By on January 15, 2020

Thanks largely to its status as a niche product, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ have been on deathwatch for years. But their saving grace as stellar machines to drive has kept them from being abandoned. The Toyobaru Twins still receive quite a bit of love, even if the affection is not spread around all that liberally. Despite this, both models are expected to receive a successor.

While a quick glance at their sales record makes this seem like a losing strategy, Toyota remains obsessed with rebuilding its reputation within motorsport (often with help from another manufacturer). Toyota head Akio Toyoda has even expressed a personal dream of returning to an era where the company has revived — or replaced — its most iconic performance models. The Supra and 86 are already here, leaving room for the Celica and/or MR2. Ditching the 86 would be a step backwards, even if it only moved 3,398 units in the United States last year — its worst showing to date. 

According to Autocar, the next BRZ/86 is in the midst of development and a few details can already be set in stone — soft stone, like alabaster —  for its successor. The first big change involves some rebranding.

Originally dubbed the Scion FR-S for its North American launch in 2012, the model was renamed the 86 when that brand folded — bringing it closer to naming strategies used in other parts of the world while making better reference to the AE86. While that often included a FT or GT prefix, its successor will swap those for one that ties it in with Gazoo Racing.

Thus far, GR’s passenger cars have stayed primarily in Asia, with a few being shipped to Europe to promote brand awareness. Meanwhile, Toyota Racing Development (TRD) has remained the division synonymous with performance here. But that could soon change. The Supra is sold globally as the “GR Supra” and Gazoo has created a global presence by entering into racing events around the world. It’s not a stretch to imagine the 2nd-generation coupe carrying the GR86 name everywhere its sold.

Autocar claims the next BRZ/86 will be built around Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA), which is already used by practically every model in its current lineup:

While Toyota underpinnings will be used, Subaru is expected to once again take the lead with powertrain development. Autocar understands the car is likely to retain a flat-four ‘Boxer’ engine, with reports in Japan suggesting that the existing 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit will be switched for the turbocharged 2.4-litre powerplant currently used in the Ascent, Legacy and Outback models.

That should provide fans suggesting the current Toyobaru is woefully underpowered with some much needed rest. The presumed engine makes 260 horsepower (at 5,600 rpm) and 277 lb-ft of torque (starting at 2,000 rpm) in the Subaru Legacy. By comparison, current BRZ/86s make 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque with the manual transmission and a bit less with the automatic.

The downside is that this will likely result in a higher price tag and greater curb weight. But Toyota, which seems to be leading the charge, won’t want to step on the Supra more than it has to. Japan already has a bargain-basement variant of its flagship coupe with under 200 hp, requiring the brand to be extra careful in how it handles the 86. Expect both of the twins adopt a few new creature comforts the current generation lacks, without trying to become truly plush. The 2+2 twins need a dash more mainstream appeal and refinement, without sacrificing the dynamics that makes them stand-out models. Rear-drive should be maintained, and we’ll just have to pray the same is true for there being a manual option.

We’re excited for the vehicles and the prospect of Toyota bringing Gazoo Racing westward. The 268 horsepower and 273 lb-ft Yaris GR is just begging to become a local legend. There’s even a petition (you could sign) to bring it to North America. If not, the new Toyota GR86 should be sufficiently thrilling in its stead… unless you prefer the Subaru.


[Images: Toyota Motor Corp]

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31 Comments on “New Details Emerge for 86/BRZ Successor: More Power, Newish Name...”

  • avatar

    “The presumed engine makes 260 horsepower (at 5,600 rpm) and 277 lb-ft of torque (starting at 2,000 rpm) in the Subaru Legacy.”

    Here’s hoping – that engine makes that torque from 2,000 to 4,800 RPM. Talk about a plateau over a peak! And it propels the Legacy from 0-60 in 6 sec flat. If they actually allow it to be paired with a manual, I’m sold.

    Just keep the price under V8 American competitors.

  • avatar

    Name sounds like a bad vanity plate… “Greaty Six”

  • avatar

    Four years ago these cars could be found listed for less than 25k all around my area. (Chicago). Today you’ll have a hard time finding a listing under 30k, for an older design.

    Price, as always, is everything.

    • 0 avatar

      Price is everything. Proof is in the pudding…

      December 2019 Vehicle Sales According to Automotive News:

      Toyota 86 (including the FR-S) – 276 (’19 annual sales of 3,398 units)

      Subaru BRZ – 131 (’19 annual sales of 2,334 units)

      Those numbers are utterly pitiful. So much for a car that we all were told was going to sell like crazy. More power or not, how can execs make a business case for a redo of this kind of a car?

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Today: “Finally, this is exactly what this car needs to sell!”

    2022: “Eh, the backseat is too small and it’s too expensive now. You can get a used [insert car here] for that much.”

    • 0 avatar

      Ooh, and don’t forget about “purity” and “driver engagement” and how you really should just buy a Miata.

