Finally, finally, finally! Subaru just announced they will be rolling out a limited edition, performance version of the BRZ sports coupe for 2018. Like many of you, I have been waiting impatiently for Subaru to let the STI gurus have a go at their everso enjoyable sports coupe. And although this is not the full-blown fire-breather of our dreams, at least it’s a start.
The BRZ is a great little car. In a lot of ways, it’s sort of like the Miata coupe that Mazda never made. It’s light, handles well, is real-wheel drive, inexpensive and, sadly, not nearly as powerful as it could be. You, me, them, all of us gearheads know it would be so easy to drop a bigger mill under that low hood. And Subaru already has them, just waiting on the shelf. Yes, we all understand the exigencies of price points for the given buyer demographic, and insurance burdens, but c’mon Subaru (we seemed to have collectively begged) Do. The. Right. Thing. and make a higher performance version of the BRZ.
Officially it’s called the 2018 BRZ tS (tuned by STI). So it’s not even an official STI deal, it’s just Subie’s in-house skunk works breathed on it here and there. But what they have done is rather nice, even if it’s not Earth-shakingly significant. The BRZ tS adds STI-tuned front and rear SACHS dampers (shocks) and coil springs along with an STI flexible V-brace in the engine compartment to stiffen things up. New draw stiffeners are added to the chassis and sub-frame to improve steering response. You’d figure the torsional rigidity is now on balance with the main wing spar of a Boeing 747.
Subaru has also upped the wheel size for the first time. The BRZ tS comes equipped with lightweight, 18-inch wheels sporting 215/40 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires for mollusk-like grip and quicker turn-ins. The brakes are Brembo rotors clamped by 4-piston front calipers and 2-piston rear calipers for better stopping power, fade resistance, and pedal feel.
The exterior is said to be more aggressive thanks to an exclusive STI carbon fiber rear spoiler. The rear wing is manually adjustable so you can “fine-tune rear downforce for track driving.” Yeah, have fun playing with that, but just remember aerodynamics is a Science with a capital “S” and your hospital stay can be Long with a capital “L” and Expensive with a capital “E.” Proceed with caution. Anyway, the 2018 BRZ tS also has front, rear, and even side underspoilers for better airflow and increased traction and stability. The 2018 BRZ tS is available in three colors: WR Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Silica, and Crystal White Pearl. You will get the World Rally Blue.
Like it’s limited edition sibling, the WRX STI Type RA, the Subaru BRZ tS is embellished with an exclusive Cherry Blossom Red accent around the front grille and rear bumper cover. The official BRZ tS badge in chrome and red is on the front grille and rear hatch. The exterior mirrors (which can fold), the roof-mounted shark fin antenna, and the BRZ and Subaru badging are all finished in black. Sadly, the fog lights have been removed and replaced with “unique fog light covers.” More light is always better, but Subie has a habit of taking away fog and driving lights to differentiate their more special versions.
The cockpit is highlighted by black leather and Alcantara upholstery, with contrasting red stitching and accents all the way through the interior; steering wheel, door and dash panels, knee pads, shifter, emergency brake boot, and visor over the gauge cluster. The front seats even have red leather bolsters and the seatbacks are embroidered with the tS logo. The front seat belts are red and the rearview mirror is frameless. There is a standard 4.2-inch LCD multi-function display positioned next to the tach that shows vehicle performance data: things like lateral Gs, accelerator pedal position, braking force, steering angle, oil and coolant temperature, battery voltage, and an integrated stop watch for recording lap times. I like that bit!
Pricing & Availability
The 2018 hot rod Subaru BRZ tS (tuned by STI) will be limited to 500 units and ring out at $33,495, not prohibitively expensive. Expect to see the BRZ tS at Subaru retailers this spring.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.