Toyobaru Twins Will See a Second Generation As Toyota and Subaru Expand Partnership

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
toyobaru twins will see a second generation as toyota and subaru expand partnership

Following a long period of speculation, the future of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ — affordable, jointly-developed rear-drive sport coupes that American buyers seem allergic to — has now become clear. Following a joint announcement from the two automakers, we now know the slow-selling Toyobaru twins will live on into a second generation.

Toyota and Subaru announced Friday that their ongoing partnership, birthed in 2005, will broaden into a greater alliance in the coming years. Part of that pact will ensure a new pair of low-end sports cars, though Subaru also stands to gain more hybrid vehicles.

Already, we knew these two partners were hopping deeper into bed with each other. In June, Toyota and Subaru — both latecomers to the electric vehicle realm with nary a single EV between them — announced the development of a shared, dedicated EV platform. Leveraging both companies’ strengths, the project will yield an EV boasting Toyota electrification and Subaru all-wheel drive.

“In this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation, by strengthening their bonds and aligning their capabilities, Toyota and Subaru aim to pursue driving enjoyment in the CASE (connected, autonomous/automated, shared, and electric) era and to make ever-better cars beyond what either company has been able to achieve thus far,” the automakers stated.

“Furthermore, to deepen their relationship and to strengthen their ties toward advancing to the next stage while respecting the identity of each other’s brand, the two companies have agreed that Toyota will increase its equity stake in Subaru and that Subaru will acquire shares in Toyota.”

The share buy will see Toyota raise its stake in Subaru to 20 percent, giving it one-fifth voting rights in its Japanese rival/partner.

In addition to the development of the second-gen 86 and BRZ, the deeper alliance means “bringing together both companies’ strengths to jointly develop all-wheel-drive models that offer the ultimate sensation in all-wheel driving,” the automakers announced. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda admitted to being smitten with Subaru’s full-time symmetrical AWD system.

Certainly, adopting Subaru’s tech would help the traditionally staid Toyota advance its goals of building a more exciting brand with more engaging products. Whatever AWD products come from the pact would be a joint affair.

“I, myself, am a rallyist, and, through my experience of training hard in an Impreza, I have felt in my veins the wonders of Subaru’s AWD technologies,” Toyoda said. “Meanwhile, we at Toyota have been going all out to hone our all-wheel-drive technologies by participating in the World Rally Championship, among other activities.”

For its part, Toyota says it will hand over use of its Toyota Hybrid System to additional Subaru models. Currently, only the Crosstrek Hybrid sold in ZEV states offers the system.

“This new step in our alliance with Toyota will lead to enhancing ‘Enjoyment and Peace of Mind’ that Subaru is committed to deliver; and I am confident that our customers will love what we offer through these efforts,” said Subaru President Tomomi Nakamura.

It’s expected that the second-gen Toyobaru twins will appear late next year or in 2021, likely boasting greater power than their current naturally aspirated form (lackluster output has long been a gripe with these two, though their light weight and tossable nature have certainly earned them fans). Rumors abound that the models might adopt the new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder launched in the Subaru Ascent crossover for 2019. That mill, which makes 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, has since appeared in the 2020 Legacy and Outback.

[Images: Subaru, Jeff Wilson/TTAC]

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  • JLGOLDEN In order for this total newcomer to grab and hold attention in the US market, the products MUST be an exceptional value. Not many people will pay name-brand money for the pretty mystery. I can appreciate the ambition of selling $50K+ crossovers, but I think they will go farther with their $30K-$40K offerings.
  • Dukeisduke They're where Tesla was when it started - a complete unknown. I haven't heard anything about a dealer network. How are they going to sell these? Direct like Tesla? Franchises picked up by existing new car dealers?
  • Master Baiter As I approach retirement, and watch my IRA and 401K account balances dwindle, I have less and less interest in $150K vehicles.
  • Azfelix With a name that sounds like a bad Google translation, problems appear to permeate every aspect of the company. I suggest a more aggressive advertising campaign during The Super Terrific Happy Hour show to turn things around.
  • Buickman GoneFast.