Subaru brand chief says no to convertible version of the BRZ

Article by Anita Panait, on November 21, 2013

For those wanting a convertible version of the Subaru BRZ sporty coupe, Subaru brand chief Yasuyuki Yoshinaga has bad news for you – it is a big “no”. He says it would require a complete overhaul to comply with safety standards. His remarks came as Toyota Motor Corp., which sells a rebadged version of the Scion FR-S, unveiled its convertible concept at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Yoshinaga, who is also president of Subaru-brand parent Fuji Heavy Industries, remarked that his company would not build a drop-top variant for the both carmakers.

He remarked at the show that since Subaru builds the BRZ/FR-S (also known as Toyota 86 or Toyota GT86 in other markets), a convertible version won’t happen if they decide against it. He said that their engineering department has told him that doing away with the entire roof needs a complete redesign of the structure – which means a big change.

Subaru’s vocal opposition and Toyota’s persistent teasers of a convertible concept indicate a fight for creative control of the sporty coupe. Toyota and Subaru tied up on the project, with Toyota contributing the design and styling and Subaru in charge of the drivetrain, layout and manufacturing. The production model had its debut at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.

While Toyota has shown a convertible concept of its FR-Sit, it remained non-committal of its materialization. The Japanese carmaker unveiled a convertible concept called the FT-86 Open at the Geneva motor show, a version with an electrically operated soft top appeared at the Tokyo show.

But Yoshinaga remained unmoved, saying that he understands that Toyota is receiving strong requests from the American market for the convertible car. Their biggest challenge is meeting their internal safety standards, adding that there are big technical difficulties.

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