Subaru Confirms Next-Gen BRZ, Could Be Plug-In Hybrid
Subaru boss Yasuyuki Yoshinaga has confirmed that the BRZ sports coupe will get a second-generation model as part of its continued collaboration with partner Toyota. More importantly, there’s a chance that the next-gen BRZ could be packaged as a plug-in hybrid model. Yoshinaga declined to disclose which among Subaru’s models, including the BRZ, would get the hybrid drivetrain, although he did say that the company is actively pursuing the introduction of its first plug-in hybrid model by 2018.
Unfortunately for customers in Japan, Subaru isn’t going to sell this plug-in hybrid model in its home country. This is despite the fact that hybrids make up 18 percent of the Japan’s light-vehicle market. As strange as that strategy may sound, Subaru will instead direct the sales of its future plug-in hybrid model in markets where its required by regulations, including the US.
As far as the BRZ is concerned, Yoshinaga gave no specific timetable on when the new model will be launched. The good news is that both Subaru and Toyota have already agreed to proceed with the development of a next-generation model. Should it come with a hybrid system, I at least expect the company to use the system as a complement to a modified version of the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine that the current version has under its hood. With those two systems in place, it’s reasonable to expect the next-gen BRZ to come with a higher power output than the current model, which produces 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque.
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Why it matters
While I’m happy to see that the Subaru BRZ, Toyota GT-86, and Scion FR-S will receive second generation versions, I’m not too sure about how I’ll feel if these cars are fitted with hybrid systems. I mean I get why the two companies may think it’s a good idea. The cars become immediately more appealing to a growing clientele of owners, and just as important, these cars will be more efficient on the road.
Here’s my issue. I think that going the hybrid route defeats the purpose on why Subaru and Toyota decided to build these cars in the first place. The BRZ, the GT86 and FR-S were developed as affordable sports cars. I repeat: sports cars. Developing a hybrid system sounds like a good idea in the evolution of these models, but I think that it would be better for Subaru and Toyota to keep these sports cars as they are. They can modify the current fuel-combustion engines to make them more powerful and more efficient than the current version. That seems like a more prudent approach to take if Subaru and Toyota are really serious about giving these sports cars the next-gem treatment that customers will appreciate.
I’m not saying that a hybrid system isn’t going to fly because I’m sure that a lot of customers will welcome it. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to alter the images these cars currently have that Subaru and Toyota themselves carefully cultivated.
I may have less of an issue with it if Subaru is going to offer a hybrid version as an option to complement the gasoline-powered version. But, the company hasn’t made any specific announcements on that regard, so this kind of speculation will likely persist until an announcement is made. In that case, sign me up on the “keep the BRZ away from hybrids” camp.
Read our full review on the Subaru BRZ here.
Source: Automotive News