Last fall, Subaru unveiled the new version of the BRZ sports car. As with the first-generation model, the BRZ was co-developed with Toyota — but the Toyota-branded 86, which may be renamed GR86, remains nowhere to be found. Now, according to a report from the Japanese site Best Car Web, there may be a good reason for that.
The report says Toyota is delaying the GR86 until next year, due to a dictate from Toyota president Akio Toyoda that the 86 should be further differentiated in performance terms from the BRZ. (Toyoda has notably raced at prestigious events under pseudonyms, and his tenure has overseen developments like the new Supra and the awesome, rally-inspired GR Yaris hot hatch we won't get in America; if he thinks the new Toyobaru needs to be a certain way, we trust his gut.)
How Toyota will differentiate the GR86 from the BRZ is unclear for now. The cars are expected to adhere to the same formula: a naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive and a manual transmission. If Toyota wanted to add some racier features like four-wheel-steering, well, Subaru did that with the BRZ, too. And we suspect Toyota won't go crazy and laden the car with sound insulation to make it bearable to drive long distances. (Best Car Web says the differences should come down to gearing and engine tuning, but we'll have to wait and see if that bears out.)
Don't be too hard on Toyota over the delay; after all, the new GR86 is just one of the many plates the brand has spinning at the moment. Toyota is overhauling its aging off-roaders with a new truck platform, and the company left things open-ended about whether and how the Land Cruiser will return to America. That's not to mention what could be game-changing electric vehicle technology. And don't forget Toyota still owes Americans a GR-branded hot hatch.