2021 Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ prototype spied again in clearer detail

  • Thursday 1st January 1970

Toyota’s second-generation entry-level sports car aims higher with a Mustang alongside for benchmarking

The clearest pictures yet of what will go on to become the new Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins have surfaced, revealing more of the new car’s finer details.

While earlier images suggested the new car’s evolving styling could potentially be built on a re-skinned version of the current 86, these latest images clear up some additional details.

Immediately obvious, despite the swirling camouflage wrap, are the new ‘crab claw’ tail lights.

While the trend isn’t exclusive to either Subaru or Toyota the C-shaped rear light trend is seen on the newest version of the Yaris, Corolla hatch, Forester and Outback. There is more than a little Aston Martin in this look, too.

As before, there is also every chance the new BRZ and 86 could share rear styling to keep costs low.

In a departure from the current car, the rear number plate moves from the boot lid into the rear bumper. The result of the new design sees the boot opening made wider, but with a higher loading lip.

At the top of the windscreen Subaru's EyeSight stereo-camera system system is visible, suggesting a solid improvement to safety tech. While not every feature is a certainty for the BRZ or 86, the current EyeSight suite could potentially see technologies like adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, autonomous emergency braking, lead vehicle start alert, lane sway and lane departure warning, and lane keep assist added to the sports cars' equipment lists.

Up front, the two brands are likely to yet again tread their own paths. While sheetmetal like the front guards and bonnet pressing probably won't differ, the headlights and bumpers should convey a more individual brand identity for each marque.

While it’s uncertain if this particular car is from team Toyota or team Subaru (or a combination of parts mashed together for validation purposes) the main front air intake, wider at the bottom than it is at the top, points to a continuation of the current 86 bumper design.

The flanking semi-split side intakes also echo design themes seen on Toyota’s GR-division performance cars.

As for what lies under the bonnet, that’s still open to interpretation. Current thinking is split between a non-turbo version of Subaru’s FA24 2.4-litre flat four engine with suggested 162kW/240Nm outputs, or potentially a low-output version of the same engine in turbo guise.

Currently the lowest output version of the turbo 2.4 is rated at 194kW/375Nm, without any changes that would still give the more expensive Toyota Supra and its 250kW/500Nm outputs some breathing room.

Interestingly, the current Ford Mustang makes a cameo appearance alongside the prototype, possibly for benchmarking purposes. While in Australia the Mustang is positioned above the 86 in terms of price, in the USA market the two are nearly neck-and-neck. Based on performance metrics, the Mustang's 2.3-litre turbo four cylinder is rated to 236kW and 448Nm whereas the 86 and BRZ run a more tepid 147kW/205Nm (auto) or 152kw/212Nm (manual).

Immediately obvious from the images is the difference in tyre stock. While the current 86 rolls on either 16 or 17-inch wheels shod in 205mm or 215mm wide tyres, the new car appears to have been upsized to the 18-inch wheels from the GR Yaris.

Tyre specifications aren’t confirmed, but using the Yaris’s 225/40 R18 sizing as a guide suggests the 86 still has a way to go to catch up to the 255/40 R19 rubber worn by the Mustang High Performance four-cylinder in Australia, with an obvious difference in width shown above.

It’s possible Toyota could also be aiming to maintain a philosophical difference between the 86 and Supra, with one configured to drift while the other is better suited to grip.

In profile, the spy pics clear up further stylistic details surrounding the new 86. While it is no doubt similar to the outgoing car the new vehicle shows a different belt line kick radius and the trailing edge of the front door rises earlier.

At the front of the door, the old 86 matches the leading edge of the metal to the glass in a single cut line. On the new car it appears the metal has been pushed further forward with the base of the A-pillar sitting over the door aperture.

The old horizontal vent insert in the front guard, one of the pieces used to differentiate the styling of the Toyota and Subaru versions, has also gone missing. Instead a new vertical vent sits behind the front wheel, with a shape, panel cutlines, and a flow into the sill panel that calls to mind the Lexus RC F.

Despite these changes, proportions are remarkably similar between old and new, hinting that rather than an all-new model the Toyota and Subaru twins could be a heavy rework of the current platform, much like Toyota’s recent overhaul of the Lexus IS range. The 86 wouldn't be the only sports car to extend its run with a major overhaul, with the new Nissan 400Z also shaping-up as a re-development of the current 370Z chassis architecture.

A higher front guard and bonnet line also open the door to speculation as what might be going on underneath. Could the extra height be there to accommodate the top-mount intercooler of a turbocharged FA24 engine, perhaps?

Official timing for the introduction of the new Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ is still closely guarded at this stage, though with production of the current generation having reportedly ended, an official reveal either late in 2020 or early 2021looks increasingly likely.