Subaru BRZ STI Concept (Speedhunters)

Come April it's going to be a mighty hard choice for potential owners of the 86 and BRZ. Which car to go for? They are virtually the same vehicle, no major differences except the badges and of course similar prices.  However, once the car you see here hits the showroom it's going to be might hard not to go the Subaru route. STI have been teasing us with modified versions of the BRZ, first at the LA Auto Show with the first concept, and now with this closer to production version that was shown at the Tokyo Auto Salon earlier this month.

Thanks to the great guys at STI we were able to spend a few quiet moments with the car yesterday at company's HQ in Mitaka.

It was great to see the STI signature blue shine out in the open, a color that suits the BRZ rather well. 

When first announced the whole 86/BRZ project sounded rather strange to many. Some were skeptical about the appeal and potential of the "Toybaru" but I bet nobody is thinking that right now, especially if they have been lucky enough to drive the car! Sure it might not be AWD or turbocharged but the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 86 are exactly what enthusiasts have been craving. The standard car is built to be a somewhat affordable and fun package, with tons of potential. And it's precisely this potential that STI have tapped into with their interpretation of the BRZ.

After having built some of the best handling rally cars and road cars in the world, it's safe to say that STI have a very good idea on how to make a great car even better. First up is weight, or rather shedding it. The BRZ drops a few kilograms here and there thanks to nice little details like...

...the carbon fiber roof, which is a great way to improve handling as it lowers the center of gravity of the car, already very low on the BRZ. This is likely something that will make it to the production version as it's become quite a popular detail on limited edition STI cars, like the already sold-out S206.

The carbon hood is impressively light... can lift it up with a finger but if I had to make a guess I'd say it would be far too expensive to be used on the final version of the car. It's built to very high standards and is as beautiful outside... it is on the underside. No FRP understructure here, it's all top grade dry carbon.

Let's move on to the engine. 

The direct injected flat-4 has been left stock, the engine bay spiced up with a nice selection of STI "pink bits"...

...starting off with the oil filter and oil cap...

...the radiator cap...

...and ending with the flexible tower bar, one of STI's most simple, yet great inventions!

This is the coolest bit of accessorizing I've seen in a while, a battery stay that looks like a mini-STI tower flexible tower bar! I want one for my Legacy!

While performance will remain at 200HP the boxer sound is enhanced by this nice exhaust, which sports massive tail pipes with etched-on STI logo.

While the carbon side skirts of the first concept from the LA Auto Show are gone this car retains a few minor aerodynamic additions like the front splitter...

...and rear trunk spoiler. 

It all makes for a very nice and subtly enhanced look.

It's the 18-inch STI multi-spoke wheels that really make the car, replacing those generic looking rims the BRZ/86/FRS all come with as standard. They measure 7.5Jx18 +48 at each corner and are equipped with sticky Dunlop Direzza ZII, 215/45R18 at the front, and slightly wider 225/45R18 at the rear. And yes, those are STI 4-pot calipers at the front, joining 2-pot items at the rear. This looks like the same braking set up as used on the Impreza WRX STI so you can expect this car, which weighs a good 200 kg less, to have serious stopping capabilities! As you probably noticed this BRZ STI sits much lower than stock, thanks to the STI-tuned Bilstein dampers. 

That front protruding lip spoiler definitely adds tons of aggression to the front!

Just in case you were wondering, BRZ stands for Boxer, Rear wheel drive, Zenith

Inside it's all pretty much stock, maybe the final production car will get special STI seats but having driven the 86 fitted with the same chairs, I can't really fault them in any way as they are both comfortable and supportive enough for the occasional track day. And that is something you can't say for the majority of seats in new Japanese cars!

The latest-gen Carrozzeria navigation/audio system from Pioneer graced the double-DIN space in the dashboard, probably something that will be available from the no-doubts vast, dealer option catalogue.

STI branded accessories included the shift knob...

...and the pink STI engine start button. 

The borderless rearview mirror is something the BRZ and the 86 both get, but won't be available in the more cost-conscious FRS.

The main instrumentation in the BRZ is a little different from the 86, with a red on black analogue gauges and more Subaru looking number-design. Only 9 km on the odometer!

The 2+2 layout does make the car very practical when you need to carry the odd friend, although leg room is very limited.

When folded flat they do give a lot of loading space and you can definitely squeeze a set of track wheels and various tools... through the trunk.

So there you have it. It might not be available until the very end of the year, or early next year, but the STI version of the BRZ serves up an even more mouth-watering proposition to the most anticipated car of the year. Question is, if you are in the market for one of these cars, would you wait that long?

Article & photos source: SPEEDHUNTERS