      All I’m hearing is the second coming of the Hyundai Genesis coupe.

  • avatar

    Looks like a good improvement! I am sure that some components will have to be beefed up to handle the extra power, but it’s not like they’re putting a V8 in there. Maybe an extra 120 pounds? That should be manageable.

  • avatar

    Nice. Here’s hoping Nissan gets it’s act together and makes a newer Z car too. Throw in a new Genesis coupe for good measure. The age of affordable sporty rwd coupes rises again. Yeah, I know but a guy can dream right?

  • avatar

    People always complained about the lack of power with these. Thats not the issue so much as it is the delivery. The subaru engine has a torque dip from like 3k-4.5k and you notice it…alot and it makes the car feel lot slower than it really is. My friend has one and I always thought it would feel better with a toyota i4 motor like the camry 2.5.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a 2012 scion frs and if you want the torque dip gone change the overpipe. Couple hundred bucks and a bit of effort and you will see a decent fix to that dip. Need more after that? Get a tune with an open flash tablet to take advantage of no restriction and let a new aggressive map add more fuel. Still not happy? Add a header. Still need more? Do full exhaust. Still need more. Speed by design turbo or other equivalent (gotta be at least 30 options now)

      I’m running sbd350 turbo (old) with Nvidia exhaust all the way and putting down 309hp and 245 ft lbs to the wheel on 9″ deep rtx stags with 245’s. Amazing car for being barely over stock weight.

      I’m 9k on parts and my own labour on a car I bought for 19k with 26k km’s.

      If you need to complain about the car, build it better with aftermarket. There’s parts everywhere and options for every budget.

      Been boosting for 4 years and not a single problem and no haven’t changed valve springs and don’t plan to. Dealers just grenade these blocks when doing that recall cause they have no clue what they are working on when it comes to boxers.

      • 0 avatar

        This is encouraging. Tell us more about the changes required to get rid of the torque dip.

        • 0 avatar

          When I changed my factory header and put an open flash off the shelf tune on I instantly got 30hp and 25 ft lbs back right at the torque dip. Arguably you would have a similar gain by just changing the overpipe over the front axle to a bigger one and the same tune just as not as big as the header change and tune. Do both and you are doing really well over stock.

          I then wanted more so I sold my header on the ft86forums for close to what I paid and put that money towards remaining 3″ exhaust and the turbo to ensure it could breathe properly.

          Highly recommend a catch can when pushing the fa20 block to 11psi.

    • 0 avatar

      The mid range torque dip has always been the problem with the NA Subaru engine. The turbo along with revised tuning would turn this vehicle into what it should have been from the beginning from the factory.

      • 0 avatar

        This +1 – from the get go this car should have had a turbo. The weight increase would be minimal, power output would go up significantly and the tuning possibilities increased.

        I’ve driven one of these on track and the power response is disappointing. I’ve owned low HP Hondas before that were fun just because you could wind them up. The current 86 engine falls flat… its like over cooked pasta: lumpy and soft.

  • avatar

    Meh, I would rather buy cross bicycle for much less. Greener than Subaru, ZERO emission, much lighter, faster, direct steering feel and of course manual transmission.

  • avatar

    At least in Japan (and possibly in some other countries with similar regs) the overlap issue would probably be different than what one might think; Engine displacement and sometimes body dimensions dictate taxes and insurance significantly in some places so cross-shoppers may take that into consideration when comparing a lower model with a big engine vs a upper model with a small one.

  • avatar

    Like the rest of us I was very excited when these cars were first announced. I (sort of) learned to drive a stick in a GTS-16. I bet the car is great fun, but I wonder how competitive it is compared to a Mustang or Camaro.

  • avatar
    kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh

    260+ ftlbs on those tiny tiny tires is not a great idea. So you will have to buy after market rims go high offset and spend more than a pretty penny on sticky tires. I agree 180 ftlbs is not enough … but and instant shovel full of 260+ fltlbs it not going to do this car any good.

  • avatar

    Would prefer a high revving engine without the torque hit on the bottom end.

    The wife’s departed 2003 Mini Cooper S was fun in that regard, the more you brought the revs up, the more power you made. Add in the supercharger whine and it was addicting. Sure it wasn’t really all that fast but it _felt_ fast… and engaging.

  • avatar

    Well, why not? The current one was/is a dud that was excused only by fervent fanbois. Driven three of them, two manuals and an automatic. The manuals were groaning wheezers but the automatic sort of hid the torque dip and I preferred it.

    Presumably Toyota/Subaru has almost used up its stock of Prius econo tires with which it shod this car, and could mount tires fatter, stickier and better in the rain with the turbo 2.4. That ain’t exactly rocket science.

    If they insist on TNGA suspension architecture, it’ll be a waste of money. Subaru makes these cars and TNGA means nothing to them. Nobody has complained about the car’s handling, so why bother putting C-HR/Corolla/RAV4/Camry underpinnings on it and risk ruining things? The Supra doesn’t bother with TNGA.

