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Subaru BRZ No More?

OBSERVED: Amid talk of demise for Subaru's RWD outlier, Toyota looks to move forward - possibly with BMW

Text By , Photography by Staff, Subaru

When word surrounding a partnership between Toyota and Subaru emerged in the early 2010s, a team-up that ultimately resulted in the much-hyped 86 / Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ platform, enthusiasts swooned. A smattering of hardcore heads in America bellyached the version they were getting would rock a Scion badge rather than a Toyota one - a compromise only a fanatic would quibble over - but the fact remained legitimate effort from the highest levels was being applied toward creating a fun, affordable, rear-wheel-drive sports car to fit into a segment that was in dire need of some shaking up.

After roughly a solid year plus of enthusiast fervor for the car, it would appear the honeymoon may now be over. For those who know where to look and how to read between the lines, the web can reveal quite a bit of insider info; whether that info is accurate, mere speculation, or complete BS is often hard to decipher. Case in point: a number of online sources have recently reported sales in the US have been dismal and potentially catastrophic, for both the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. What's verifiable via OEM-issued data is that neither the FR-S nor BRZ has moved a massive number of models on US shores (in fact, the BRZ happens to be Subaru's poorest selling offering). We also know that those numbers were fully expected by the manufacturers.

With the latest rumors suggesting that the Subaru BRZ could be discontinued and not see a second generation, many are questioning those pesky sales or a lack thereof. However, a new theory has arisen, based on Toyota leaning on an already established developmental partnership for the assist.

It's no secret Toyota and BMW have been in cahoots on a joint venture to produce a supercar, but recent movement suggests the Toyota-BMW team may also work together on an updated version of the 86 / Scion FR-S. Based on what's unfolded thus far, the new team's choice of power plant could certainly knock Subaru out of the picture entirely, boxer mill and all. This would of course lead to the Toyota-Subaru relationship officially ending (though only as far as the car goes; Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru, is still in a partial partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation, which owns 16.5 percent of FHI).

Now if you're a fan of the platform, and not emotionally attached to the Subaru BRZ, you probably don't care too much about the co-parenting done by the two automakers because you're far more concerned with what will be under the hood of the next gen. 86 / Scion FR-S. When it was first issued, most cried foul due to the fact turbo power was nowhere to be found boosting the 2.0-liter flat-4. Still others wanted the turbo as well all-wheel-drive (a staple Subaru feature), and an exceptionally low sticker price. What they got was a moderately powered engine that, although wasn't mind blowing on paper, seemed more than capable, with a free-spirited chassis that's been described by many as the most fun you can have within its respective price range.

Tetsuya Tada, Toyota chief engineer on the 86 / Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ project, recently hinted at the possibility of turbocharging a small displacement engine, something many automakers have embraced lately, but he also stated that he'd like to see naturally aspirated power under the next gen's hood. Obviously that means things are still up in the air, but with so many rumors now circulating and hints being dropped left and right, it seems like it's only a matter of time before the announcement is made the "Toyobaru" union is no more. Watch this space for more; if any of the conjecture is true, we're sure it's only the beginning of this chapter.

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2 comments
mrpunka1589
mrpunka1589

There should of been more engine options to enthusiasts. 

georgemimaki1
georgemimaki1

I hope Toyota and BMW partner up, it would be interesting to see what they come up with design wise.

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