New Toyota GR86 (left) and Subaru BRZ should be faster
New GR86 sports car is set to launch next summer with 252bhp turbo flat-four; Subaru version to follow
Posted on Instagram by regular scoop source Allcarnews, the Toyota-branded slideshow reveals the sports car is planned to be launched in summer 2021, between an all-new crossover and a ‘CUV’. There’s no clear indication that the Subaru version, the replacement for the BRZ, will make its debut at the same time, but it’s entirely likely.
The post also claims that the GR86 and BRZ will sit on a new platform and produce 252bhp from a forced-induction engine – two facts Autocar revealed earlier this year. This is likely to be the 2.4-litre flat-four unit that Subaru uses in the US market Ascent.
The GT86 and BRZ were launched in 2012, and their future had been in doubt for years because of relatively low sales in a declining market. But both companies have committed to developing a replacement, with the GR86 a key part of Toyota’s growing performance car line-up.
Toyota boss Akio Toyoda is a major proponent of using performance models to boost the brand’s image under the Gazoo Racing division, which also includes Toyota’s various motorsport programmes.
The original GT86 pre-dated the creation of that brand, which started with the GR Supra and will also include the GR Yaris, the first model developed purely by Gazoo Racing. The next GT86 is set to be rebranded to bring it in line with that nomenclature.
The next-gen sports car will feature some substantial changes from the existing model. While the original was built on a Subaru platform, the firm’s current architectures are not suited to rear-drive cars, so Autocar understands the new model is set to be built on Toyota’s TNGA platform.
With Toyota taking the lead on the platform side, it is up to Subaru to once again provide the propulsion. As we previously reported (and new reports appear to confirm) the existing 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit will be switched for the turbocharged 2.4-litre boxer powerplant currently used in the Ascent, Legacy and Outback models.
That engine produces 252bhp in the Ascent, a figure that would represent a significant upgrade on the outgoing model’s output. Forced induction would also provide a substantial torque upgrade over the old car, too, providing a draw for those who weren’t satisfied with the performance of the outgoing GT86 and BRZ. Both brands may wish to retain the drivability and character of a naturally aspirated unit, but this needs to be balanced with what buyers are demanding – and that appears to be the on-tap grunt of a turbocharged unit.
Toyota and Subaru will also want to improve the aesthetic appeal of the new car, both inside and out. The old GT86 and BRZ were widely criticised for their low-rent cabin, so expect improvements in technology, material usage and fit and finish. Whether or not the model becomes more of a true four-seater in order to really help it stand up against more practical rivals remains to be seen.
Such changes – particularly the power upgrade – would be likely to see the price of both cars increase. However, both brands will be conscious of the close proximity of more premium models, such as the Audi TT and BMW Z4. Toyota won’t want to tread on the toes of its own Supra, either, particularly in Japan where a four-cylinder version of the reborn sports car is offered.
The second-generation BRZ and GT86 will build on expanding links between Subaru and Toyota. As well as the sports car, the two firms are teaming up to develop a new EV platform and electric SUV.
Toyota weighs up sports hybrids
Toyota is considering hybrid versions of future performance car models – but only once the weight of the systems are reduced.
The Japanese firm is in the process of electrifying all of its models, with a heavy focus on hybrid systems. But the new GR Yaris will only be offered with a three-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, despite 80% of Yaris sales expected to be hybrid.
Naohiko Sato, chief engineer of the GR Yaris, said that while a hybrid system would fit in the car and was under evaluation, Toyota didn’t believe it was currently suitable for performance cars.
“Right now, if we chose an electrified powertrain for a sports car, it would be heavier,” said Sato. “We decided it’s not the right way to go right now. Maybe when the technology gets better and we have new technology allowing lighter powertrains, it could be good.
The Gazoo Racing range
GR Yaris – arriving in late 2020: Four-wheel-drive, 247bhp-plus hot hatch brings World Rally Championship learnings to Yaris range.
GR Supra – on sale now: Famed two-seat grand tourer has been reborn through partnership with BMW.
GR86 – arriving in 2021: Second generation of rear-wheel-drive coupé will be brought in line with new GR branding.