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New York show: More power for Subaru BRZ

Winds of change: Subaru has unveiled a concept version of its BRZ sportscar that borrows a turbocharged race engine from the Super GT competition car.

Subaru’s STI division answers pleas for boosted BRZ boxer – but no firm timing yet

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Subaru logo2 Apr 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER in NEW YORK

SUBARU has unveiled a sharpened STI-tuned version of its popular BRZ sportscar at the New York International Auto Show this week, heralding turbocharged power for its road-going model.

Both Subaru and partner Toyota have previously said turbocharging the BRZ and the technically identical 86 was not feasible due to limited under-bonnet space.

However, the STI Performance Concept presented in the Big Apple – packed with a version of the Super GT ‘EJ20’ racing engine – amply demonstrates that the 2.0-litre boxer four-cylinder can be turbocharged in an apparently unmodified road-car shell, paving the way for a production version to follow.

Subaru of America president and CEO Thomas J Doll told GoAuto in New York that the show car previews a more powerful version of the BRZ.

“Yes, that’s the idea,” he said. “We can’t tell you exactly when that’s going to happen but the concept will be forward to achieve extra horsepower. We know that it’s one of the issues and that’s part of our plan.”

The lightweight two-seater BRZ has been revamped in several special editions since its launch less than three years ago, but up until now none of the versions have addressed one of the car’s most frequent criticisms – a lack of outright power.

The current version produces 147kW of power and 205Nm of torque, but pressure-charging would significantly boost power output, taking the BRZ from clubman to potent sports coupe.

Mr Doll said a lot of work was still required before a more powerful BRZ hits the road.

“We are still evaluating how to do all of that. I don’t want you to think that this is coming tomorrow because it’s not. It could, but we have to do some other engineering and testing,” he said.

In full race trim, the concept’s horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine pumps out a whopping 257kW and 441Nm, but a more tractable road engine would certainly wind the taps back in the name of longevity.

The concept has also undergone extensive chassis and aerodynamic modifications at the hands of Subaru’s tuning authority and was created to promote plans to expand the three core operational areas of aftermarket parts, tuned cars and motorsports in the US region.

Subaru Tecnica International (STI) president Yoshio Hirakawa said that while the company had created a more powerful version of the finely balanced BRZ, it had not lost sight of the model’s key objectives.

“At STI we know from our racing that, to win, it is important not only to have high power but also that all aspects of performance are balanced over the whole car,” he said.

“When we achieve this balance, the driver feels that the car is easy to handle and reliable, and he can use it fully to the limits of its performance. Our plan is to produce cars and accessories that drivers can really enjoy.”

In addition to the mighty force-fed engine, the concept showcases a carbon-fibre steering wheel with integrated shift-lights, full racing seats and a wide dash-mounted “race widget” screen displaying vehicle information such as G-load.

On the outside the BRZ concept has dramatic styling and aerodynamic changes with 18-inch wheels, large expanses of carbon-fibre, a sizeable fixed rear wing, restyled front and rear bumpers featuring beefy twin centre-exit exhausts, and LED light clusters all-round.

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