Article by Anthony Alaniz. Images from Automedia.
Boom! The rumor mill is at it again, this time with rumors swirling around that the updated Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ will ditch rear-wheel drive exclusivity for a potentially hotter—and more expensive⎯version.
The rumors come from World Car Fans, which is taking a report from Best Car magazine in Japan. Our source is mum on the whole thing (read: we have no source!), but we have seen the spy shots of the car captured at the Nürburgring. A mid-cycle refresh wouldn’t warrant such extreme testing, unless there were some significant powertrain upgrades.
The recent report indicates that the next version of the car will receive all-wheel drive. While this may have some enthusiasts excited, it really dismantles the car’s ethos of being a driver’s car. The GT86/FR-S/BRZ was positioned to be a fun-to-drive car that could be drifted without getting the driver into much trouble. Add the fact that the rumors continue speculating that the turbocharged, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the 2015 Subaru WRX STI, will find its way between the Japanese car’s front fenders. That engine currently makes 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. That takes it well above the Miata it was designed to compete against.
In the GT86 car, the engine will only produce 300 horsepower, sending that power through an eight-speed automatic gearbox before going to both axles. Whether these rumors are true… we don’t know. One of the chief complaints about the GT86/FR-S/BRZ was that it was underpowered, but we don’t think this is what fans of the car had in mind when they asked for more power. Other changes for the car could possibly include the use of lightweight materials like carbon fiber and a large, fixed rear wing. Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada had already let slip that the updated vehicle will receive both a new intake and exhaust system that is being developed with the help of Gazoo Racing.
While these are just rumors at the moment, the future of the GT86 and its corporate siblings does allude to more variations and power increases. If anything, the car needs a little bit more power. Adding a turbo along with all-wheel drive just seems like too much. What makes the car so much fun now is that it is easily modifiable. New suspension hardware and engine parts can be bought and installed with ease. Add the complexities of an all-wheel drive system, and you could have quite the headache on your hand, not to mention the aftermarket industry having to start all over on the updated platform.