Work has begun on a prototype that could become a new mid-engined successor to the Subaru BRZ, according to a report out of the US this week.
The prototype, said to be a response to dealers looking for “something special”, would be worlds away from Subaru’s familiar image. But, then, talk of the BRZ was once viewed in a similar light. (And then there’s the SVX…)
American website Car & Driver reports that inside sources have spoken of a project that combines a version of the current BRZ coupe with a petrol-electric hybrid system for a performance-focused all-wheel-drive application.
That hybrid system is said to be based on the next-generation all-wheel-drive system that featured in the 2014 Viziv 2 SUV concept, which sees the front wheels driven by a 1.6-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder petrol boxer engine and an electric motor, while the rear wheels get one electric motor each.
For this new mid-engined prototype, however, Subaru’s engineers are understood to have essentially flipped that design, moving the petrol engine backwards and the two wheel-turning electric motors to the front.
Above and top: Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept
Interestingly, Car & Driver reports that its inside connection said Subaru is still deciding whether to develop the system further for a coupe application, or to instead build a small sports SUV. If the latter is the case, a return to the slightly more conventional layout used by the Viziv 2 would surely be likely.
Fans will be pleased to hear, though, that the insider is reported to have added: “a coupe seems more likely, though”.
Of course, if a production future is on the cards, the reported prototype’s Frankensteined BRZ design is unlikely to form the basis of the final model. According to Car & Driver, and understandably so, the BRZ was used simply because it’s the only appropriate architecture readily available at this stage.
If this report out of the US is to be believed, we should see camouflaged test cars hit the road in the year ahead.