Will the Subaru BRZ Survive If Toyota Nixes the 86?
News of the Toyota Supra’s four-cylinder engine, currently relegated to the Japanese market, bolstered media assumptions that the base model could eventually replace the 86 coupe in North America. While that’s a bit of a stretch, especially considering The Japan Times says a second-generation 86 is rumored to in the works for 2021, sales of the model sank nearly 40 percent in the United States last year. Toyota has also suggested it is considering paring its North American lineup.
Like the Supra, Toyota’s 86 is shared with a manufacturer that sells it under a different name, with its own unique flair. It may not sell as well, but the Subaru BRZ is essentially the same vehicle and its manufacturer doesn’t want you to worry about Toyota. It would like to continue building the lightweight sports coupe even if the 86 goes extinct. However, wanting to and doing so are two completely different things.
“The car has been great for the brand, certainly one of the halo vehicles from a performance perspective,” Subaru’s head of North American communications, Ron Kiino, told CarBuzz at the 2019 North American International Auto Show. “As far as giving customers a Subaru feel, a lightweight sports car, the boxer engine is a big part of that. For our brand we think the BRZ makes sense and we feel there’s a demand.”
When asked if a decision by Toyota not to do a new 86 would result in the elimination of the BRZ, Kiino said “it’s not an immediate death sentence,” without elaborating further.
While it would be hard to imagine the BRZ without the 86, Subaru could theoretically go it alone. Both models are manufactured at its Gunma assembly plant, smack dab in the middle of Japan, without much aid from Toyota. Sure, Big T designed the transmission and fuel injection system, but the rest of the flat-four powertrain is pure Subaru.
That doesn’t necessary mean fate will be kind to the BRZ without Toyota’s involvement. Last year, Subaru only managed to move 3,834 units in the U.S. and Kiino’s words are only tepidly reassuring. We’re not prepared to assume anything other than Subaru not wanting to let go of the model unless it has to — which seems probable.
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Doubt it! It built in the same assembly plant as the 86 and the 86 sells 20% more cars then the BRZ.
Conspiracy theory time: Didn't Toyota tell use this vehicle would be short-lived just by the name? "Klinger, 86 the 86, would ya?"