Photos of the newly refreshed 2017 Subaru BRZ have surfaced online today, just days after the significantly re-styled 2017 Toyota 86 made its official debut.
These photos, posted to enthusiast site FT86club.com after purportedly appearing on the Facebook profile of a smaller fan group, appear to have been snapped in a workshop or testing facility. (One photo shows a black BRZ parked haphazardly next to an R32 Nissan Skyline, surrounded by boxes, parts and packing material.)
The front, although not as dramatically altered as the 86, reveals a lightly resculpted and ever-so-slightly taller nose with longer and deeper headlight scallops, while the character lines that previously framed the Subaru badge are also now gone.
The standout change at the front end, however, is the new wing-like styling feature that now extends into the faux intakes either side of the large grille opening. A pair of black fins now trisect those side ports, replacing the lights that lived there before.
Updated lighting is also clearly visible at both ends. The same hooked daytime lights can be seen inside the headlights, but a second row of LEDs now replace the position and indicator lights that previously sat inboard of the main projector lamp.
At the rear, the BRZ appears to feature the same new cherry-red lights that debuted with the 2017 Toyota 86, featuring a top LED strip, a main brake light, and a secondary LED strip for reversing and/or indicator lights. (The indicators could also be located in the lower half of the outer red lens.)
The rear bumper of the BRZ shown here does not appear to have been given any notable updates, but we may yet see a new look - possibly the same pointy new piece used for the 86 - swapped onto Subaru’s coupe before launch.
In the cabin, a brand-new steering wheel can be seen, adding new audio and phone controls, along with a direction-pad for controlling the new multi-function display that can be seen in the instrument cluster. These same changes will appear in the 86, although Toyota has so far revealed only the exterior of the 2017 model.
The interior appears to be largely unchanged elsewhere. A large touchscreen display can be seen in the centre stack, but overseas variants of the BRZ already had this feature - Australian buyers were simply made to go without.
As with the 86, we can likely expect the BRZ to be given a light power boost, climbing from 147kW and 205Nm to a new 151kW and 214Nm. The 86 also benefits from revised gear ratios for the new model year, and that, too, should transfer to the BRZ.
Click the photos tab above for more shots of the 2017 Subaru BRZ .
Speaking with CarAdvice this week, Subaru Australia communications manager David Rowley said that a “late year  on-sale date” is expected for the 2017 BRZ.
Rowley could not be moved to comment on whether local buyers will be treated to the larger touchscreen display. But, with the new steering wheel now very likely to be the standard across both the 86 and BRZ ranges, it stands to reason that we will at last get a BRZ equipped with satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.
Sales of the BRZ have dropped off this year, with year-to-date figures (end of February) showing 57 sales, compared to 80 for the same period in 2015.
Rowley said that although sales have settled, “it’s probably fair to say they’re still healthy for a vehicle in that niche segment”.
Of course, the BRZ is not the only member of its duo to have suffered a settling of sales, with Toyota 86 sales dropping from 440 at this point last year to 248 in 2016.
Both coupes made their Australian debut in 2012, with only minor updates in the time since, while the all-new Mazda MX-5 roadster has swept onto the market with a feature-packed value bundle and sharp pricing.
The 2017 model-year updates to the BRZ and 86, if priced right, should help to ‘right the ship’ for both.