By on September 27, 2019

Image: Subaru

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.

2017 Subaru BRZ Rear 3/4, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

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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14 Comments on “Toyobaru Twins Will See a Second Generation As Toyota and Subaru Expand Partnership...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

    Also, look for these two to merge sometime next decade.

  • avatar
    analogman

    I hope Subaru’s new overlords at Toyota don’t homogenize all the character out of Subaru’s cars.

    No car is perfect, and every make has its fans and detractors. But I think Subaru makes some of the more interesting, character-filled cars on the market today. In many ways, they’ve successfully incorporated some of the traits of Saabs into their cars, and appeal to similar buyers. Yes, they can have some issues, but on the whole, I find them more interesting and fun to drive (WRX, BRZ) than the bland appliances made by Toyota.

    When sclerotic a big company (= Toyota in this case) buys a spunky small one (= Subaru in this case), it’s often with the goal of hoping to infuse the moribund giant with some of the feistiness of the small one. Unfortunately, what usually happens is the opposite, and the bureaucracy of the giant smothers all the soul out of the upstart. I hope that doesn’t happen here.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    2.4 flat four turbo in the BRZ/86 oh please oh please oh please, especially if it comes with an honest to goodness manual trans.

    I’m sure they’ll handicap the output or something not to pee on the Supra but a man can dream.

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    This is awesome. Can’t wait to see all the cool stuff from this exchange.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Cool. I don’t see an awful lot of these on the road (usually more Subes than Toyota/Scion versions), but enough to tell that people are buying them.

  • avatar
    scott25

    As I keep asking, please please please make a practical hatchback and/or small crossover on this platform, it makes so much sense and there’s no other RWD options from mainstream brands

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I don’t care for more power in the 2G 86, but I wish it permitted taller drivers than the 2019 model.

  • avatar

    Forget about flat four or flat six – ICE engine in general is on its last legs. No one will waste money on ICE development. Toyota will gradually phase out all IC engines which means that Subaru engines will be first to be retired replaced with more reliable and higher quality Toyota engines. But thats okay – dogs and their humans do not care what engine is under hood as long as Subaru looks weird (like authentic Subaru would), has AWD (even if asymmetric, no one cares) and called Subaru on TV ads.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    It is better to have a realist in charge than a rallyist.


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