Subaru BRZ Concept STI: Toy Story II

Subaru BRZ Concept STI at Los Angeles Auto Show

Subaru’s new BRZ sports car is previewed at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Los Angeles – In a rollout that rivals that of the first Dodge Viper, the folks at Subaru continue to tease. Subaru’s first installment detailing their upcoming 2+2 GT provided few details beyond the drivertrain. Later, the engineered platform was clothed in a cutaway wrapper, conveying some sense of proportion but little in the way of actual detail. At this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show Subaru finally showed some skin, but within the guise of a show concept rather than an actual production vehicle. The production car, we’re told, must wait for the Tokyo Motor Show in December. That, of course, is then – and this is now. And ‘now’ finds a host of admirers at Subaru’s show stand in Los Angeles studying an attractive concept while anticipating a credible entry in the ‘affordable sports car’ segment.

In a cooperative agreement with its corporate partner, Toyota, Subaru took responsibility for the platform engineering on a 2+2, front-engined, rear-wheel drive GT, while Toyota – whose version will be sold in the U.S. as a Scion – took responsibility for the sheetmetal. Given that this is Subaru, the powertrain is a 2.0 liter DOHC flat four, rumored to generate 200 horsepower. Connected to a 6-speed manual, and propelling roughly 2,500 pounds, the Subaru – dubbed BRZ – promises responsive performance in roughly the same context as Mazda’s Miata. In short, one won’t be overwhelmed by its abilities in a straight line but should be seduced by its balanced approach to over-the-road (or track day) capability.

The concept shown in Los Angeles looks to be very close to what we will see in Subaru showrooms next spring. With the engine mounted low in the unibody chassis and with ample setback (making it a front mid-engined platform), the Subaru is obviously rear-wheel drive. The nose is penetrating and the hoodline low, while a relatively conservative greenhouse should preserve both outward visibility and interior room. The BRZ sits back on its chassis, and while sheetmetal details differ and the Subie’s spec will be decidedly down-market, the overall proportions of Subaru’s effort aren’t that different from Jaguar’s C-X16. And Jaguar’s concept, if approved for production, would echo the British carmaker’s XK-E of fifty years ago.

For Subaru, this will be quite a departure. A company known in the U.S. for all-wheel drive sedans, wagons and crossovers, a 2+2 GT is singularly focused in a way few Subarus have been. That will place the new BRZ on Subaru showrooms in an almost halo capacity, not unlike the role played by Nissan’s 370Z or Chevrolet’s Corvette.

Although pricing won’t be announced until later in the launch cycle, a Subaru rep in Los Angeles was adamant that the production version would be affordable. Speculation in the enthusiast media suggests a mid-$20s price point. And if that holds true, this – and its Scion stablemate – will signal a rebirth of affordable sports cars, a category seemingly in reverse since the demise of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.