Subaru considers BRZ STI with electric compressor
Subaru has rejected the idea of turbocharging its BRZ coupe, however the company has left open the possibility of using a slightly different approach to achieve higher engine output.
Despite enthusiasm from executives and customers, Toyota last year dismissed building either a convertible or turbocharged Scion FR-S. Amid poor sales, the company did not see a business case for spending the development dollars on either project.
Subaru’s STI team does not appear to be as pessimistic about the sales potential for a more powerful BRZ. The company is said to view an exhaust-driven turbocharger as impractical for other reasons, however, including packaging difficulties and potential problems with crash-test performance.
STI boss Yoshio Hirakawa has promised to launch two new models per year, and the BRZ is on the short list, according to a recent interview with Australia’s Motoring. The executive suggests engineers are trying an “advanced technology” for a BRZ STI, acknowledging that an electrically-driven compressor is an option to overcome the challenges posed by traditional turbochargers.
“This is a sensitive subject,” he admitted. “But it is under study for the STI model.”
Using an electric motor to spin a compressor requires more battery power but significantly reduces plumbing. The technology is also capable of running at full boost at low rpm, essentially eliminating turbo lag.
An electrically-boosted BRZ is unlikely to arrive until after the Toyota 86 platform enters its next generation, potentially in 2018. In the meantime, Toyota is said to be working on a midcycle update to arrive in 2016 with a bit more power, suspension upgrades, revised bodywork and a carbon-fiber roof.