Subaru BRZ

February 25, 2012

Toybaru: Joint-effort coupe pits Toyota against Subaru. August Release in NZ

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Written by: Goran Has
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Toybaru: Joint effort coupe pits Toyota against Subaru. August Release in NZ

NZ chief executive Alistair Davis says the GT will be launched here in August. NZ managing director Wallis Dumper says the will be here in the “third or fourth” quarter of this year.

Both men are talking about the rear-drive sports coupe and Subaru developed together, a product of ‘s 17 per cent share in Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries.

Davis drove the GT 86 in last year. “It’s a wonderful car,” he said. Dumper drove the BRZ in , too. “It’s a great car,” he said.

Subaru built both the GT 86 and BRZ but its offices worldwide have reportedly been banned from advertising the fact.

The Toyota-Subaru link will take a further back seat when both cars hit the ground running later in the year. Toyota NZ will swing its marketing muscle behind the GT 86 as it goes all-out to wrap up the leading brand for this year and, therefore, 25 straight years as No1.

Subaru is understood to be going for the highest-spec BRZ to lure owners of European cars. It wants to offer something different to Toyota.

Dumper decided to include the BRZ in his line-up after earlier doubts about it being rear-drive, a dynamic departure from Subaru’s all-wheel-drive mission statement. “We wouldn’t go away from all-wheel-drive unless we could guarantee a cool car – and the BRZ is indeed that,” he said.

The BRZ and GT 86 were designed to have one of the lowest centres of gravity. The engine in the BRZ was positioned even lower than other Subaru models. The engine and the driver’s hip point in the GT 86 are the lowest of any current Toyota production model.

The BRZ gets pillarless doors, giving away that a soft-top will come later in the production cycle. Subaru has said so: “Everyone who sees this coupe wants a convertible. If demand is enough, they can have it,” said a product planning executive.

But there is unlikely to be a turbocharged version, although Dumper won’t rule it out. A Subaru engineer at the Tokyo show said a booster would be “difficult because of the [engine] packaging”.

The joint development began in 2008 at a meeting between product chiefs of Toyota, Subaru and Daihatsu. Toyota wanted a sports coupe to inject excitement back into its product range and Subaru was looking at adding to its go-fast Impreza-based line-up.

The chiefs agreed: Toyota would manage the product planning and styling of the proposed coupe – codenamed 086A – while Subaru would be responsible for the engineering and production.

The major differences between the Toyota and Subaru variants are in the plastic bits – the bumpers, grille and side-skirts – and the lights.

Subaru supplied the flat-four engine in both cars but Toyota equipped it with its own direct-injection system. The engine is identical, right down to the joint Toyota-Subaru engine cover in both models. It delivers 147kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm at 6600rpm and drives the rear via either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential.

The BRZ’s dimensions are also identical to the GT 86, at 4240mm long, 1775mm wide and 1285mm high, with all main metal panels – including the lightweight aluminium bonnet – a match. The BRZ’s kerbweight is 1220kg, against 1180kg for the GT 86. Both coupes have a 53:47 front-to-rear weight distribution.

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