Subarota Named at Last: FT-86 Concept is now Subaru BRZ

By Jason Davis | August 23, 2011
Toyobaru. Subarota. FT-86. And now: BRZ. Today, Subaru announced that its version of the FT-86 will officially be called BRZ, for "Boxer engine, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith," and the new car will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The acronym "embodies the ultimate passion" of the traditional sports car, and ends speculation that Subaru might launch the car with all-wheel drive. For more than two years, Toyota and Subaru have strung fans and press along with sparse news of the secretive collaboration, code-named FT-86, an historic nod to Toyota's popular 1986 Corolla.
That car, made famous recently by drifting fans of a Japanese TV show, is the soulful inspiration for the FT-86. But where the Frankenstein combination of using a Subaru engine to power a Corolla came from, aside from the wildest imaginations of race fans, is unknown. Strangely, Toyota, who in 2008 bought a 16.5 percent share of Subaru, made the dream a reality. Since the concept announcement, we've known that Toyota was charged with developing the new front-engine, rear-wheel drive vehicle, and that power would come from a Subaru "boxer" engine, possibly the 300-hp turbocharged Impreza STi powerplant. But little was confirmed. Spy shots conspicuously show the concept with and without hood scoops; normally on Subaru engines, the turbo system's intercooler sits atop the engine, directly under the scoop. Designed to keep a turbocharged engine's intake air cool for better power and efficiency, the intercooler is a vital part of the turbo system. While it's possible that the concept photos show a non-turbo engine, it's also possible that Toyota designed the long, low hood and engine bay to place the turbo system's intercooler in the nose of the car, rather than above the engine. The newest engine picture hints that this is the case, as a careful look at the engine shows that while the intercooler may not be in Subaru's traditional location, specific turbo parts are. We'll know for sure in September at Frankfurt, and production begins in early 2012. Source: Subaru (Pictures are of Toyota FT-86 concept)