Enthusiasts hoping the second-generation Subaru BRZ would break cover with a turbocharged engine were sorely disappointed. Unveiled this week, it receives a bigger engine that delivers more horsepower and torque, but it remains naturally aspirated. Subaru explained why its engineers ruled out adopting forced induction.
Power for the BRZ comes from a 2.4-liter flat-four that’s related to the engine found in the Ascent, but the turbo didn’t make the leap from the crossover to the coupe due to weight, packaging, and cost restrictions. Dominick Infante, the head of Subaru’s public relations team, told Road & Track that turbocharging the BRZ would have required mounting the engine higher, which would have compromised handling by raising the center of gravity.
Going turbo would have made the BRZ heavier, too. Although the actual turbocharger doesn’t add a significant amount of weight, the mass of the related components (like the intercooler, various pipes, and so on) piles up. And, inevitably, incorporating these parts would have forced Subaru to increase the model’s price. With a turbo, the BRZ would be heavier, more expensive, and not as balanced in the name of extra horsepower, and that’s not its calling in life. It’s marketed as a reasonably light, fairly affordable, and highly balanced machine.
One interesting point few have brought up is that the BRZ’s engine will almost certainly power the next Toyota 86, and its horsepower output stands within striking distance of the Toyota Supra’s four-cylinder. The 2.4-liter develops 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, while the Supra’s entry-level 2.0-liter is rated at 255 and 295, respectively. Adding a turbo would risk bumping the BRZ’s horsepower figure over the 255 mark, which would look bad, since that’s the metric many buyers use to judge a performance car. Alternatively, going through the trouble of turbocharging the engine to cap its output at 245, for example, would be a colossal waste of time.
We’d be surprised if the BRZ goes turbo later in the 2020s, but look on the bright side. At least it exists — rumors claimed the first-generation model would retire without a successor, and they were moderately credible. And at least it will be sold in America; Subaru confirmed the coupe will not be available on the European market.