Spied: Subaru BRZ STI Prototype Laps Nurburgring

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Photos of a prototype car lapping the Nürburgring provide the latest clue that Subaru may be working on a hotter BRZ STI coupe. The Subaru BRZ seen here has several upgraded components that indicate the car may have been tweaked by in-house tuning arm STI.

The Subaru BRZ seen on the Nürburgring wears new wheels with STI center caps, STI-labeled brake calipers, larger dual exhaust tips, a large rear wing, and a new body kit that includes new side skirts and a front splitter. It's important to note that the hood doesn't bear a big scoop -- this car probably doesn't have the long-rumored factory turbocharged engine. Performance modifications here seem to be limited to chassis and exhaust tweaks. The latter could improve output over the 200 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque offered by the 2.0-liter flat-four in the Subaru BRZ.

It's worth recalling that Subaru has shown off its own concept version of a BRZ STI. Introduced last fall at the Los Angeles auto show, the Subaru BRZ STI had new 18-inch wheels, stiffer suspension components, a larger rear wing, quad exhaust tips, and a new front fascia with more prominent air intakes. So far, that concept car hasn't been confirmed for production.

Our source says that this BRZ STI prototype was accompanied by a large contingent of Subaru engineers near the 'Ring, indicating that the car is indeed a factory effort rather than an aftermarket tuning job. We're hopeful this bodes well for the introduction of a hotter BRZ STI model down the line, or at least some performance parts offered directly from Subaru dealerships.

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