The most eagerly awaited since the partnership between Subaru and Toyota was forged in 2006, a development process creating a pair of entry-level sports cars evoked attention of both brand customers. Since October of 2009, the concept Toyota FT-86 made a strong indication for what Japanese motoring fans can expect from the anticipated sport vehicle. Presented as the BRZ STI Concept at locales including the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, the production Subaru sports car was finally introduced for this year’s Tokyo Motor Show.
Debuting at the same time show that the Toyota GT-86 (to be known as the Scion FR-S in North American), the Subaru BRZ two-door, 2+2 sports car is a bold presentation for the Japanese auto badge that had resisted this personal performance vehicle category for many years.
At a distance, the ability to distract the exterior differences between the Toyota and Subaru vehicles will only come easy to an astute automotive observer. Appearing very close to the concept version of the BRZ, the production sport car’s mature Subaru details are detected on the lower front fascia that includes a hexagon grille and distinctive fog light housings. Detectable ahead of the cabin doors are chrome, stylized side louvers. Just 170 inches in total length, the Subaru BRZ is 4 inches shorter than a Scion tC but 2.8 inches longer than the Nissan 370Z sports car. Weighing less than 2,700 pounds, the low, sleek look for the Subaru BRZ is intentional to foster a fun to drive, sporty feel. A set of 17-inch aluminum wheels are wrapped with the rubber of competent performance tires.
Compared to the vehicle that Americans will know as the Scion FR-S, the Subaru’s interior is likely going to be a slightly more upscale look. Driver-oriented, the BRZ’s tachometer with digital speedometer is planted in the center of the gauge cluster. Combined with a compact-sized, auto racing style steering wheel, the Subaru BRZ interior experience is also provoked with comfortable sport seating in the front.
Powered by a horizontally-opposed 2-liter boxer engine, the traditional Subaru engine design is reinforced by Toyota’s expertise in technology that includes direct injection. Cleverly positioned to optimize the lowest center of gravity possible, 200 horsepower and 151 pounds-feet of torque will be pumping from the BRZ’s boxer powerplant. Not incredibly peppy in torque development, the Subaru BRZ’s engine be companioned with a pair of transmissions insuring firm and smooth delivery. Certain to entice the sport compact crowd will be testing the performance limits of the Subaru BRZ is the six-speed manual gearbox designed for short stroke shifting. For drivers preferring a more relaxed experience behind the wheel, the BRZ will become the first North American release of a 6-speed automatic transmission on a Subaru. Selecting ‘M’ mode on the automatic will allow manual shifting of the Subaru BRZ sports car through the automatic transmission.
With introduction to the marketplace planned in spring of 2012, there are already rumoured plans relating to the two-door Subaru offering. Plans of adding Impreza WRX-style turbocharged power to the BRZ is believed to be on the tables for the next model year. Horsepower estimates for a turbocharged Subaru BRZ is around the 300 range. Prior to the Subaru BRZ sports car’s official presentation in Tokyo, some speculation had also insisted on all-wheel drive as a possibility. Thought to be a way of differentiating the Subaru version apart from the Toyota sports car, the production BRZ will arrive only as a rear-wheel drive.
For Subaru, the BRZ marks the brand’s first homecoming to the true sport car market since the discontinuation of the SVX in 1997. Accompanied by a drop in customer demand in its final year of production, the fact Subaru ended up producing their halo vehicle at a financial loss left the appearance of a sports coupe successor understandably off the books for the Japanese auto company.
Perhaps learning a lesson from the SVX, the Subaru BRZ joint construction with Toyota Motor Corporation assured financial violability retuning to the sports car marketplace. Estimated to have a starting cost below $30,000, the Subaru BRZ will be seen as a competitive entrant to a going sector of small sports coupes that includes the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Mazda MX-5 and MINI Coupe.
Information and photo source: Subaru of America