No BRZ STI in the plan

words - Bruce Newton
But Subaru Australia has its own ideas for cult hero coupe
The much vaunted BRZ STI is not yet part of Subaru's product portfolio plan.

In fact there are no full-bore performance models under development at Subaru Tecnica International to join the just-launched WRX STI in production.

That's the sad news delivered by Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior, who instead says the local division is lobbying for more STI models, but also planning its own tweaks to the cult hero BRZ rear-wheel drive coupe.

However, don't expect a performance star in the way a BRZ STI with a turbocharged 2.0-litre boxer engine would be.

"The focus has been on growing [Subaru] sales around the world," Senior told motoring.com.au. "We are still reasonably small as a manufacturer and resources are limited and have to be targeted.

"That means at the moment there is no plan to have another STI model.

"But it doesn't mean to say that me and other distributors around the world aren't continually lobbying ... you respectfully suggest that there is another opportunity for an STI model and I am sure one day there will be.

"What it is I don't know, but I look at the product portfolio plan and there is no other STI on there."

STI has been doing some work on BRZ, including last year's Japan-only tS, tS GT and RA racing versions. There is speculation in the automotive press that an STI could appear in 2016.

An updated model year 2015 BRZ goes on-sale in Japan in June and is expected here in the third quarter.

Subarus only gain the STI name – as opposed to terms such as 'tuned by STI' – if the car gets a bonafide performance enhancement, as a turbocharged BRZ would.

The Australians have already developed their own BRZ S Pack (pictured), which went on-sale in 2013, using the STI parts bin to enhance suspension and looks.

And it seems more of the same is to follow, helping to maintain sales interest, but also provide a distinct marketing separation from the Toyota 86, which was co-developed with the BRZ.

"We are looking at some ... BRZ special editions," Senior confirmed.

"I like the fact that in 20, 30, 40 years time when people are going through car auctions there will be BRZs that are numbered, there will be BRZs with S Packs, there will be BRZs with stripes and all different types of things," he added.

"Whereas over on the other line there will be a Toyota 86."

However, because the car sells in limited numbers (averaging around 80 per month in 2014) there would be no big 'special edition' runs like last year's 'RS40' WRX which comprised 300 units.

"We would do a one-off, just to have some fun," Senior said. "We will do it ourselves. We did the S Pack ourselves. The more people say we can't do things the more we want to do them.

"We have enough talent in Subaru Australia – there's only 95 people – to come up with ideas... and we have to be innovative."

Published : Friday, 25 April 2014
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