Love your 86 or BRZ... but want more? Read on as we walk you through the ins, and outs, of modifying this pocket rocket T HE TOYOTA 86 and Subaru BRZ have reinvigorated the sportscar market like no other car in recent times.
Taking its legacy from Toyota’s 1980s AE86 “Hachi-Roku”, which became the quintessential car for the Japanese sport of drifting, the 86 and BRZ feel lively, vivacious and downright cheeky on the road with their excellent steering, rev-hungry motor and amazing ability to slide without feeling uncontrollable.
An inexpensive, good-looking, rear-drive, dynamic and engaging car that anyone can easily drive – who could ask for more?
Well, plenty of people, as it turns out.
Almost the moment the sportscar twins were released, tuning companies have raced to develop upgrades for the car. There are aesthetic-oriented parts like body kits, bolt-on wide guards and aero packages, to heavier duty suspension arms, adjustable coil-overs or airbag struts and bracing bars, typical interior upgrades like race seats, rollcages, steering wheels, shifters and stereo components, to engine packages for upgraded natural aspiration combos through various forced induction options, right up to insane engine swaps.
So why mess with something that Subaru and T
Toyota worked so hard to create? Because we can. Just like any car, it isn’t perfect off the factory floor. Not only do we bring our own sense of style and desires when it comes to a car, but there are some flaws with the stock package due to compromises made by the manufacturers.
Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder and I’ve always considered the stock BRZ and 86 wheels to have all the aesthetic appeal of a dropped pie. Shod with tyres designed for the Prius they don’t even offer good grip, while they’re tucked so far inside the guards the showroom cars looks like they're on space savers.
While they arguably don’t need their suspension any stiffer, a ride-height haircut and some fatter, nicer-looking wheels are the first port of call for many 86 and BRZ owners. Adding some heavily bolstered seats to keep you firmly in place at track days or skidpan events is a great modification and there are plenty of bolt-in, fully legal ways to improve your seating thanks to the huge aftermarket support for the 86 and BRZ. Aftermarket gear shifters are also popular to improve the quality of the gear change.
The FA20 (BRZ) and 4U-GSE (86) motors are not great sounding units and, while the coupes are relative lightweights, their 147kW output can easily leave you flat. As a sportscar they do give you that high-RPM buzz, but torque and tarmac-shredding performance isn’t the Toyobaru’s forte. This power deficiency is highlighted massively if you’re used to big-inch V8 family sedans, turbocharged hot hatches or pretty much any performance car from Japan’s halcyon turbo era of the 1990s.
But that’s okay, because the base platform is a ripper and you can build on it to personalise your car to suit your wants and tastes. Start with some aesthetics, then move on to chasing the areas where you feel the stock car’s performance needs improving (brakes? handling? grunt?) and you’ll almost always end up with a vehicle exactly how you want it. Unless your name is Dominic Toretto, you don’t have to build an extreme flame-spitting racecar from the outset.
Even when it comes to engine-tuning there are many options on the table for 86 and BRZ owners.
Different types of supercharger systems, multiple types of turbo kits – some owners have even added a supercharger and a turbocharger – all accommodate different driving styles and budgets.
In the tuning world, the Subaru BRZ is also known as the ZN6, while the Toyota 86 carries a ZC6 model designation. Both these terms will help find hop-up parts for specific cars, as modifiers tend to talk in chassis codes as much as model names, particularly as updates come along and change specifications.
With so much popularity across so many different styles of tuning, the world really is your oyster when it comes to modifying your 86 or BRZ. When it comes to the legality of these modifications it is always wise to consult an approved engineering signatory in your state before starting work.
Read on and we’ll give you a peek at some of the sublime, and the ridiculous, when it comes to hopping up your 86 or BRZ!