The best could be yet to come.
The second-generation Toyota GR 86 and Subaru BRZ twins are here and we're thrilled. Given the generally low demand for niche sports coupes such as these, it's somewhat of a miracle they're back for a new model cycle. Their predecessors were around for nearly a decade and this gives us hope the new models will have long lives as well. But things are different today than they were back in 2012 as electrification is quickly becoming the powertrain norm.
Both coupes are now powered by a new 2.4-liter boxer four-cylinder rated at 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, a boost of 23 hp and 28 lb-ft over the old engine, but according to Japan's Best Car, electrified versions of both models are being discussed.
During a recent media roundtable event in the country, officials from Subaru and Toyota hinted that the latter's hybrid technology could find its way into both models. A flat-out 'yes' or 'no' was not given, but rather that its use "is not impossible." Opting for a hybrid setup would certainly reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The hybrid tech could further be utilized to add power. Remember, neither of these models has ever received an OEM turbocharger, something many have wanted out of the desire for more power. An electric motor paired with the combustion engine could provide a very satisfactory substitute.
But, there is a likely downside. Light weight has always been part of the coupe's formula and the addition of a lithium-ion battery plus and other necessary hybrid components could easily ruin that.
One workaround is to opt for a straight-up hybrid layout instead of a heavier plug-in hybrid one. Using a smaller battery and less powerful electric motor would certainly help as well. This possibility should sound familiar.
Earlier this summer, we reported Lexus is supposedly working on its own version of the coupe, possibly to be called the UC, and it could use the same gasoline engine connected to a PHEV or mild-hybrid setup. In other words, if Lexus is indeed working on this, then it'd make some financial sense to leverage its R&D costs with its Toyota and Subaru cousins. If the automakers can figure out how to keep off excess weight and provide a solid amount of additional power, then hybridization could work extremely well here.