Toyota’s next-gen 86 is delayed, and that might be great news for enthusiasts

2020 Toyota 86 GT Cameron Neveu

In the eyes of CEO Akio Toyoda, not enough has been done to prevent his company’s new 86 from twinning with the recently revealed 2022 Subaru BRZ. As originally reported by Japanese outlet Best Car Web, Toyoda recently passed down a crystal-clear decree for Toyota engineers currently developing the project: “Aim to differentiate performance from BRZ.” At this stage in the game, even the smallest of changes on the 86 won’t occur without great difficulty. Inevitably, the debut of the new 86 will be pushed back at least a year, or more, and will certainly occur after the latest BRZ hits the streets.

The natural risk imposed from such a partnership—one in which both vehicles share the same production line—is that the the feel and form of each vehicle can blur together. Toyoda’s demand for differentiation likely caught his engineers off-guard in this final hour, but how can Toyota court sports-car buyers if the 86’s performance is identical, even on paper, to that of the BRZ? Of course, we don’t yet know the specifications of the next-gen 86, but Akio Toyoda clearly wants to set a unique standard.

2022 Subaru BRZ Michael Shaffer

Most likely, Toyota will seek to distinguish the feel of its offering by tweaking suspension tuning, transmission gearing, or, perhaps, engine timing. Exactly how its engineers will tinker with the FA24 2.4-liter boxer four to achieve that feat on short notice remains unanswerable, for now.

Does Toyoda’s last-minute memo indicate that many in the brand’s upper echelons crave a signature charisma in their performance-based offerings? Perhaps the change in tune is merely reactionary in nature, a backlash against critiques of the recent BMW Supra. Whatever the motivation, Toyoda’s attention to detail bodes well for driving enthusiasts.

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