Since the Toyobaru triplets — BRZ, FR-S , and GT86 — debuted for the 2013 model year, the relationship between Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries, the company that owns Subaru and that Toyota owns a minority share of, has been stressed. Toyota seems ready to move the GT86 forward to a new level of the sport car realm, while Subaru has essentially sat back and said "we build it, so you can’t make any changes unless we allow it." Now a new report from Drive claims that Toyota may take its ball and go home, leaving Suby with no choice but to discontinue the BRZ.
This report stems from a conversation with Toyota chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, who said that the next-generation 86 could be the brainchild of the BMW -Toyota team up that is already under way. This would not only lead to the almost certain demise of the BRZ, but it would also result in a far more extreme GT86 and FR-S — if the latter is part of the 86 program in the next generation.
Click past the jump to read more about this possible elimination and what it means.
Why It Matters
This is certainly an odd turn of events in a project that brought to life one of the most critically acclaimed, badge-swapping trios since the Diamond Star — Chrysler and Mitsubishi — partnership rolled out the Eagle Talon TSi, Plymouth Laser RS, and Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX. I knew that the relationship was walking on eggshells, but I never expected it to go all Renault-Caterham on us. But it could be for the best.
This collective shoving of Subaru out the back door would also likely increase the build quality of the GT86 and FR-S. We all know that Subaru isn’t the best at fit and finish work, and it is painfully obvious in some of the complaints about the triplets having rattles, squeaks, and ill-fitting parts. BMW , on the other hand, is notorious for attention to detail and perfect fit and finish. Additionally, with BMW in the mix, Toyota would likely have no problems when asking to put out a more powerful model.
Tada also mentioned that the current trend is downsizing engines and adding turbochargers, which is something Toyota is considering for the next-gen 86 — yet another reason to rid itself of the dead weight. He also went so far as to say that the next 86 may include ..."some kind of eco technology like racing hybrid."
By the looks of things, Toyota has all good stuff ahead of it if it cuts Subaru out of the deal. Subaru, on the other hand, will simply learn a valuable lesson that sometimes you have to be willing to change in order to make a partnership work. This will also make it difficult for Suby to ever get itself into another partnership like this, as not many automakers want to work with a stubborn mule like Subaru.
The Subaru BRZ is the automaker’s take in its partnership with Toyota. The BRZ, like its Toyota and Scion brethren, continues to receive rave reviews for its respectable quickness and outstanding agility. It is no speed demon to 60 mph, as some reviewers have timed it as slow as 7-plus seconds to highway speeds, but it is okay for the class it is in. Add to that a decent base price of $25,595, and the BRZ is a slam dunk.
The downside to this whole deal is that in the last three years, there have been no notable changes to the trio, particularly the BRZ, leaving Toyota to hunt for a better partner.