The Subaru BRZ was designed to be a lightweight, nimble sports car in the vein of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but since its launch in 2012, enthusiasts have clamored for more power to go with the BRZ’s quick reflexes.
At first glance, the Subaru BRZ STI Sport concept debuting at the Tokyo Auto Salon seems like it could deliver. It bears the name of Subaru’s STI performance division after all. But the concept will likely focus more on cosmetic upgrades, and it’s unclear if it will translate into a production model that will be sold in the United States.
The BRZ STI Sport concept gets a new body kit with a more aggressive front bumper, special 18-inch alloy wheels, and a Bordeaux Red interior. That’s all Subaru has to say about the car for now, although some mechanical upgrades may be lurking behind the styling changes.
If the BRZ STI Sport really is just a styling exercise, though, it may disappoint fans. They’ve been hoping for Subaru to squeeze more power out of the BRZ’s 2.0-liter boxer-four engine, which currently produces 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. Because while the BRZ is very entertaining to drive, it isn’t exactly fast. That doesn’t seem to be an issue for the similarly sized, similarly priced Mazda Miata, but expectations for the Subaru are apparently different.
Subaru has teased the idea of a more powerful BRZ. It unveiled an STI Performance Concept based on the car at the 2015 New York Auto Show, complete with wild exterior styling and a racing engine. The automaker has also said that it plans to expand the STI brand in the U.S. The WRX STI is currently the only model to wear that badge here.
But that expansion will likely be limited to special trim packages like the recent BRZ Series.Yellow and Series.HyperBlue, rather than full-on performance models. The BRZ STI Sport concept could very well preview the next one of these special editions. Fans may have to keep dreaming of a more muscular version of Subaru’s little sports car.