Well, this is a little disappointing. Yet again, Subaru quashes our hopes for a proper STI-treated version of their BRZ coupe. Instead, the teaser we were presented earlier at the end of May portended the arrival of BRZ tS to the North American market.
For the uninitiated, it’s fair to categorise ‘tS’ spec Subarus as the halfway houses between standard versions and a full-blooded performance-oriented STI variants of a car, and the warmed up BRZ that was unwrapped last night can be seen as just that.
With a compact body, low weight, classic front engine and rear-drive setup, manual transmission, deft suspension, and a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-four petrol engine that produces 147kW, the BRZ along with its Toyota twin, the 86, are heroes of the everyday enthusiast. But as the years have passed, both cars have remained largely unaltered - still great driver’s cars, even if the formula is no longer fresh.
The BRZ tS is, to its credit, meant to be an even better car to drive thanks to new springs and damper, stickier tyres, uprated brakes, and steering tweaks. There’s also a more aggressive exterior pack applied that consists of that STI rear spoiler (which got us a little too excited) that’s manually adjustable, along with a front, rear, and side under spoilers to improve downforce and in-corner traction.
Inside, there’s copious amounts of Alcantara throughout the cabin that’s accented by red contrast stitching on the steering wheel, door panel, gear shifter, and emergency brake boot. Matching that are red front seat belts and a centre console that’s been given a cast black finish.
It should also be mentioned that Subaru hadn’t created the BRZ tS specifically for this American release but rather made an existing enthusiast-pleasing variant available as it had been on sale in Japan as far back as 2013.
The WRX STI Type RA, then, actually presents a more interesting story as it does feature an engine with a increased power output. It’s slight, though, but real nonetheless - the 2.5-litre turbocharged flat-flour is boosted to an estimated 231kW thanks to a retuned ECU, new cold air intake, high flow performance exhaust, and revised pistons. Additionally, Subaru have gone through the car’s component breakdown and identified some areas where weight is literally holding it back.
As a result, there’s a carbon fibre roof panel, carbon pedestal wing, an omitted spare tyre, lightweight BBS 19-inch forged alloy wheels that now wear sticky Yokohama Advan Sports tyres. New suspension components (inverted front struts, rear double wishbone with all-round Bilstein dampers) and bigger Brembo stoppers. Inside, the Type RA gets Recaro front sport buckets with control points such as the steering wheel wrapped in Ultrasuede.
The ‘RA’ in Type RA actually stands for ‘Record Attempt’, and it’s the latest in a line of performance Subarus that trace their lineage to 1989 when a competition-spec Subaru Legacy took the FIA World Speed Endurance Record, achieving an average 222km/h over an 18-day run in which the car covered nearly 100,000km.
That’s a lot live up to, and Subaru plans to take a “Nurburgring speed record” this midyear with a specially prepared NBR Special version of the WRX STI Type RA. They did not exactly specify what type of speed record this is, though we assume it’s a similar endurance run with a high average top speed being the defining line.