AWD and turbos could happen but probably won’t

A report out of Motoring Australia pretty much confirmed that the rebirth of the 86 and BRZ twins is “well under way,” but we’ve learned precious little since that report went live back in March of 2019. With both companies being hit hard by opinions over the lack of turbocharging (Toyota fanboys) and lack of AWD (Subaru fanboys), you would think that the two Japanese allies would answer calls and prayers. But, that’s not going to be the case, and there’s a good reason behind that. The twins are evolving; there’s no doubt about that. Here’s what you can expect from the Japanese brothers when their evolution is complete.

The 2021 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Won’t Be Turbocharged

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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I know a lot of you have been screaming at Toyota and Subaru for the lack of power developed by the 86 and BRZ. 200 horsepower (205 with a manual transmission) doesn’t seem like a lot, and sports cars should just have more, right? At a glance, that logic seems correct, but you’re forgetting one thing – the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ weren’t mean to be fast in a straight line. They were meant to be true driver’s cars, and that means they need to handle exceptionally well. And, after spending some time behind the wheel of both, I have to tell you that engineers delivered one hell of a package when it comes to handling. In fact, you almost forget that you’re driving a car that doesn’t have 300+ horsepower just because of how well they can maneuver bends and recover quickly.

The Toyota 86 weighs up to 2,862 pounds and delivers as much as 205 horsepower. That’s a power-to-weight ratio of 13.9 pounds per pony or 0.07 horsepower per pound.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but they are light, and they are agile. By adding on a turbo (or two) you won’t only add weight, but you’ll throw off the whole dynamic of the car – the suspension, brakes, and steering would all have to be recalibrated, and you would never get the same, pure driving experience that you get from the cars that roll off the production line now.

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) High Resolution Exterior
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And, that’s why the next-gen 86 and BRZ won’t be turbocharged. By turbocharging, the whole purpose of the car changes and that amazing driving and handling dynamic goes away. Toyota and Subaru will continue to deliver a car that handles beyond expectations and is quick. And, to be honest, you can’t beat the experience that you get from either of these sports cars without paying well over the current starting price of around $27,000. Remember, they are designed to be quick in all circumstances, not fast in a straight line.

The 2021 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Won’t Even be Offered With AWD

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) High Resolution Exterior
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All-wheel drive is great, amazing, and provides plenty of traction when you (usually) need it the most. But, the simple fact of the matter is that the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are compact cars, and there’s not really the room to make it happen. That’s not the only reason, though. It comes right back to the handling and overall dynamic of the car itself. You throw in AWD, and you immediate add hundreds of pounds of extra weight. That means the car goes from being quick to slow or you need to up the horsepower, and you can see where it goes from there. Add in the fact that putting more weight up front will greatly affect the car’s handling capabilities and probably not in a good way.

Engineers have designed the 86 and BRZ with an extremely low center of gravity and a specific 53:47 (front:rear) weight distribution.

You throw AWD in the mix, and that goes bye bye.

2017 Subaru BRZ - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Instead, the next-gen Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 will, undoubtedly, carry over with rear-wheel drive. If you still don’t believe me, here’s a little hint about our next point – they will right on a different platform too.

The 2021 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Will Ride on a Toyota Platform

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Word has it that the 2021 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ won’t ride on Subaru’s SGP (Subaru Global Platform.)

The reason behind this falls directly on the purpose of the platform itself.

The platform is flexible as hell and can support nearly any vehicle shape and size, but Subaru only produces AWD cars. The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 are destined to maintain RWD, so Subbie’s new platform has been ruled out with extreme prejudice. The writing on the wall is quite obvious now, and there are only two options – the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 will either ride on the same, aging platform or will move to Toyota’s TNGA platform. That’s the same platform that underpins the Toyota Corolla, Camry, RAV4, and Kluger.

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) High Resolution Exterior
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With the platform sitting below the current 86 and BRZ being so old – the cars themselves are coming up on eight years old – the obvious choice is a move to the TNGA platform. But, what does moving to a Toyota-developed platform mean for drivetrain choices?

