The Future of the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S

More Power Is Imminent. Here's the When and How


  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Picture

    2013 Subaru BRZ Picture

    The tweaks are obvious and transformational: lower, bigger wheels and tires and more power. The BRZ STI is a no-brainer. | March 30, 2012

11 Photos

Toyota and Subaru admit their FR-S/BRZ twins are designed to be cranked up even louder by aftermarket maestros. Now is the perfect time for us to get the tuning forks out to see what the scene might sound like shortly after the pair hit the showrooms in a few months. Following, then, is a speculative look — based on educated guesses and company histories — at where Subaru, Scion and the aftermarket will take these cars.

Subaru BRZ STI
You don't have to be Einstein to know that an STI version of the BRZ is coming. Subaru, in fact, first revealed its version of the joint-venture rear-drive coupe at last year's Los Angeles auto show as an STI Concept, and has already developed a suite of bolt-on bits for when the base car moves into showrooms in a few months.

Our vision of an STI-tuned Subaru BRZ is a no-brainer raid of all the good gear from the WRX. In the handling department, it'd feature lightweight 19-inch alloys — with 8.5s on the front and 9.5s on the rear — wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sports with inverted Bilsteins, stiffer springs and antiroll bars and bigger four-piston/twin-piston brakes. Simple.

That is until you get to the engine. It might seem easy to bolt the twin-scroll turbocharger from the JDM-spec WRX STI onto the BRZ's 2.0-liter boxer, but the BRZ uses an all-new engine that utilizes both direct and port injection. Even so, a low-boost setup should lift power to around 295 horsepower and almost double its torque output to 280 pound-feet.

As for the visuals, our STI would add a bit more aggression to the BRZ, with new bumpers, wider skirts, a rear spoiler, pink STI badges and a hood scoop to feed the top-mounted intercooler.

Subaru has pretty much created our BRZ STI already with a gamut of official STI parts that'll soon be available in Japan for the base car. It released details of the so-called "prototype" bits and pieces at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January and displayed them on a second showcar. The parts list included a carbon-fiber hood and roof, a front chin splitter, a rear trunk lid spoiler, a sports muffler, front strut brace, lowering springs, Bilstein dampers, Brembo brakes and 18-inch alloys.

TRD FR-S
Toyota has already admitted that success for the Scion FR-S won't be determined by its conventional means of profit and sales numbers. This car has been developed purely to inject fun and a sense of youth back into the Toyota brand via Scion. But we know it won't stop with a run-of-the-mill model and, like Subaru, it has already committed to plenty of official aftermarket parts from Toyota Racing Development (TRD).

Beyond that, there are rumblings that there will be a full-fledged high-performance version directly from TRD in 2013. Also, it makes sense that because the Scion FR-S is built alongside the BRZ at Subaru's Gunma plant in central Japan, it will share the STI's mechanical package. Still, there's talk that Toyota is considering supercharging the 2.0-liter boxer for its high-performance version. Considering TRD has a long and successful association with blowers in the U.S. (remember the supercharged tC) and given today's efficient and compact water-to-air intercooler designs, boosting the FR-S's bottom end to a significant extent would be a fairly straightforward affair.

Seven pounds of boost would increase the FR-S's output to around 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, giving it a power-to-weight ratio on par with far more costly hardware. As for the rest of the package, it'd be similar to the STI BRZ, with lighter, wider wheels, stickier rubber, larger brakes and a stiffer suspension. And our visual makeover is intended to make it look like a baby Lexus LFA, using a unique front bumper (with 'Ring-style winglets) and faux vents in the rear arches.

Whiteline Panda
Following in the tracks of the original AE86, there's bound to be a retro tuning revival.

The name says it all, really, and Toyota has not shied away from the spirit of the original Hachi Roku with the new 86. It's inevitable that there'll be many Toyota die-hards jumping on the bandwagon to create retro-infused homages to the original AE86 Sprinter Trueno. It's almost certain the majority of them will take styling inspiration from the most famous Hachi of all, Takumi Fujiwara's "Panda" AE86 from the iconic Japanese anime series, Initial D.

Our tofu-delivering touge rocket has been developed with Aussie suspension gurus Whiteline, to focus primarily on handling improvements rather than power upgrades. One of the key elements in the development of the 86 was its low center of gravity, and our Panda improves on that even further using lowered, stiffer coil-overs on each corner, with Whiteline altering the roll centers and geometry both front and rear to reduce bump steer and make it more predictable at the limit — if that's possible.

It's also got a 20mm adjustable antiroll bar at the rear, while the front is 24mm to give it more responsive turn-in. There's an anti-lift caster kit, a camber correction kit and underbody chassis brace at the rear, and an adjustable strut tower brace across the front to make it stiffer. And to ensure it all feels as precise as a Swiss watch, it's fitted with Nolathane bushings in the suspension, steering rack, gearbox and differential mounts.

Mechanically we'd keep the 2.0-liter boxer in normally aspirated form but help it breathe better with a cold-air intake, free-flow cats, an exhaust and an ECU tune that'd liberate a bit more bottom-end torque and vocal talent. We'd also get rid of some weight by removing the rear seats, replacing the fronts with carbon buckets and fitting it with a carbon roof and hood.

