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by Tim Beissmann

Now this is more like it: the Subaru BRZ Concept – STI.

Subaru has released digital images of the BRZ Concept – STI, a racier version of the Subaru BRZ sports coupe that will be unveiled at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show in exactly four weeks’ time.

Subaru says the concept “strongly hints at the styling of the production BRZ”, and represents “the next step in lightweight performance cars combined with the race-bred tuning of Subaru Technica International (STI)”.

The images give us our first look at the basic design elements of the new Subaru BRZ, which will share much with its sister car, the Toyota FT-86.

The most obvious difference between the styling of the two vehicles is the grille. The BRZ’s prominent opening is typical of the ‘smiley face’ design and features a bold black plastic section in the upper half. The Toyota will get a more recessed mouth that curves inwards, similar in concept to the Lexus LFA.

At the rear, the BRZ Concept – STI abandons the clear-lens taillight treatment that is expected to be a feature of both the Subaru and Toyota production models, instead applying a more traditional red housing with LED tubes.

The BRZ Concept – STI scores a number of other unique design highlights, including a lower front spoiler, rear wing, carbon fibre roof, bolstered rear wheels arches, vented rear bumper corners and a massive rear diffuser with polished stainless steel quad tailpipes.

The exterior is finished with ‘WR Blue Pearl II’ – Subaru says it’s the “new generation of the iconic WR blue paint scheme” – and bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels.

STI has gone to work under the body too, fitting the BRZ Concept – STI with Brembo brakes and a unique suspension tune.

Subaru says the enhancements give the BRZ Concept – STI razor-sharp reflexes to make it the “ultimate handling machine”.

The concept will still get a naturally aspirated version of the all-new 2.0-litre four-cylinder FA Boxer engine, although it is unknown if it will sport a more powerful tune than the production model.

Specifications of the Toyota FT-86 leaked yesterday revealed the production BRZ is likely to produce 147kW of power (at 7000rpm) and 205Nm of torque (at 6600rpm).

Unlike Toyota Australia, which has confirmed the FT-86 will go on sale locally around the middle of next year, Subaru Australia is yet to finalise its plans for BRZ. As we have reported earlier, the BRZ presents a philosophical dilemma for Subaru Australia, which has been exclusively all-wheel drive for 15 years, however we believe the brand is warming to the idea of the rear-driven 2+2 sports coupe.

The Subaru Concept – STI will be unveiled to the world at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 16.