Subaru and Toyota announce 10th Anniversary sports coupes
BY PETER BARNWELL
SPECIAL edition 10th anniversary models of Subaru’s BRZ and Toyota’s 86 twins under the skin sports coupes will be available soon offering buyers a degree of exclusivity over the mainstream versions of both cars.
The Toyota is called the GR86 10th Anniversary Edition while the Subaru is called the 10th Anniversary Special Edition S BRZ.
It’s hard to believe that the dynamic duo has been around for a decade and it’s still a challenge for the untrained eye to pick them apart.
The sporty coupe has moved to generation 2 with the BRZ already available… if you can find one, and the GR86 as it’s now called, due next month. The Toyota was originally scheduled for local launch midway through last year.
According to Toyota, “The launch of the GR86 was always planned for this time, so that it could benefit from some additional development time, which was used to make it a slightly more focused vehicle on track.”
Funny thing is Toyota has already announced a 10 Anniversary GR86 even though the model itself isn’t available here yet. Go figure…
Still, all’s fair in love and war as the saying goes and Toyota would be keen to secure prospective GR86 customers who might otherwise be tempted to the Sooby fold.
But if it’s a power advantage you want then the GR86 wins with its boxer four-cylinder engine delivering 176kW and 250Nm, 3kW/1Nm more than the Subaru and 21kW/38Nm more than the outgoing GT86.
Not a big advantage in real terms and possibly negated by gearing differences but great for ‘bench racing’ bragging rights down the pub.
Toyota lends an extra level of exclusivity to the 10 Anniversary Edition by making only 86 units that will be available “soon after the new-generation GR86 sports car is launched locally in September,” says Toyota Australia.
The car will feature a new orange paint colour and two-tone black and orange upholstery, while shoulder pads on the door trims will add a touch of exclusivity inside.
Though both cars will still share their chassis and sheet metal, engines, and the bulk of their interior furniture, just like the first-generation BRZ and 86 did, it’s understood that under-the-skin differences will be far more significant this time around.
While the precise nature of these differences is not yet known, word is the suspension of the GR86 is comparatively firmer, with less body roll and a tauter feel to make it feel sharper on road and track.
The BRZ, meanwhile, is set up for country-road touring rather than occasional track days.
There are also some detail changes to components like suspension arms, while geometry settings, steering calibration and throttle mapping may also differ between the two cars.
For Subaru’s part, their 10th Anniversary Special Edition S BRZ and will be available only in Subaru’s signature WR Blue, and like the Toyota will feature ‘unique’ exterior and interior styling elements including blue and black interior tones and a commemorative 10th Anniversary embossed logo inside the cabin.
The second-gen BRZ is based on a new platform (shared with the GR86) but retains the elements that made its predecessor such a popular choice for sporty driving – a light, compact package with a naturally-aspirated engine that drives the rear wheels via a limited-slip diff.
The BRZ range comprises a pair of derivatives – Coupe and Coupe S, both of which are available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission (with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles).
Now based on Subaru’s modular global platform, new BRZ’s (and GR86) wheelbase and overall length has increased by 5mm and 25mm respectively, while its height has been reduced by 15mm.
The newcomer’s body offers about 60 per cent more front lateral bending rigidity and 50 per cent more torsional stiffness than before and the rear track has notably been widened by 10mm.
The new BRZ also offers a lot more standard specification than before, yet it weighs only 3kg and 8kg more (the manual and automatic versions, respectively) than its predecessor, because aluminium has been used extensively for the bonnet, front guards and roof.
Under the bonnet of both Toyota and Subaru coupes is a 2.4-litre, naturally aspirated, flat four-cylinder petrol engine with direct and port injection replacing the 2.0-litre unit of the previous model. It’s good for 174kW at 7000rpm and 250Nm at 3700rpm in the BRZ, sent to the rear wheels via a mechanical limited-slip differential.
All BRZ derivatives feature self-levelling and steering-responsive LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres. An STI styling pack (with front- and rear bumper, guard, side-skirt and boot lid garnishes) is optional.
Further BRZ standard equipment includes smart-key access with push-button ignition, a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel and gear/transmission lever, dual-zone climate control, a 7.0-inch, customisable digital instrument cluster and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and includes DAB+ digital radio and built-in satellite navigation.
Subaru Australia managing director, Blair Read, said the new generation BRZ has received strong interest from enthusiasts across the country since its arrival, particularly the price and rear wheel drive feel.
Toyota Australia vice president of sales, marketing and franchise operations, Sean Hanley said; “When the new generation GR86 launches in September, it will bring what Toyota Australia says are a raft of dynamic improvements including a more powerful engine, optimised handling and a driver-focused cockpit.”
“Bursting on the scene in 2012, Subaru BRZ offered, and continues to offer, an attainable rear-wheel drive pure sports car that delivers engaging handling and a fun drive,” said Subaru’s Blair Read.
“Ten years ago, we launched the original Toyota 86 in Australia, creating a following for those wanting a sports car that blends reliable performance and great value,” said Sean Hanley.
Both cars will get a full suite of active and passive safety equipment including blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
Camera assisted driver assist technology includes pre-collision braking system with brake assist and throttle management, adaptive cruise control, lead-vehicle start alert, lane departure warning and lane-sway warning functions.
No pricing is available for the GR86 in any variant at this point, but the BRZ starts from $40,290.