You might’ve missed it, but towards the end of June there was a rumor going around that there’d be no second-generation Subaru BRZ. The rumor stemmed from Australian news-site Drive.com.au, who quoted the car’s chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, as saying that Toyota was considering a different partner for the next-generation sports coupe. Their replacement partner would potentially be BMW, if the move went through.
Looking at the stats, Toyota has decent reason to consider adopting a new partner for their GT86/FR-S twins. Autonews reports that since the beginning of 2014, sales of the Scion FR-S and Toyota GT86 have fallen by almost 25%, while sales of the Subaru BRZ rose by a better-than-nothing 6%.
Finally, in an urgent response to the rumor of a Toyota-BMW partnership, Fuji Heavy Industry’s president (FHI owns Subaru), Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, squashed the rumor of Toyota’s move. He said, “If I were to be told that [Toyota switched to BMW], I’d pass out. [The BRZ] is not going to be just one generation.” Emphasis added.
No one can argue that Subaru benefits more from the partnership than Toyota, and we’d wager that even Yoshinaga agrees that they need the help of the world’s largest Japanese automaker to make a next-gen BRZ coupe happen. The volume made possible by the Toyota partnership is just too much to make up. Still, it would be a strange move for Toyota to go through with, especially considering that they own a 20% share in Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries.
No matter whom ends up partnering with whom, there are a few things that we know about the next-gen Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S:
First, it’ll be more powerful. Toyota and Subaru both have heard the pleas from drivers begging for a more powerful engine, and it’s something they plan to include in the next-gen lineup.
Second, it’ll use an alternative powertrain solution, aka. hybrid technology. Tada explains the possibility, saying, “Every 86 enthusiast has been asking question on more power and we are studying now for the answers. Maybe next-generation 86 must have some kind of eco-technology like racing hybrid. We raced at Le Mans with this and that is the reason why we challenge ourselves with this technology.”
In the end, it seems safe to assume that Toyota will remain partnered with the Subaru for the next-generation BRZ/GT86/FR-S sports coupe. Better yet, these preliminary rumors give us confidence that Subaru’s next model will have the power to make full use of its incredible handling, and with a technology suite that keeps the car both modern and fuel-efficient.
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