Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86: Rebirth of the Light Sportscar
Nobody in those days cared about quattro all-wheel drive, Internet connectivity, satellite radio, a premium sound systems or even keeping the weather out for that matter. What the car pulled from naught to 60 in wasn’t of concern to anybody, as gentlemanly races determined the better car and turned it into a legend.
Somehow, people forgot that every sportscar was supposed to put a smile on your face. Oh sure, all the 300 horsepower or so examples on the road today have their good sides to them, but they are also busy costing you money with long options lists and “performance” packages that only add stickers down the side.
Right now, the lightweight sportscar is nowhere to be found. Mazda’s RX-8 is too dirty and the chassis usually outlives the engine, the Lotus Elise will become a heavier version of itself in order to get some American love and the Miata is soldiering on, but only just.
Speaking of the Miata, do you guys remember how it was rumored to be a Japanese copy of MGs and Triumphs? Was that really such a bad thing, considering it brought rear-wheel drive to the masses across the globe? Of course not!
The Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT 86 are basically taking that idea into the 21st century. But instead of making the budged British sportscar, what they tried to come up with is the budget Porsche. Don’t laugh just yet - this is about engineering, not badge snobbery.
Subaru, who was responsible for most of the engineering work, says that the a Porsche was a benchmark for the BRZ. Thus, a Cayman was even reportedly following the prototype as it was being tested across the world. Obviously, both the Toyota and Subaru models are going to be way off the pace of of a car that’s twice the price, but that's not the point
In the end, this is only a 2+2 sports coupe with a price tag aimed a budged buyers, but consider this: it’s about 200 kilograms lighter (440 lbs) than even the base Cayman 2.9-liter, which means the power difference of 65 horsepower only translates into a 0.2 seconds difference in acceleration times. Even the fact that we can compare these two cars in the slightest is a testament to how much of a game-changer the BRZ and GT 86 will be on the market. Sure, it won’t change corners like a mid-engines car, but the current setup is, much like the Nissan 370Z, also supposed to be safer for a
With this car, Subaru really wanted to show it has the engineering muscle to pull of a good rear-wheel drive car. To do this, they focused on lowering the center of gravity to unprecedented levels. The new 2.0-liter atmospheric boxer engine, for instance, features a shorter intake manifold and a shallower oil pan, both helping them keep it lower to the ground, by as much as 120 mm compared to a regular Impreza.
Subaru’s single goal was, as they themselves put it, “to bring to the world a sports car with superior steering response and driving pleasure that everyone can experience.”
Let’s wrap this up with a bit of styling talk. There is basically very little model differentiation between these two cars, or at least that was my initial impression, since a bumper, rear wing and some slightly smaller exhaust tips set the BRZ and GT 86 apart. But, Subaru knows haw to make a black plastic interior all their own, while Toyota has its own ideas of color combinations and premium trim. As for the exterior, it’s a bit too retro round the back, but you can call it... evocative.
The Toyobaru is a 2+2 dedicated to a Japanese coupe from 1986 (the Corolla GT), and it comes from the maker of the Prius and the company that makes AWD rally cars. But from unlikely ingredients, we could have a very sweet tasting concoction. Never read the performance figures and get behind the wheel of one - that’s the only way to cure your love for standard sprint times. Your tweed-wering grandfather will approve!
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