It’s an argument that has gone on for far too long. People have been criticising the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ ever since they were announced. Not enough power, too little torque; you know the drill.
The obvious solution was always forced induction. Loads more torque and more top-end, all in one fell swoop. A small, fast-spooling turbo or screw-type supercharger like Cosworth’s could transform it. We can’t disagree with that; we never have and we probably never will.
Toyota has staunchly refused to oblige, partly because of balance concerns, and partly because it stands by the product it designed in the first place. That product is an old-school, lightweight(ish), flickable and talented sports car in the vein of a hard-top MX-5.
No one can argue the formula is a bad one. Take something that drives a lot like the one-million-plus-selling Mazda, stick a hard top on it for extra rigidity and then add more power. It’s pure genius… in theory. This is a car that feeds your hunger for a driving partner; a machine that moulds itself to you like a futuristic suit of armour. It’s an incarnation of the old school, perfected.
That in itself is reason enough, to me, to keep it exactly the way it is. It quickly gets under your skin and becomes a living, breathing link to the kind of cars that helped create people like us in the first place. You can also get it with all the gadgets you could need, if that’s your thing. The Toyobaru BRZ86 stands alone in its genre; it’s precious exactly as it is.
Now let’s think about what it was built for. It was built so you could make it exactly what you wanted. A drift machine, maybe, or a track toy. A custom show king, even, or a fast road missile for weekend blasts. It’s a lightly sketched-over piece of quality canvas, yours to colour in as you see fit. Fitting a turbo from the factory would add pointless cost for those who want to fettle it their own way.
Look again at the MX-5. It’s celebrated for breathing without a turbo; many of us still prefer it to the turbo’d Abarth 124 Spider, despite that car’s relative tonne of extra torque. That doesn’t stop us hankering after a well-executed snail conversion for the ND car, but the fact that there’s the choice at all is the best thing. The GT86 gives you choice.
Price is the final point I’ll make. The GT86 isn’t cheap. It was, once, with the superb low-spec Primo edition priced below £22,500 in 2015. But almost nobody bought that one; less than 40 came to the UK and at least one of those was a press car. Just one overpriced example is for sale online right now. In 2018 you’re looking at an entry retail price the thick end of £27,000. If it were turbocharged, you could probably make that £30,000. That’s Audi TT money.
If it sells in low volumes today (just 6405 and counting in the UK since 2012), a £30,000+ blown one would surely be a disaster in showrooms, bringing down the executioner’s axe all the sooner. That’s in no one’s interests.
I say the GT86 is just perfect. It’s brilliant as standard, but it’s also the ideal foundation for so much more. It’s a tree trunk with a hundred branches of possibilities. It’s like the puppy your parents got you as a child: you can grow with it, play with it, every day strengthening that bond between you. You’ll miss it like hell when it’s gone.