Although responsible for the flat-four engine and, allegedly, most if not all of the chassis and suspension componentry beneath the so-called “Toyobaru” (FT-86) coupe, Subaru has been something of a straggler when it comes to revealing specifics on its end of the upcoming joint-venture sports coupe with Toyota. In contrast to Toyota’s trio of FT-86-badged concepts, plus a fourth bearing the Scion FR-S badge, Subaru’s sole reveal was the clear-bodied and ponderously-named Rear-Wheel Drive Sports Car Technology Concept shown at the end of this article. Now comes word, via an official Fuji Heavy Industries press release that Subaru has chosen to name its version the BRZ, which stands for “Boxer engine”, “Rear-wheel drive” and “Zenith”.
While the use of a trio of initials or letters may seem odd to those accustomed to Subaru’s recent word names (Impreza, Legacy, et al), longtime fans of the marque may recall that their two previous dedicated sports coupes relied mostly on initials for their monikers: XT and SVX (although both used the Alcyone name in Japan, and XT was sold as the Subaru Vortex in Australia and New Zealand). The BRZ initials strike some as uncomfortably close to Honda’s hybrid sports coupe, the CR-Z, while others are reminded of Lincoln’s current model-naming protocol. BRZ also vaguely recalls the Plymouth Breeze, the cheapest of Chrysler’s so-called “cloud cars” from the late 1990s.
On Tuesday 13 September at 9:30 AM Central European Time (which translates into 3:30 AM Eastern Time and 12:30 AM Pacific Time), the Frankfurt Motor Show press conferences will see Subaru unveil its second and presumably final RWD sports car prototype, the BRZ Prologue “technology concept”. This implies yet another concept heavy on the technical underpinnings, and that’s just fine by us. With its flat-four engine reportedly moved back by as much as 100mm (almost 4″) and down an undetermined amount versus other Subaru applications for optimum balance and handling, anything that further clues us in on what to expect at the final production reveal of both Subaru and Toyota versions at December’s Tokyo Motor Show is more than welcome.
Speaking of clues, Subaru’s press release is accompanied by a teaser video of the BRZ Prologue, which looks much like the original Rear-Wheel Drive Sports Car Technology Concept. What little of the styling is revealed remains distinct from the Toyota/Scion concepts and shows a nose and front bumper shape reminiscent of the 3rd-generation (3G) Mitsubishi Eclipse. Yet, how much or how little visual differentation there will be between the Toyota/Scion and Subaru versions remains an open question. The concepts themselves hint at distinct looks for the two companies, while comparisons between test prototypes spotted at the Nürburgring with Toyota’s DAU 0684 license plates and in California with Subaru distributor plates show them to look almost identical save for possible minor lighting, wheel, spoiler and trim differences, just like the original Mitsubishi Eclipse / Eagle Talon / Plymouth Laser “Diamond-Star triplets”. Or is Subaru using Toyota-styled test mules for expediency?