Hankies out, chaps. The BRZ successor that Subaru has been merrily previewing in the States is almost certain to remain there. The manufacturer's half of the GT86 coin has always been the more leftfield choice for a variety of reasons, so its re-introduction was hardly inevitable. But it seems that emissions limits, not sales numbers, are the justification for denying the coupe a European launch. Reports suggest that Subaru's overall fleet CO2 number is too high to start selling a boxer-engined petrol model. Shame.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And once again its Toyota holding the torch. PH has it on good authority that Subaru's partner in crime is much more optimistic about its own chances of introducing the GT86's successor in Europe next year. Not least because Toyota has a much larger fleet, healthily stocked with the cushioning effect create by umpteen plug-in hybrids. Word on the PH grapevine suggests a UK-spec GT86 is very likely, what with the heroic critical reception the first car received. There's no official confirmation yet, of course - but Toyota's current enthusiasm for performance models is an additional reason to take heart.
Just imagine a 2021 line-up containing the GR Supra, the just-launched GR Yaris and a new GT86 with GR in the name. It would make for one of the most exciting and enthusiast-worthy line-ups of any mainstream manufacturer. It would be the first time since the nineties that Toyota has a range with more than one performance model, and a future GR86 would slot neatly into it when you consider its likely performance, size and pricing.
Certainly the predicted recipe is promising. A turbocharged four-cylinder motor (probably but not certainly a boxer) is expected, mounted in a compact rear-drive platform thought to be an update on the first-gen one, plus a standard six-speed manual. The design is, as far as we can tell from spy pictures, very much evolutionary, which is no bad thing. Throw in a cabin quality bump and Toyota will likely find itself onto something. We're knotting our hankies at the thought.
Original story: 05.10.2020
Well, there you go. No sooner do we declare something a hero for the ages than a readymade replacement pops up. It's like Ironman and Captain Marvel all over again. Only in this case it's the old BRZ (which Matt got all soppy about in Toyota costume over the weekend) and the new BRZ, officially previewed by Subaru over the same weekend with a suggestive wheel shot.
Now said wheel shot in itself is not that interesting (not least because the car has already been seen wholesale when testing; a fact Subaru artfully acknowledged by taking the whole prototype to 'Subiefest' to show it off to fans behind some net curtains) but the caption accompanying it is: "The all-new 2022 Subaru BRZ - World Premiere coming this Fall".
Which means that you can bet your cotton socks that sometime prior to December 21st (the winter solstice, autumn's traditional shutdown), the manufacturer is going to whip the covers off the production version. Unless the coronavirus causes a much wider spread shutdown, of course - in which case you might lose those socks. But with hope in our hearts, we expect the new coupe to be with us in a matter of weeks.
What exactly will we be getting? Well, the early word is that the next generation BRZ - still produced in partnership with Toyota - isn't going to be quite as knowingly cool as Ironman was. Its bespoke platform has reportedly been switched out for something more mundane and the model is virtually certain to get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine from Subaru's current lineup. But it will still be rear-wheel drive, and certainly it will be more powerful, and - based on Toyota's current love affair with the concept of fun - we're quietly optimistic that it will still be rather good.
Naturally there will be a Toyota-branded version, too - the GR86 this time, to conform with the firm's new badging convention - probably launched around the same time so as to prevent any unfair commercial advantage (although Toyota's vastly larger dealer network typically puts paid to any notion of parity). All additional details will have to wait till then, but we'll admit to being more than a little excited about the prospect. If only because the launch might encourage Matt to stop pining over its predecessor...
Toyota and Subaru really didn't need to pursue this. Despite all the fanfare and the press adulation, the GT86 and BRZ did not sold as well as anyone expected. Theories as to why that might have been in abound, but certainly nobody would have blamed the pair if the small sports car project had been quietly parked and chalked up to experience. Can't win them all, maybe time to focus on an electrified hot hatch etc etc.
So, it's with some considerable enthusiasm that the first spy pictures of the next generation Subaru BRZ can be reported. We've reported on the car before and the likelihood of it receiving a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but this is the first time it's been seen in the camouflaged metal. And, although there's always only so much to be told from a disguised prototype, the signs are good.
The joy of the original GT86 and BRZwas in their nimbleness, bestowed on them by light weight and compact dimensions. This car appears to stay true to that ethos, certainly if the amount of space it's taking up on an American road - and the way it looks alongside a Mustang - are anything to go by. The silhouette is familiar, too, clearly hinting at the layout without being too overt. Once more the bonnet line looks low, with small humps in the wings - so handy for placing either of the outgoing cars - just about visible through the disguise.
Differences also abound, of course, because this new generation will replace cars that first launched on a '12 plate. And that's quite a long time ago. At the front end there are more pronounced, more aggressive vertical intakes located in the bumper, a larger grille (perhaps to aid cooling of the turbo engine) and Supra-esque daytime running lights. The wheels are a recognisable design from models like the GT86 Blue Edition, once more wrapped in Michelin tyres. That said, rather than the hotly contested Primacys that were once standard fit, these would appear to be Pilot Sport 4s if our spectacles are on the right way. Which would be good news.
At the rear is where the BRZ look differs most from what went before, with a redesign of the tail lights and boot to look... well, to look more like other coupes rather than the old cars, from this view. It seems a more purposeful, less dainty detail than before, though with two familiar looking tailpipes at each side; notably they were 86mm in diameter before, so let's hope that nerdy little detail has remained.
With the next GT86 and BRZ not due until the year after next, we can expect plenty more images of disguised cars to emerge over the coming months. Plenty more PH coverage will be forthcoming, too, because - for all their faults - the car world was a better place for having the original GT86 and BRZ around. There's a joy in small, light, front-engined, rear-wheel drive cars that can't be replicated in other configurations, and is brought to the fore when so few exponents of it exist. If Toyota and Subaru can maintain that dynamic zest and vibrancy with this new car, while bringing the rest of the package more in line with broader buyer expectations, then surely it will enjoy some success. Still, that was said about the original - so what do we know?
Image credit | S.Baldauf/S.B.Medien
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