We need to talk about the new US-only Subaru BRZ tS. When the original Subaru USA tweet emerged, we dared to dream. We’ve known that they and Toyota have resisted putting more power into the platform, other than in concept form, ever since the car was launched. We’ve known that they’ve always said it most likely won’t happen, but Subaru’s concept teaser got us thinking it just might be possible.
Unlike when we got overexcited about a potential Mazda RX-9, where we should never have considered it commercially possible, let alone likely, this time I think we can hold our heads up and argue the point. I think a more powerful BRZ genuinely could happen, or could have happened, until we learned the new car’s name for sure.
For one thing, more power is what the car’s fans (and haters) have been crying out for since its launch in 2012. Those of us who’ve driven the BRZ and GT86 in anger know what a beautiful chassis balance it has, how responsive it is and how easy it is to enjoy, but more straight-line go is what a lot of people want. Another 50bhp would give it the sort of legs that would bring out even more talent from the finely-honed skeleton. It sounds like a win-win, to us, and for that reason a power upgrade has always been – and will always be – a plausible factory upgrade. Until the model is canned altogether, it will have to stay on the table from our point of view.
When we learned that the special 500 units would be badged ‘tS’, we obviously knew that was it; no extra horses this time. A previous tS car built for the Japanese market had set the bar very clearly at the brakes, aero, wheels and springy bits, and no further. We have to say that it’s a bit disingenuous to slap either of them with a suffix that means ‘tuned by STI,’ when no actual tuning has taken place.
Sure, lighter wheels should mean that it’s faster-responding on the throttle, grippier rubber should increase corner speeds on track, and the aero add-ons will help it stick to the road even better still, but this is a car that deserves more power. It always has. That’s the second reason we feel we were right to let ourselves dream a little.
Raising its maximum corner speeds as part of the tS mods will only exacerbate the feeling that it could do with more straight-line shove. It’s a curious tactic. Any other car bar the MX-5 would have been given at least a token 10bhp for a more focused limited-edition run like this; possibly more. If it was a BMW you’d probably expect at least 30bhp on top. The fact that five years down the line, while hot hatchbacks have been getting faster and faster, this car and its twin have remained the same is odd. Odd enough to suggest that it really is by rigid company mandate.
It might be time to admit defeat. Let’s be honest: if it was going to happen we’d have seen some sign of it by now. More powerful BRZs and GT86s will have to stay limited to the aftermarket tuning scene. If only we could truly let go of our hope of a full-blooded BRZ STI… which we can’t.