2018 Subaru BRZ Performance Pack Tested on Track!

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Has the GT86’s ante finally been upped with the new Performance Pack?

2018 is quickly approaching, that means we are now five years into the life-cycle of the GT86. It certainly has gone through a lot of changes in that period of time. Though, mostly in name only. You can call it the GT86, FT86, Subaru BRZ, or Toyota 86, also formerly known as the Scion FR-S. If that isn’t JDM enough for you, you can call it by the ZN6 chassis code is has been bestowed. Actually, since this is a Subaru BRZ, it’s actually a ZC6. They sure aren’t making this easy on us.

The names, chassis codes and forum fan allegiances these cars carry are all similar, but with small deviations, changes that show progress, or simply the passing of time. The rest of the 86, beyond the badge on the trunk, has seen similar small deviations, and changes over its five year run. Toyota and Subaru jointly promise that each year the 86 is gently improved upon in some small way. The Japanese have a term for this, and it’s called kaizen (改善). It’s a term to describe to continuous change, or continual small improvements, and is a common philosophy in Japanese engineering.


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Since its inception in 2013, the engineers behind the Toyobaru have followed the philosophy of kaizen. Each year, we would be told that small changes to the shocks, springs, or sway bars were made to improve the car. Simply put, most consumers’ butt dynos were not well-calibrated enough to notice the small year-by-year changes. Sales trended downward after the initial 2013 hype. American consumers are sold on horsepower, and 0-60 times. The Subaru-sourced FA20 boxer engine that powers the 86, with it’s 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, simply was not a stoplight drag racing hero. With that figure not changing, consumers began to look elsewhere for sports car fun.

Scionlife.com 2018 Subaru BRZ Performance Package Toyota GT86 86 Review Track Test

However, 2017 brought about the biggest leap in kaizen for the 86

Subaru and Toyota heard their customers pleas for more power and better acceleration, and they responded! Of course, they responded with a five (5) horsepower bump. Yes, a whole five horsepower, and five lb-ft of torque increase. The 86 was never going to explode on the market, driven by some sort of kamikaze (divine wind) of horsepower. Remember, kaizen.

However, that’s not all that got upgraded. While the FA20 may still be a softie with 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of twisting force, the acceleration should improve thanks to the jump from a 4.1:1 final drive unit to a 4.3 rear end gear. That makes all six gears in the 6-speed manual transmission just a bit shorter overall, improving acceleration.

All manual transmission-equipped Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ models get the modest power bump and differential upgrade for 2017. The big news is the also-new-for-2017 Performance Package option that you can get with the Subaru BRZ. This is important, so listen up: a $1195 option, the performance pack adds track-tuned Sachs dampers, wider 17×7.5″ wheels and, crucially, Brembo big brake upgrades, front and rear. That’s a lot of bang for not much buck, but is it any good?

Continue reading about the Subaru BRZ Performance Pack on the next page.

Jake Stumph is a lifelong car enthusiast and racer, who has operated as the content editor for Internet Brands Automotive since 2015. He runs Corvette Forum, 6SpeedOnline, Honda-tech, and LS1tech, among other Internet Brands Automotive websites. His work has been featured by several other prominent automotive outlets, including Jalopnik and Autobytel.

He obtained a bachelor's degree in Political Science at the Ohio State University in 2013, then pivoted from covering politics and policy to writing about his automotive adventures, something that, he says, is a lot more fun. Since that time, he has established connections with most of the world's major automakers, as well as other key brands in the automotive industry.

He enjoys track days, drifting, and autocross, at least, when his cars are running right, which is uncommon. You can check out what he's up to on his YouTube channel, as well as his Jake Stumph Racing Instagram account. He can be reached via email at [email protected]

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