Even though Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S fans here in the U.S. would like to see a convertible variant, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. When the Toyota GT86 Convertible was shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013 it looked like a new Scion FR-S/Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ convertible would be coming to showrooms. Why haven’t we seen one?
A feasibility study was conducted by Scion
According to a report by Automotive News, Scion executives have confirmed there will not be a FR-S/BRZ convertible for this generation. Scion axed any plans to build one after completing a feasibility study in June 2014. Doug Murtha, Scion brand’s vice president told AN, they took the plan outside the U.S. market where excitement was high, to Europe and China, but demand there was not enough to make it work.
Scion takes the lead
Dealers in the U.S. were pushing for the convertible project to happen as demand was gauged to be high in the North American market. Scion took the lead and even investigated the engineering aspects of the project. Murtha said, "We took the lead on that within North America. We started doing some of the engineering investigation. We could not build a business case." Murtha went on to say, "I don't think anyone in Japan was necessarily expecting us to show it as profitable. But there was only a certain amount they were prepared to lose on it, and we weren't in that range."
Subaru needs to be on board
Subaru has been hesitant to move forward with the BRX/FR-S GT86 convertible because they have cited the new drop top would not meet their internal safety standards. Fuji Heavy Industries president Yasuyuki Yoshinaga told AN in November 2013, “I understand well that Toyota is receiving strong requests from the American market for the car. But the biggest challenge is meeting our internal safety standards. There are big technical difficulties.”
Subaru won’t build a convertible BRZ/FR-S if it doesn’t meet certain standards
In order for the new convertible to make it to fans driveways, the BRZ/FR-S wheelbase would have to be stretched and extra bracing needed to maintain rigidity and strength. Subaru’s main concern is the internal safety standards that the Japanese automaker holds for all its vehicles. Subaru is the only automaker in the world with the distinction of earning IIHS Top Safety Pick awards for every model it builds.
They won’t sacrifice building a convertible BRZ if it doesn’t meet their high safety standards. Yoshinaga went on to say, “We make the car, so if we don’t make it, it can’t happen. Our engineering department told me that losing the entire roof requires a complete redesign of the structure. It would need a big change.”
All hope is not lost because a new-generation BRZ/FR-S has been confirmed by Subaru. Yoshinaga says the relationship between the two automakers will continue to produce another generation model. Even though fans won’t see a current-generation Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S drop top, there’s still hope for the convertible variant for the next generation sports coupe. Stay tuned.