The Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 recently got makeovers that finally gave them more power and the spirited driving dynamics they needed. New rumors point to the Toyota half of the duo getting even more power in the future via the GR Corolla’s turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder.
When the 2022 Subaru BRZ debuted last year, our general impression was that the second-generation coupe didn’t appear all that different from the original. While excellent news for those seeking a well-balanced, lightweight sports car that can be driven aggressively on public roads or serve as a solid foundation for any number of track-focused build projects, the manufacturer decided against throwing out curveballs. The car’s purpose remains unchanged, it’s just been remade into a better version of itself. But the BRZ’s fraternal twin, the Toyota GR 86, had a few more weeks in development with President Akio Toyoda rumored to have been pushing for modifications that would help differentiate the two models — much like the automaker did with the similarly related Toyota Supra and BMW Z4.
While limited to the same hardware as the Subaru, Toyota is claiming the new GR 86 makes a tad more horsepower and is hinting it could be the more serious sporting machine. Both of those claims remain unverified and, if the duo is anything like their first-generation, deciding which is the faster 2+2 car will have almost everything to do with which rubber is on the wheels and who’s been placed into the driver’s seat. But the pilot will have an alleged advantage of 4 horsepower in the 86, forcing the BRZ to bring in Subaru Tecnica International (STI) aboard to offer some enhancements of its own.
The recipe stays pretty much the same, though the dish stands to see some new ingredients.
Following years of tepid sales and speculation about the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ twins’ market viability, word eventually came that neither automaker was willing to cede this niche segment. A successor was a go. Now, physical proof of the upcoming next-generation cars has appeared on social media.
While Toyota and Subaru are officially developing a new generation of the 86/BRZ, neither model from the current generation looks long for this world. The Toyobaru twins’ placement as an affordable sports car meant volumes were never going to be stellar but the last few years have been particularly unkind. Inside the United States (the duo’s strongest market), the Toyota half of the pair hasn’t managed to break 10,000 deliveries since 2016 — something the BRZ has never achieved. Last year, Toyota’s coupe was sitting at just 3,398 units while the Subaru only sold 2,334.
But the final nail in their coffin could be the new special edition that’s coming out of Europe. Subaru is introducing the conclusive-sounding “Final Edition” of the BRZ for Germany.
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.
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.
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.
January was peppered with claims that the Subaru BRZ And Toyota 86 aren’t long for this world. Rumors, which began spreading last year, stated the models weren’t selling well enough for either brand to rationalize continued sales, and those rumblings came to a head during the North American International Auto Show. There, seemingly every outlet asked engineers and executives what’s to become of them.
This week, outlets began reporting that Japanese automotive tabloid Best Car is preparing an article for its upcoming February issue explaining that Subaru and Toyota have “deviated on their development policies” and plan to break their collaboration on the Toyobaru twins.
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 defunct Scion brand isn’t done making headlines, it seems. The rear-drive FR-S 2+2 sport coupe is among a number of vehicles — mainly Subarus — recalled over valve springs that could break, leading to serious engine damage.
In total, some 400,000 vehicles built between 2012 and 2013 are included in the recall; among them, Subaru BRZs, Foresters, and Imprezas. The Japanese-market Toyota 86 and North American-market Scion FR-S, twins of the BRZ, feature the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
Outside of the addition of extra horsepower, it doesn’t seem like anything’s capable of turning the Subaru BRZ and its Toyota 86 twin into sales powerhouses. Even the power hypothesis is debatable.
Instead, the two rear-drive 2+2s soldier on into 2019 with minor equipment changes, plus the addition of an annoyingly-named Series.Gray variant for the BRZ. Like past special editions, there’s a strict limit on the number available. That’s not a problem, as there seems to be a strict limit on the number of BRZ or 86 models anyone’s willing to buy.
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