    For that matter, just put the WRX engine in the car. It’s the original FA engine. It revs much higher than the FA 2.4t, has a touch less torque fizz, and whatever needs to be done to shoehorn it in underhood applies equally no matter which engine is chosen – the block is the same. Plus there are already umpteen tuners who could make it fly. Bet they’d sell a lot more than 5 or 6 thousand a year if they did that. It’s not a bad looking car and bigger and heavier than the nonsense put about when it was introduced. It weighed a whole 50 lb less than a Civic with four doors and a good 300 lbs more than a Miata.

  • avatar

    I have never thought they needed more power. They needed an engine that wanted to play. The current one really wants to be bolted to a CVT and slotted into an Imprezza. A fine chassis with an engine that is no fun at all.

    You would have to REALLY want that upholstered package shelf in the back, or really hate convertibles to buy one over a MFiata. Just so much less fun to drive.

    The motor in my Fiata makes way less power, is the least linear thing you can buy, but it is entertaining and makes fantastic noises – it feels faster than it is. The Toyobaru manages to feel slower than it is.

    • 0 avatar

      Back seat is nice if you need to carry young kids. I’m guessing the 86 is more accommodating of different body types when you get closer to 6′ too. Otherwise I agree.

  • avatar

    Many of the interweb critics have probably never owned or driven a BRZ. The internet brings out a lot of armchair experts and bench racers. The issue with the BRZ is that people expect it to have Corvette power. It’s not that kind of car. Think of it as a hardtop Miata. Because that’s what it is.

    If you grew up with the classic sports cars of the 60’s and 70’s, MBG, Triumph, Opel GT, Fiat 124, Sunbeam Alpine, first generation RX-7, etc., then you’d see how the BRZ captures the soul and fun of those old-tyme sports cars.

    The BRZ is not a “numbers” car. If you want to brag about 0-60 or quarter mile times at the gym or after work at the bar, it’s not for you. It’s for people who care about sheer driving fun, about getting goose bumps from a car being hard-wired straight into your central nervous system, of feeling your hands directly connected to the road in a way that few other current production new cars can match. In other words, a Miata with a roof and more interior space.

    It would be nice to have another 50-ish hp and 50-ish ft-lb of torque. The 2.4 turbo from the Ascent, or the 2.0 turbo from the WRX, would be perfect. But the BRZ is already so much faster and vastly more capable than any of the 60’s/70’s sports cars ever were. Most of those ‘sports cars’ at the time had around 100 hp. 205 hp was an impossible dream that no one even talked about. A souped-up ‘race’ engine might put out 125-150 hp. 205 hp was unimaginable back then, even with the primitive turbochargers of the day.

    Yes, it doesn’t have a mountain of torque. So what? The Honda S2000, Miata, and Formula 1 cars aren’t known for being able to pull tree stumps out at idle either, and few people complain about them not being fun to drive. In the BRZ, you have to actually know how to use a clutch pedal and shift lever.

    It just feels special to drive. Mazda uses the phrase ‘jinba ittai’, ‘horse and rider as one’, to describe the Miata. The Miata is a great car, but I think it applies just as much to the BRZ. Instead of griping about how ‘underpowered’ the BRZ is, I would think true gearheads would recognize it for what it is – a gift from Subaru and Toyota. For the few thousand a year that they sell, they can’t be making much money on it.

    So, to all those armchair experts out there who say they want a pure, simple, lightweight, naturally aspirated, RWD, manual transmission sports car that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, I suggest, go out and actually drive a BRZ or 86 while you can. Someone at Toyota might decide that there’s not enough of a business case to be made for a manual transmission with the next-generation BRZ/86 (like they did with the Supra). Otherwise, for those that don’t buy a BRZ/86, maybe they should just stop complaining when there aren’t any cars like it around.

    • 0 avatar

      A “jinba ittai” sports car should weigh less than 2800 lbs. People gripe about the power specifically because Toyota/Subaru failed at building “a hardtop Miata” and instead gave the world a slower 370z. Mazda just flat-out offers a better car. It is Solstice/Sky all over again.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      “It’s not that kind of car. Think of it as a hardtop Miata. Because that’s what it is.”

      Lots of seat time in both to include owning multiple Miatas of all but the ND generation. It is fun in its own right, but no…it is not a hardtop Miata by any stretch. Not that that is bad, but it is different.

  • avatar

    I’m skeptical they would use an engine from an SUV in a sports car. Its character is at odds with the goals for the car, the displacement is not tax friendly for markets where that matters, it would make it similar to the Supra, it might bump the price out of the “affordable” range.

    As almost everyone in this thread has noted, it needs an engine that is more fun, not necessarily with more power. The WRX engine would make more sense, but I’m not sure if Subaru has anything that would do the job. Toyota could do better with a small NA inline four; do they have anything that can be longitudinally mounted?

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