A REAL-DEAL STI version of the Subaru BRZ seems to now be a matter of not ‘if’ but ‘when’ with the Japanese car maker following up spy shots of a mysterious disguised car that emerged last week with an official post on its social media pages.
The single image shows the same STI-branded carbon-fibre spoiler that was spotted riding on the boot of a black prototype outside Subaru’s North American headquarters, which also wore a poorly concealed STI boot badge and a number of other aesthetic tweaks.
With the confirmation from the carmaker that the vehicle will transition into something meaningful, the big question is whether this STI is the powered-up special that so many fans of the two-seater coupe have been asking for, or just another agonising selection of ornamental parts.
Little information accompanied the Twitter post to suggest how deep the STI changes go, other than an apparent reveal date: “Stay tuned…6/8/17. #STI,” it reads.
On the one hand, it is possible the car is another light chassis and aesthetics overhaul that we have been periodically subjected to over the model’s life, but the point in the BRZ’s lifecycle adds fuel to the fire that this could be the first significantly tuned version.
Sportscars generally have a longer lifecycle when compared with more regular passenger models and with approximately two to three years remaining in the typical 10-year span, now would be a reasonable time to introduce a full-fat STI variant if the company is ever going to make the move.
Sure, there are many enthusiasts of the BRZ and mechanically-identical Toyota 86 who agree with its maker that the cars are just right with 147kW and 205Nm, but there are plenty more customers who have been demanding a bit more mumbo since it launched in 2012.
Is the staunch resistance to respond to the voice of the consumer a sign of arrogance from Toyota and Subaru or have they been saving the best for last?
If a more powerful version is on the horizon it is almost certain Australia’s power-hungry punters would be offered the BRZ STI but, while Subaru Australia had nothing to add to the social media release, it said another special edition or kit package was not out of the question.
“We’ve done a small number of specials on BRZ over the last five years and you can’t rule out there may be some accessory and cosmetic tweaks along the way, but at this stage not aware of anything mechanical,” said national corporate affairs manager David Rowley.
Since fans started calling for a more powerful version of the BRZ and 86, its makers have explained the decision to stick with a modest output as a combination of engineering limitations and the need to preserve the car as a purist’s machine.
“That’s the appeal of the car from the customer’s perspective,” said Rowley. “It’s very much a purist’s car, it harks back to something that perhaps isn’t so prevalent these days.”
While a number of onlookers continue to ask for more grunt, the car continues to attract a strong audience, particularly in Australia where it was given a modest mid-life update late last year.
“Year to date to the end of April [BRZ] was up nearly 42 per cent. Last month alone it was up 87.9 per cent. It’s been a very pleasant surprise – the ongoing interest and success of the car”, explained Rowley.
If the STI does turn out to be yet another wheels, brakes and spoiler job, a more potent BRZ or 86 will continue to exist exclusively in the aftermarket arena, where demand has spawned everything from mighty Nissan GT-R and Ferrari-powered one-offs to a plethora of forced-induction cars.