Neither car really caught fire in the U.S. market.
Japanese sources say that the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are on their way out. Japanese Nostalgic Car quotes automotive magazine Best Car as stating that Toyota and Subaru have parted ways on development of the two cars, meaning the possibility of a next-generation model is all but dead. Particularly with the arrival of a less powerful, four-cylinder Supra in Japan, there’s little need for the 86 to remain in the market.
The news isn’t terribly surprising, frankly. The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are the slowest-selling models in each brand’s lineup. Despite the car’s promise of a fun, affordable rear-wheel drive experience, few actually took the companies up on the offer. This rumor also makes sense given neither car has seen any radical updates in their seven years on the market.
While Toyota may be keen to axe the 86 for the Supra — a sports car name with some real clout — the same isn’t necessarily true for the Subaru. While JNC is saying the BRZ may die with the 86, there are recent, conflicting reports on the issue. CarBuzz, for instance, reported that Subaru was keen on keeping the BRZ in production. According to Subaru North America’s head of communications Ron Kiino, “The car has been great for the brand, certainly one of the halo vehicles from a performance perspective.” He went further at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show: “As far as giving customers a Subaru feel, a lightweight sports car, the boxer engine is a big part of that. For our brand we think the BRZ makes sense and we feel there’s a demand.”
A new MR2?
So, the future of the 86 and BRZ are in doubt at the moment. However, if Toyota does kill the 86, it would leave room for a low-power Supra in the market. After all, if you have one front engine, rear-wheel drive car with around 200 horsepower, it hardly makes sense to introduce a second.
Subaru and Toyota may end up taking different roads here, but what about another iconic Toyota sports car? Other rumors suggest Toyota may be making the way for the return of the mid-engined MR2. That could still be in joint development with Subaru, although whether that’s actually going to happen is a bit foggier to predict right now. Subaru has allegedly been working on a mid-engined sports car of its own, so it may come to pass that Subaru will get a new sports car, while Toyota may revive the MR2. As is the way with cars moving forward these days, a new MR2 could be electrified.
Check out the Scion FR-S (aka Toyota 86) in a head-to-head against another Japanese rear-wheel drive car below: