Subaru BRZ: big brother's little brother
Want your GT 86 to stand out (a bit) from the crowd? Buy the Subaru version instead then
which will cost £24,995), but Subaru is predicting annual sales 'in the hundreds'.
That's shy of the 4,000-odd Toyota is aiming for, but it will go a long way to restore the reputation of Subaru has a performance brand in the UK.
At the moment the firm is headed more off road than on track. Top seller last year was the Forester SUV with 1041 registered, followed by the Legacy-based Outback jacked-up estate on 700 sales. By contrast the WRX STI saloon sold just 188.
The standard Impreza isn't on sale any more, which essentially kills the badge in the UK (the WRX doesn't wear that name any more). The company says it is in talks about whether bring in the new model, but that won't happen until 2013.
So all hopes are pinned on the BRZ, which has gone on sale in Japan at the start price of 2.06m yen (£16,779). That's for the RA which, like the Toyota GT 86 RC, strips out extras like air conditioning, stereo, fog lamps, alloys and even the plastic engine cover to offer tuners a blank canvas to work with. That also means 16-inch steel wheel as standard, however, unlike Toyota, Subaru does generously pre-paint the bumpers front and rear.
Subaru wouldn't confirm rumours that the BRZ is likely to come with tauter suspension settings than the GT 86, but did keep hopes alive of a hotter model in the future. "I wouldn't rule out a high performance version of the car" said a spokesman for the UK importer.
So at launch the choice as whether you go Toyota or Subaru depends pretty much on what you think of the badge. "We are convinced that the combination of heritage, brand image and the strength of the dealer network a lot of people will prefer to buy a Subaru over a Toyota," said the spokesman.
The fact that its four-cylinder engine in flat 'boxer' configuration is a Subaru development might sway the decision for some but it's clear the BRZ is going to be a rarer sight on British roads than its Toyota brother.