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New Partnership Between Toyota, Mazda, And Subaru Promise Exciting New Engines

Despite Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru working on reducing carbon emissions, they still promise excitement from future models.

On 28 May, Toyota announced an expanded partnership with Mazda and Subaru, which targets carbon emissions. It is no secret that the three companies have had some great collaborations in recent years. The Toyota 86 and more recently, the GR86 was co-developed with Subaru and while the next 86 is said to be a Toyota-only product, the two companies will be working together on reducing carbon emissions.  

Mazda and Toyota have had their fair share of collaborations and this extends to the next-generation, Lexus high-performance model, said to share a platform with Mazda's spiritual successor to the RX-7.

Considering the three companies go in very different ways to preserve the internal-combustion engine, this Toyota-Subaru-Mazda partnership is an unlikely one. Despite that, the three company CEOs have made a decision to follow a so-called "multi-pathway", meaning internal combustion engines will evolve alongside the electrification process.  

What could this mean for performance vehicles? 

Mazda Iconic SP - a window into the brand's future sports car design

Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru's CEO are adamant that they will continue to provide exciting sports cars, and by all accounts, the majority of those would be non-hybrid.  

Toyota CEO, Koji Sato, said: "In order to provide our customers with diverse options to achieve carbon neutrality, it is necessary to take on the challenge of evolving engines that are in tune with the energy environment of the future. The three companies, which share the same aspirations, will refine engine technologies through friendly competition." 

Toyota is already ahead in the liquid hydrogen game, showing that the existing internal combustion engines can reliably run on hydrogen fuel with relatively minor alterations. 

On the other hand, Toyota's recent partnership with ExxonMobil bore fruit as real-world testing of synthetic fuels was successfully completed. The best part is these research fuels do not require modifications to the existing engine designs. 

Meanwhile, Mazda is doing its own part by making some of its most iconic models electric. Sadly for purists, this includes the 2026 Mazda MX-5. Mazda hasn't given details regarding the degree of electrification the Miata is getting, but it is almost certainly going to be a mild hybrid. Mazda promises even less weight and over 100 horsepower per liter for the next-gen Mazda MX-5.

We also know Mazda patented a three-rotor, plug-in hybrid powertrain for its flagship sports car, incorporating three electric motors and a variable-voltage system that would alter between 48 and 96 volts. That same system is already featured in Mazda's larger vehicles like the CX-90, using the newly-developed inline-six engines. 

Mazda CEO, Masahiro Moro said: "We will continue to offer customers exciting cars by honing internal combustion engines for the electrification era and expanding the multi-pathway possibilities for achieving carbon neutrality. Given the rotary engine's compatibility with electrification and carbon-neutral fuels, Mazda will continue to develop the technology through co-creation and competition to ensure it can contribute broadly to society." 

For 2024, Subaru WRX stil lstruggles to fill in the shoes of the now-deceased STI

Of the three Japanese car companies, Subaru seems to be last in terms of electrification. Currently, the Subaru Solterra is the only BEV model offered by the brand, and it's technically a rebadged Toyota BZ4X. However, three EV models will join the Solterra in 2026. 

Subaru CEO, Atsushi Osaki said: "Achieving a carbon-neutral society is a challenge that must be undertaken by all of Japan's industries and society as a whole. As we continue to refine electrification technology, we will also enhance our horizontally opposed engines with an aim to use carbon-neutral fuels in the future. Moving forward, the three companies sharing the same aspiration will continue to advance the pursuit of sustainable excellence in Japanese car manufacturing." 

With that said, Subaru's future plans for performance vehicles are a bit of a mystery, but we know a Solterra STI is on the way. Meanwhile, the current Subaru WRX has the unenviable task of filling the shoes of the previous generation – a daunting task, especially with no STI variant in sight. Granted, reports from Japan spoke of a Subaru WRX S4 STI Sport# variant that would be limited to 500 units, but even that has barely more power than the regular WRX. 

With this new era of electrified performance cars and carbon-neutral fuels, Subaru would do well to follow in Toyota and Mazda's footsteps and bring back iconic nameplates from its rich heritage. As new information about future models emerges, we will share and elaborate on it. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

About the author

Dimitar Angelov's automotive interests made him an expert in a wide variety of vehicles. Japanese brands like Toyota are closest to his heart, although performance cars in general are his favorite segment, which is why he is constantly on the lookout for the best deals on the market. Dimitar Angelov's car passion and knack for the written word led him to complete a Master of Arts in Media and Communications, and classic car restoration. Dim is happy to get behind the wheel of any car and share his impressions. You can follow Dimitar on XLinked-inInstagram, and Facebook.

Image sources: Lexus Electrified Sport, Mazda Iconic SP, Subaru WRX