Toyota, Subaru Unveil Lightweight GT86 RC and BRZ RA Models
By Carl Malek
When Toyota unveiled the GT86 (AKA the Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ) it was plainly obvious that the Japanese car firm had ambitious plans for its newest sports car project, which is the first product of the company’s partnership with Subaru. Now Toyota and Subaru have written the next chapter in the GT 86/BRZ story with the official unveiling of the Toyota GT86 RC and Subaru BRZ RA models.
When Toyota and Subaru engineers began work on the RC and RA versions, their main goal was to not only cut as much weight as possible out of both vehicles but to also reduce cost as well. On the weight savings side of the equation, they have succeeded by cutting 100 pounds from the car. This is accomplished thanks to a bold crash diet that eliminates many of the features and creature comforts that are normally offered on stock versions of BRZ and GT86.
This unique package begins on the exterior where engineers have outfitted the Toyota version with unpainted door handles, side mirrors, and front and rear bumpers. In addition, the stock 17 inch aluminum wheels are shelved in favor of cheaper 16 inch steel wheels, and the fog lights have been removed to shed precious weight. Expect the Subaru BRZ to have a bit more of a refined appearance with painted bumpers offered as standard equipment.
However, it is in the interior of both models where the weight savings get much more radical. Toyota and Subaru engineers left no stone unturned in the quest for maximum weight reduction, and took the liberty of not only removing typically heavy components such as the air conditioning unit, the stock stereo unit, and speaker assemblies. But also more unconventional items which include the foot-well lights, the glove box assembly, the plastic trim pieces from the steering wheel and shifter, the glove box assembly, and the indentations for the cup holders.
Thankfully, changes to the performance hardware were very minimal and the car still offers the same near-perfect weight distribution and the same 200 horsepower boxer engine that provides both variants with plenty of punch. The only omissions made for RC and RA models is the removal of the plastic engine cover, and the electronic limited slip diffrential which is replaced with a cheaper and lighter mechanically driven variant.
In addition to the weight shedding benefits, the removal of all of these pieces of equipment also helped engineers lighten the price of both models somewhat with a final price tag of 1.9 million yen which is equivalent to $24,601 for the GT86 RC when conversion rates are applied. These numbers make the car much less expensive than the standard version and that should please buyers that will most likely use both cars for multiple types of automobile racing.
Unfortunately both models will be exclusive to the Japanese market with no official plans for a North American variant as of this writing. But hopefully Scion will possibly have a change of heart and offer a lightweight model of the FR-S for consumers that fondly remember the 2007 Scion tC Spec package, which had a similar stripped-out theme and also allowed buyers to personalize it to their tastes.