My colleagues at Autocar Japan have tested the new Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR 86 back to back.

You might recall that the original BRZ and GT86 were mechanically identical, and if there was a difference between the two in the way that they drove, at most it would have been via minor suspension geometry and tyre-pressure changes – or imagined. I like the Toyobaru so much that it’s my favourite car of the past decade. 

This time around, the differences are supposed to be greater. As before, Subaru is looking after the general development and build of the cars, and while both still share common hardware, Autocar Japan reports that Toyota has a team embedded at Subaru and the collaboration is deeper, which gave both sets of engineers the opportunity to set out more clearly what they wanted. 

The short of it is that, in track use, the GR 86 feels happier to be sent sideways, while the BRZ is a more precise tool. “It’s easy to bring the GR 86 into oversteer,” reports Autocar Japan, while the BRZ emphasises “controllability with little slip angle”.

In Japan, while customers will have the choice of either car (and at bargain prices), we in the UK will be denied the pleasure of choice, because Subaru isn’t going to officially import the new BRZ. In the face of Toyota’s greater marketing and dealer power last time, it didn’t sell enough to make it worthwhile. 

That’s a shame, because it seems the new cars have more differences than just badged and paint options. Although with GR 86 “emphasising manoeuvrability” and the BRZ majoring on “efficient sports performance”, it sounds like we’re getting the livelier, more likeable one.