quick, not powerful but had great throttle response. The BRZ just kind of goes at its own pace regardless of much throttle you give it. Granted I was accustomed to the very linear power delivery of the almost truck-like V6 in my 350Z, but when I took the BRZ out on track I actually looked down at the rev counter wondering what was wrong. It felt like I was driving uphill the whole time.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          “It lacks torque in the exact spot you need it.”

          I agree. The engine needs to be more engaging and, dare I say it, more playful.

          The Miata has less horsepower and torque yet is a blast to drive. Same with the previous Civic SI.

          The S2000 had 160 ft-lbs of torque and is still one of the most engaging cars to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        …It is very simple. I have no interest whatsoever to chase a turbo kit myself. Don’t have the time…

        This. GM was getting 260 HP and 300 torque out of the ECOTEC 2.0 turbo, the engine is reliable, and from the factory overbuilt out of the gate. Heck you could run it on regular unleaded. A GMPP Stage I kit cost $650, dealer installed, bumped up fuel requirements to premium and brought the engine to 300 HP and 340 torque.

        The 2.5 Boxer in the BRZ/FR-S/86 is a fail, and it isn’t because Toyota said to themselves, “let’s put a under-performing engine on here on purpose so people buying these will need to drop another $5K into making it right. We’ll sell a million of them.”

        If the stock Brembos can’t take another 50 HP and 60 pound feet of torque, that’s another huge issue in itself. If the brake cooling is that “complicated,” it points to another design flaw in the package.

        The 86 is now 7 model years old with no platform evolution, that is ancient in this space. The only other indirect competitor I can think of that has an older chassis is the 370Z.

        It also ignores that the 86 and variants had significant quality issues in the first model year, including the engine.

        Way too long to market, over marketed, then when the numbers didn’t even come close to success the marketing was killed, branded Scion when it should have been a Celica from the word go, cheap interior (Scion version out of the gate), came in about $5K above the promised price point, and with less power than promised. Despite being partnered with Subaru zero consideration for turbo or AWD on the platform. Then something that might have breathed a bit more life into sales, a convertible version, axed.

        It’s a case study in how not to engineer, launch, or market a product.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Toyobaru intenders wanted a car that could beat the American performance cars off the shelf as well.

      The intenders wanted the return of their Supra IV, TT 300 ZX and RD RX-7’s and they want them to take on and smash their American rivals (Camaro, Corvette, Mustang and Challenger) for the same price or cheaper.

      Instead they got a car that auto journo’s insisted the value lay in the “fun to drive at moderate speeds” factor when the Miata had that covered (and embarrassingly kicks sand in the face of the Toyobaru cars).

      If anything when it came to modifications they wanted cars with four cylinder and six cylinder engines that could make the same four digit power the V8 guys are making with more aggressive builds. Instead they got an engine that fell short of the V6 and T4 pony cars and hard pressed to outpower even some of the naturally aspirated V8 cars out there.

      In short Japanese Import fans want something heroic.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I think the collective wisdom is correct on this one. This car that was hailed as the Second Coming, came prematurely. I’ve said many times, there’s nothing wrong with this car that an Ecotec wouldn’t fix, or better yet, a LSx/LTx would do 10 times better.

      As JohnTaurus and others mentioned, no one wants to mess around with a kit after buying a car. I’d rather lease an Ecoboost Mustang or one of the turbo 4 banger Camaros with the 1LE package rather than this car. It has all of the equipment it needs and can actually run around the track (if that’s your bag) right off the showroom floor.

      No heroic efforts needed.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “… I’d rather lease an Ecoboost Mustang or one of the turbo 4 banger Camaros…”

        Many people would especially if you just look at the specs. I’ve driven all three and the Mustang and Camaro felt like boats comparatively. The BRZ is the least powerful, but to me, the most fun to drive and it feels like a sports car.

  • avatar
    riggodeezil

    “Cool Gray Khaki”. Looks pretty good on the Crosstrek. Not sure about it on a BRZ. I just love how car companies come up with these fancy names for plain colors and the Goobs just go ga-ga over them. I know 2 people that recently bought Tacomas. They were not happy when I referred to their trucks as “beige” and “gray”. I guess when you plunk down $40K for a pick-em-truck you get to use fancy sounding names like “quicksand” and “cement”…even though they are really just beige and gray to my eyes.