Team Orange Drift
If anything, the Toyobaru twins were built to drift. In stock form, they do it quite easily but imagine what they'd be like as wide-bodied, 600-hp, tire-eating monsters in the Formula D series? We did, and used the famous Team Orange outfit — which first bucked the trend of Silvias and RX-7s to win Japan's 2006 D1 championship in a rear-drive STI with team leader Nobushige Kumakubo as inspiration.

So our D1-spec Subaru BRZ follows essentially the same formula as Team Orange's ground-breaking STI, which means there's not much of the original car left. The body has been acid-dipped to reduce weight and then seam-welded for extra strength. The complex roll cage adds rigidity, while all the body panels have been replaced by carbon fiber, extended on each corner to house the wide-track undercarriage and help to keep its weight down to just 2,100 pounds.

The stock engine has also been replaced by an EJ25 that's been fully rebuilt by Japan's JUN Auto to produce 600 hp at the flywheel and to rev beyond 8,000 rpm. To do that, it's got a custom-built crank, forged rods and pistons, high-flow injectors and custom camshafts as well as high-strength valves and springs. The stock turbo is replaced by a Trust TD06 SH25 that pushes up to 25 pounds of boost through a custom front-mount intercooler. On the exhaust side, there's a 2.4-inch dump pipe feeding into a 3-inch main and bellowing through two 4.5-inch cannon tips.

Sending all the power to the heavy-duty Cusco LSD is a sequential-shift Hollinger six-speed dog 'box fitted with a lightweight chrome-moly flywheel and triple-plate Ogura Racing Clutch. And to ensure it can be tamed, it's fitted with custom-made, fully adjustable Cusco coil-overs and heim joints on all linkages. Rolling stock consists of TSW forged alloys (17-by-9.5-inch fronts and 18-by-10.5-inch rears) with Advan Neova rubber.

This idea, in fact, isn't as far-fetched as it might seem. Scion beat the rest of the world to the punch when it revealed its official entry into this year's Formula Drift series at the Detroit auto show in January. Built in conjunction with GReddy performance parts, the Scion FR-S features a 600-hp EJ engine transplant and massive rear wing. It will be piloted by Ken Gushi, a drifting protégé who began competing when he was 16 years old.

Scion FR-S Time Attack
If you've never seen or heard of time attack, then it might sound a bit mundane, as it is essentially a bunch of qualifying sessions to determine the fastest car in the field. There's no wheel-to-wheel racing whatsoever.

But if you've never actually seen a top-level time attack machine, that's where it becomes crazy. There are only a handful of rules that dictate what constitutes a car, which has led to some of the most advanced engineering ever applied to motorsport. Scion has been involved in time attack for a few years now, so it's only natural that our vision of a one-lap FR-S screamer be inspired by its current competitor, a 2,200-pound tC driven by Chris Rado.

The Scion FR-S time attack car, like its tC brother, uses only the floorpan and front and rear bulkheads of the production car stitched together with a full space frame. Carbon/Kevlar panels are hung in full wide-body spec. The firewall has even been coated in gold leaf to protect the driver from the massive heat soak generated by the engine, which is understandable when it produces 1,000 hp.

The stroked 2.6-liter flat-4 has been hand-built with custom forged internals, high-strength valves with titanium springs and magnesium head studs, all of which are designed to handle massive boost from the Turbonetics 80mm turbo. Intake air is routed through a PWR front-mount intercooler and exhaust exits via a 4-inch twin system that blows through the rear diffuser, F1-style, for added downforce.

To help it stay on the ground there are also a chin splitter, front canards and an active rear wing that uses pre-programmed GPS coordinates to flatten out on the straights for increased top speed and then constantly adjusts its angle into the braking zones and through the corners for maximum stability. The suspension is also a fully active system developed by Penske Racing.

86 HKS Drag
Japanese tuning firm HKS has long been associated with building some of the world's quickest Toyotas in all sorts of motorsport disciplines. So there was really no questioning who we'd turn to to build a Sport Compact drag racing version of the Hachi Roku.

The Sport Compact class, with an influx of Japanese and American cars — both front- and rear-drivers — is another perfect fit for the FR-S/BRZ twins.

A lightweight, Kevlar-bodied interpretation of the FR-S's low, sleek lines over a lowered space frame chassis make a pretty good base to start with in terms of top-speed aero performance, while extending it with a flat-plane rear spoiler to cover the twin chutes and wheelie bar will help keep it on the deck. Tucked under its lowered nose, we'd swap the stock 2.0-liter for a 2.6-liter high-performance version of the WRX's 2.5-liter four. The custom-built engine features race-bred forged pistons, crank and connecting rods, high-flow injectors/fuel pumps, nitrous and a custom HKS turbo pushing nearly 60 psi. Fueled by methanol, the setup should be good enough for 1,000 hp.

With its massive rear slicks providing maximum traction from an Xtrac gearbox, the quarter-mile-munching HKS Hachi should be among the front-runners in the Sport Compact class, running 7-second passes down the strip and crossing the line with top speeds in excess of 175 mph.

Portions of this content have appeared in foreign print media and are reproduced with permission.

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