The 2021 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Will Still Have a Boxer Flat-Four

2017 Subaru BRZ - Driven High Resolution Drivetrain
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Despite the fact that the 86 and BRZ will most likely switch over to a Toyota Platform, the boxer flat-four works exceptionally well. It’s not just because of Subaru’s reliability, either. See, the magic behind that flat-four is that it’s not very tall and can be mounted relatively low in the car’s chassis. That’s part of how the 86 and BRZ manage to have such a low center of gravity. We already know that neither manufacturer wants to fix something that isn’t broken so, if you’re placing bets, you should place your money on the next-gen BRZ and 86 having a Subaru engine under the bonnet.

The 2021 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Will Be More Powerful But Not By Much

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Despite the amazing driving experience offered by the current 86 and BRZ, people continue to shout that the car needs more power. The 2021 86 and BRZ probably will have more power sent to the rear wheels. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that the 2.0-liter from the WRX would be a good fit, but that’s not going to happen. 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque are just too much for a car of this size and purpose. Putting that much power to the rear wheels would make this thing squirrely at all the wrong times, and that’s not what this car is about.

Instead, expect to see that 2.0-liter Boxer deliver somewhere in the area of 230 horsepower – a sizable increase over the current models but not enough to throw off the driving dynamics.

Sure, the suspension will have to be tuned a little differently, but with this type of power, the BRZ and 86 will handle just as good if not better than the current models do now.

Besides, Toyota has the Supra on its roster now, and going anywhere near that car’s power output at this price range will quite literally lead to cannibalization. That’s not going to happen.

2019 Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ drivetrain specifications
Type, Materials 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, boxer, aluminum alloy block and head
Valve train DOHC 4-valves per cylinder with Dual Variable Valve Timing
Displacement 1998cc
Bore x Stroke 86 x 86 mm
Compression Ratio 12.5:1
Horsepower 205 hp @ 7,000 rpm (SAE NET) (A/T – 200 hp @ 7,000 rpm)
Torque 156 lb-ft @ 6,400 rpm (A/T – 151 lb-ft @ 6,400 rpm)

Toyota’s Gazoo Racing Division Are Playing a Part in the Development of the Next-Gen 86 and BRZ

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) Exterior
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Gazoo Racing might be hard at work with the Toyota Corolla GR hatchback. I’m not talking about the Corolla GR Sport that we saw at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show – I’m talking about a real hot hatch that will rival the Civic Type R, Ford Focus, and Volkswagen Golf GTI. Despite their focus on that model, it’s been said that they are playing a big part in the development of the next-gen BRZ and 86. In fact, Gazoo Racing will probably be responsible for not only the increase in power output but the suspension tuning and re-development of transmissions – both automatic and six-speed manual.

The 2021 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Will Look Largely Different

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) High Resolution Exterior
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The current Toyota 86 and BRZ look damn near the same. Sure, there are little differences here and there, but you can tell they are largely related.

The next-gen models are built via the same partnership, so you know there will be a lot of shared DNA.

This time around, however, we’re told that the two will look quite different. In other words, you’ll be able to tell that these two brothers have two different daddies. The Toyota 86 will probably draw a lot of inspiration from the new 2020 Toyota Supra. It won’t be as extreme, mind you, but it will feature some familiar cues. The Subaru BRZ, on the other hand, will probably feature a look closer to that of what we’ve seen on the Subaru WRX. It won’t have as tall of a nose but expect it to grow more aggressive as well.

2021 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Launch Date

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) High Resolution Exterior
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When the next-gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ will launch is the biggest mystery of all and one that’s hard to even speculate on. We know that the development of both models is “well under way,” but that’s about it. Given the age of the current cars, coming up on 8 years now, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see them debut in 2020 as 2021 models. Where they will debut is a completely different mystery to solve, but the 2020 Chicago Auto Show is a good bet. If that’s the case, they’ll go on sale toward the middle of 2020. Then again, Subaru and Toyota could choose Geneva as their venue, and we’ll see them make their appearance in March of 2019.

Further Reading

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full, driven review of the 2017 Toyota 86.

The Next-Gen Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Are Coming – Here's What Will Change (and What Won't) High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full, driven review of the 2017 Subaru BRZ.

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