Toyota GT86 drops cred with roof.

For 20 years, the craving to have a proper hard-top Mada Miata has been an interesting prospect for the enthusiast.  Given, there’s a certain thrill to having the open cloth roof– loads of headroom, fresh air, and far less diluted engine note.  For me, I still like the idea of a hard-top.  There’s added security (and strength) to the car with a fixed roof– both in a roll over, and for the fact it’s not as simple as a buck-knife to ruin.

The Toyota/Subaru/Scion gibberish that I’ll simply state as the BRZ (since it lacks the ugly front fascia of the Scion/Toyota) offers that hard-top practicality, while giving round-about Miata/MX5 goodness to drive… probably.  If someone would allow some seat time in either, I’d be glad to confirm it myself.

In any case, Toyota had a recent “leak” for the upcoming drop-top BRZ-ish cars, to further remove differences between the Mazda and BRZ.  Where I see this going horribly wrong is that this concept was still geared toward driving enthusiasts, stating the platform was designed with a soft-top already planned for it– that’s good news, as weight and rigidity won’t be as affected.  Looking at the concept, though, I see two major problems with this enthusiast-first recipe

Traditionally, a list starts with one: the car in concept form is an automatic.  To make matters worse, the BRZ cars have an automatic shifter that purposefully tries to make it look like a manual, so they aren’t seen as lesser enthusiasts.  Given, the manual is a dying breed thanks to automatics and dual-clutch systems meeting or exceeding manual-tranny shift times, efficiency, and performance stats.  The BRZ isn’t one of these cars with such an automatic– one must have a manual to make the best of the car.  Having the convertible be an automatic brings the whole poser-car attitude full circle, which brings me to the second point: the cellphone.|

In the concept, there is the cars’ signature opposed-piston logo adorning the passenger-side dash.  A smartphone squeezes neatly between the piston skirts– a cool detail, I’ll admit… like car-part furniture.  However, while I realize the average buyer is prone to having smartphones, and wanting to play their MP4’s over the stereo, you already know how I feel about technology and the car.  This feature seems more like a fashion tool than a drivers tool.

The BRZ convertible, then, is the worst thing to come from the line.  It strays from the implied lineage of sporting character, and instead swaths the interior with white perforated leather, a slush-box transmission, and a handy little toy for ones smart-phone of the month.  But it won’t be the car the MX5 is.

Even if you bought the BRZ convertible with the manual transmission, and the seats were still black cloth, and the dash is still plain plastic, that’s not the point.  The fact that the concept– the basis of first impressions among the enthusiast public– is a European man bag, it doesn’t help the image at all.  What do you think?

Image source:
Motor Trend Car News: Wide Open Throttle

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