Toyota Exec Confirms Development of Next-gen 86/BRZ
As the future of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ began looking rather bleak in the West, we spent the the better part of this year trying to figure out the automakers’ next move. While both automakers were rumored to have something in development, subsequent reports looked less promising. Much talk surrounded what Subaru might do if Toyota pulled out of their next cooperative endeavor.
Maybe we were all just worked up over the sudden surge of special-edition models heralding the final stage in the vehicle’s lifespan. Still, with only minor reassurances coming from either manufacturer, concerns mounted. Some even floated the idea that Japan’s base-level Supra could eventually replace the 86 globally. However, it seems these fears were overblown. Toyota has confirmed that a new 86 is in development in conjunction with Subaru.
The news comes via Toyota Motor Europe’s executive vice president, Matt Harrison. On Friday, Autocar quoted him as saying the nimble little coupe’s position as a “halo product” served it well enough not to be ousted by the company’s more-famous coupe.
“Supra is not to replace that car,” he explained. “They are for different audiences and are different products. We see a situation where they will sit alongside each other.”
The original GT86, launched in 2011, was co-developed with Subaru alongside the BRZ. It uses Subaru’s flat-four Boxer engine and transmission, and Harrison said it was “a safe assumption” that the next-generation model would retain those links. Toyota has used partnerships to help offset the high costs of developing relatively low-volume sports car models, with the Supra developed alongside the BMW Z4.
Toyota sees the GT86 and similar sports car models as powerful brand ambassadors, and company boss Akio Toyoda recently expressed a desire to build a full family of performance machines, in particular with its hot GR Sport line.
Previous rumors hinted at the next-generation 86/BRZ receiving a 2.4-liter mill ( likely Subaru’s FA24) with improved power output, while retaining a similar formula to their predecessor. This hasn’t been confirmed, though Harrison’s words don’t disprove that as a possibility.
Sales of the two models have not been particularly healthy. Toyota’s annual deliveries of the 86 declined in the U.S. every year since 2013. Subaru suffered a similar fate with the BRZ, which yielded even worse sales. Both companies will be lucky to move 4,000 examples in America this year. Even if they don’t, they’ll still manage to outpace European sales by a wide margin.
However, Harrison says the 86 isn’t about numbers. “Its role is not one particularly about volume globally. It’s about adding excitement to the brand and emotional appeal,” he said. “The GT86 has definitely been successful for us in achieving that, particularly in markets like the UK.”
[Images: Toyota; Subaru]
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