Subaru Teases STi Variant of BRZ: Optimistic, but Realistic Expectations Follow
Subaru of America has teased something new for the BRZ.
The Toyobaru twins, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are the great survivors of the Great Scion Purge of 2016. These two lightweight, rear-wheel drive sports coupes offer great driving dynamics, with a catch.
The much maligned, Subaru-built FA20 flat-four engine is the Achilles Heel for the twins. On paper, the FA20 sounds pretty reasonable, with 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque and a 7,500RPM redline. A few years ago, those power figures would have been right there with the old Honda K20 engine. For a lightweight sports car weighing 2,700lbs, those power figures seem reasonable enough.
However, the stats say one thing, the real world shows another. It seems that once strapped to a dyno, the twins leave the showroom floor a bit over-advertised with those power figures. A better guess is that in stock form, an 86 or BRZ is making closer to 190 horsepower, and 140 lb-ft of torque, doing some rough math from wheel horsepower to crank horsepower. Additionally, there is a massive dip in torque in the midrange, making that already soft torque figure even softer between 3,500 to 5,500RPM. The aftermarket can remedy this infamous torque dip, but unless you’re willing to drop over $1000 on some headers and an ECU tune that void your warranty, it’s an inescapable character flaw of the car.
The Internet has begged for either turbocharging, or a more stout naturally-aspirated powerplant to “fix” the BRZ and 86, perhaps with an STI badge to make it legit. Subaru has released multiple variants of the BRZ in it’s native Japan, some wearing STI badging. However, the North American market never got so much as a taste of it. Now, that may be changing.
Subaru of America has teased a BRZ STI on their Facebook page. With the simple announcement to “Stay tuned…6/8/17 #STI” all eyes are on Subaru to see what changes they have made to the BRZ.
If I’m being honest: I’m optimistic, but cautious. Subaru seems to repeatedly miss the mark with what enthusiasts want. They have left the WRX STI to linger with the same EJ engine for the better part of 15 years. The BRZ has seen several small changes over it’s 5 year run, but nothing huge. Not until this year, at least, when they introduced a performance package with bigger brakes, different wheels and tires, and a revised suspension setup. Sounds a decent base with which to build upon.
Fingers crossed that the BRZ STI has a well-tuned version of the FA20 to match the rest of the chassis upgrades that they introduced earlier this year. “Stay tuned…” indeed.