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Toyota GR86 delay will become competitive advantage

While Subaru BRZ is sold out, next-gen GR86 delay won’t matter: Toyota Australia

10 Dec 2021

ALTHOUGH Subaru has already sold all 500 of its initial allocation of next-gen BRZ sports coupes – before deliveries have even commenced – Toyota will have to sit on the sidelines until the second half of 2022 before it gets a new hot two-door of its own to sell: The closely related GR86.

 

But according to Toyota Australia, that is all part of the plan – and the delay should result in a vehicle with its own distinct flavour, which is seen as critical for giving it enough separation to its Subaru twin and will allow both vehicles to coexist without treading on each other’s toes.

 

“The launch of this vehicle was always planned for this time, so that the Toyota GR86 could benefit from some additional development time, which was used to make it a slightly more focused vehicle on track,” a Toyota spokesperson said. 

 

“We believe this difference will ensure that a good number of our interested customers will wait to experience the difference for themselves, before deciding which vehicle (GR86 or BRZ) is best suited to their needs.”

 

Though both cars will still share their sheetmetal, engines, and the bulk of their interior furniture, just like the first-generation BRZ and 86 did, the under-the-skin differences will be far more significant this time around. 

 

While the precise nature of these differences is not yet known, GoAuto understands that the suspension of the GR86 is comparatively firmer, with less body roll and a tauter feel to make it feel sharper on road and track. The BRZ, meanwhile, is more single-minded, being set up for more sedate country-road touring rather than occasional track days. 

 

There are also some detail changes to components like suspension arms, while geometry settings, steering calibration and throttle mapping may also differ between the two cars.

 

However, while the chassis tuning may be different, both cars use the same naturally aspirated 2.4-litre flat four. Supplied by Subaru, it generates 173kW and 250Nm, and takes power to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic.

 

The delay between the BRZ’s global reveal (which occurred roughly this time last year) and the GR86’s rollout were reportedly spurred by Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda’s disapproval of how similar his company’s car felt to its Subaru counterpart.

 

Mr Toyoda, an avid race car driver himself, requested his engineering staff give the GR86 a livelier feel, and one that would feel more at home on a circuit than the BRZ.

 

However, the second-generation 86 is now on sale in Japan and the USA, with an imminent arrival in the European market. So why does Australia have to wait until the second half of next year?

 

Toyota Australia is not saying, nor are they giving any hints as to its price point, but one explanation could be that the GR86’s arrival has been deliberately staggered out to give Subaru the opportunity to sell its initial allocation of BRZs before Toyota muscles in – a mutually beneficial arrangement that would allow both companies to take turns at the entry-level coupe market without impinging on one another. 

 

Why would such a strategy be necessary? One potential answer could be that the opening price for the GR86 is planned to be significantly higher than that of its predecessor.

 

While the first-generation 86 launched with a bargain sub-$30K retail sticker, Toyota’s new two-door could be positioned uncomfortably close to the BRZ’s $38,990 starting price. 

 

We will have to wait until the second half of 2022 to find out whether that will be the case.


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