Turbo for Subaru BRZ not on the radar

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Subaru is yet to reveal whether the BRZ coupe will be turbocharged, now that the company has devised a forced-induction engine that might fit.

During the launch of the Forester XT earlier in the week, motoring.com.au asked local Subaru MD Nick Senior whether the manufacturer would offer the BRZ with the same engine, which has its turbocharger located low, at the front. This has freed up more room under the bonnet of the turbo SUV, but new ducting under the bonnet continues to supply air in the necessary volume to the intercooler.

We recently reported that a local firm had found a way to channel more air into the boxer engine of the BRZ – and badge-engineered twin, the Toyota 86. So what's stopping Subaru doing the same with the BRZ – and indeed the WRX that's due next year?

Mr Senior was not in a position to say much about the new WRX or whether it would be powered by a variant of the Forester XT (FA) engine.

"You can draw your own conclusions," he answered, tellingly, when that was put to him. He did confirm the WRX would share its platform with the recently released Impreza, albeit with many more cosmetic changes to distinguish it from the lesser car. Subaru is reluctant to discuss what those changes might be, exactly. Given the bonnet scoop of the Forester XT was dropped because it was redundant and the smoother bonnet aids aerodynamic efficiency, might the same be true of the WRX? The new engine is more efficient – and therefore more powerful – with its combination of direct injection and turbocharging; so a bonnet scoop – signature styling element though it is – might be a thing of the past with the introduction of the next generation WRX. But nobody is saying.

As for the BRZ, even if a turbocharged variant is under development, there's no internal documentation floating around to support that, says Mr Senior.

"There's nothing on a product plan, that I've seen, that suggests there's any turbo, supercharged, convertible or STI – or whatever – of BRZ.

"In Japan there is an STI Enhanced, which is putting spoilers, badges, whatever [on it], but the essence of STI – a pure STI – is that it has gotta have performance improvements. So there's nothing in the pipeline for BRZ."

Mr Senior acknowledged that one engineering hurdle had been overcome in the hypothetical development of an ex-factory turbo variant of the BRZ, but remained dubious about it, either globally or for Australia.

"I think that having two cars that would potentially compete against each other is probably counter-productive. From a Subaru Australia point of view [I see it as a] quite defined performance strategy where you've got BRZ, you move further into WRX; if you want an SUV we've got [Forester] XT... and then Liberty GT and STI. To me, WRX and STI are our performance cars and are the ones that should be the flag [bearers]..."

The local Subaru boss offered one specific reason why the importer would't necessarily bring in a turbo BRZ, even if it became available.

"The other thing with BRZ is that you put a performance engine in there and it's just not about putting that engine in, it's then addressing the suspension, then addressing the brakes – and before you know it, what is a mid-thirties car becomes mid-forties, which then defeats the purpose..."

The analogy closest to Subaru's is that of the Toyota MR2 (SW20), which was available with a turbocharged engine in Japan, but that flagship variant was never imported officially.

"Young people are prepared to buy a coupe for a period of time before they then get married, settle down," Mr Senior continued. "Obviously, at 45 [thousand] or whatever it would need to be, [it would represent] a diminishing opportunity. I think that's where the WRX has been so successful for such a long time; it does offer the versatility of four doors, with that performance.

"There's more volume in WRX and STI than there will ever be in [a turbocharged] BRZ."


Dyno graphs of MRT tuned BRZ/86's.

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Words and image from www.carsales.com.au