  • avatar
    kivis

    A lot of phooey y’all. I have a ’17 BRZ w/ performance pack and this thing rocks a million times over. Nothing else handles like this rig. plenty fast just not muscle fast. Who cares? It is my daily driver and everyday it puts a smile on my face. What the hell else do you want?

  • avatar
    kivis

    A lot of phooey y’all. I have a ’17 BRZ w/ performance pack and this thing rocks a million times over. Nothing else handles like this rig. plenty fast just not muscle fast. Who cares? It is my daily driver and everyday it puts a smile on my face. What the hell else do you want? BTW, I paid $27,500 for mine

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    One of the few ‘cool’ cars I see nearly every morning is a black ToyBaru. I go against rush hour both ways and, like me, he’s an early riser. He drives faster than I do, though. I’ve seen and heard him leave the coffee shop we both frequent on our opposing commutes ( yes, it’s a tim horton’s ) and he’s definitely having more fun than I am – and getting thrice the mileage, I’d wager. It may be a point-n’-shoot, one-trick-pony but in this age of SUV and truck dominance it cheers me to see huge companies devote billions to the tiny percentage of enthusiasts who will buy a BRZ. Mazda Miata/MX5, I’m looking at you, too.

  • avatar

    The whole article nothing was said about Love. That is what sells these machines. BRZ = Love, Mustang – not. Love does not need turbo.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    A “coexist” bumper sticker with red lettering would really pop on this special edition. Those who bemoan the power numbers just don’t get it. When transporting dogs and blind transient hitchhikers it’s the journey itself that’s important, go too fast and you won’t hear the whales. Should you encounter a twisting mountain road go ahead and stand on the accelerator though, if you plummet off a 600 foot cliff you’ll survive because it’s a Subaru.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Remember about 20 years ago when the writing was on the wall for another light, RWD, somewhat underpowered, but fun as anything car…the Nissan 240sx? Now tuners, drifters, and anyone who likes cheap, fun cars tries in vein to find one that hasn’t returned to its base elements or modified to something beyond hope. That’s what this Subaru is bound to become. Something the press loved, but just couldn’t find any traction with sales, even with a reasonable price. Like the Nissan, I don’t think more power could have saved it. It’s just the right (read: fun and relatively inexpensive) car at the wrong time. The Nissan was killed off by Nissan’s hopelessness at that time and the rise of the similarly priced truck-based SUV. The Subaru is in a market where over 70% of sales are crossovers and trucks. With those numbers, this car could be the second coming, but who’d notice?
    Even the gold standard for inexpensive fun, the MX-5, isn’t selling that well. At least Mazda isn’t giving up on it…

  • avatar
    Hogey74

    I’m sorry to hear that these aren’t selling well over there. It’s a cheap but decent basic car that is meant to be hotted up. Right down to the low-grip tyres. Compared to the MX5/Miata, it’s got much more potential. A lot of people just want an off-the-shelf car and obviously other vehicles suit better. I’m too tall for one – tested them the week they came out. At the time I wasn’t prepared to replace the drivers seat and ended up in a forester lol.

    People are much fatter and more indebted now. That’s why there are a lot less boat and aircraft sales compared to the 1970s. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that a small, sporty vehicle that cries out for improvement isn’t selling in the US.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I think 200 hp is more than enough in this kind of car. But it would be a big help if Toyota did something to remove the bump in the roof into which my head presses. And it’s not even a part of the crash structure: it’s just a completely useless wasted space that precludes taller drivers.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Won’t they at least make a “Series.blue” or “Series.yellow”? God, I’m so sick of shade of gray cars.

    • 0 avatar
      hlavco

      I’m bored by grey as well, but they’ve actually already done Series.blue in 2015 and Series.yellow in 2017. I’m sad I missed the yellow ones, they looked great.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    As far as the silly name, I expected no less from the country that thinks that “Steins;Gate” and “[email protected]” are acceptable names.

  • avatar
    ilkhan

    I test drove a BRZ in 2015. I liked it well enough… until I walked across the street and test drove a Mustang… and then didn’t think about the suby again.

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