With the 2022 Subaru BRZ revealed all the way back in November, it would be reasonable to expect that we’d have seen Toyota’s version by now. Toyota itself teased the new 86's arrival — rumored to be called the GR86 — in February, while also discontinuing the outgoing 86 in the United Kingdom. But plans may have hit a snag.
A report from Japan’s Next Car Web published last week suggests that Toyota head honcho Akio Toyoda deemed the new 86 too similar to the new BRZ, and told engineers to go back to the drawing board and differentiate the car from its badge-swapped sibling as best they can.
It’s theorized that Toyota could accomplish this by messing with the car’s gearing and engine tuning. However, given that the car is essentially complete, the engineers are reportedly struggling to pull off the feat in the 11th hour. It may also push the car’s release into next year.
The article — through the help of Google Translate, of course — calls this an “unexpected” setback, which seems appropriate given that the similarities between the old BRZ and 86 never seemed to be much of an issue for Toyota before. Nor did the Supra and BMW Z4's shared development and production.
Toyota’s been clear in the past that cars like the 86 and Supra are only feasible for the company when it’s able to split costs with a partner like Subaru or BMW. Of course, the negative side effect of that is that you end up with a car that can only be so unique from its counterpart. Enthusiasts often chide Toyota for this, and it seems like perhaps the criticism is getting to them.
That’s all well and good, but refocusing development like this so late in the game seems like a tricky task if that indeed is what’s going on here. If Toyota truly wants its other performance cars to be as unique as the GR Yaris, then perhaps it should consider going it alone more often. Or, I guess don’t, and live with those consequences. Evidently, the company will try to have its cake and eat it too here, and we’ll be curious to see the results.