It’s usually stricter emissions regulations that force automakers to discontinue their fun cars in Europe. However, the Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ will be discontinued due to upcoming safety legislation. It's called the General Safety Regulations 2 (GSR2) and is sadly going to put the final nail in the Toyobaru's coffin this year.
In e-mails to Motor1, both automakers have confirmed the rear-wheel-drive coupes are not going to be available on the Old Continent for much longer. Patrick Scheelen, Senior Manager, Lexus and Toyota Gazoo Racing Communications, told us the original plan to sell the GR86 for only two years in Europe remains in place. He went on to mention the company has no intention of modifying the affordable sports car to meet the requirements of GSR2.
Jürgen Ehlenberger, Subaru Head of Marketing Services and Corporate Communications declared: "After 2024, there will be no more Subaru BRZ in Europe. The sale of stock vehicles will take place in 2024."
The writing had been on the wall since December 2021 when Toyota announced the second-generation GR86 would be offered in Europe for just two years. To make the car comply with the new safety legislation, it would have to be "completely re-engineered." That's just not feasible from a business point of view since the GR86 is a niche product in Europe and just about anywhere else. The fact Toyota teamed up with Subaru to spread costs speaks volumes of how difficult it is to build a viable business case for a sports car. The same goes for the Supra, which is essentially a BMW Z4 coupe.
Assuming Toyota would do the work and spend the money to make the GR86 up to snuff, it wouldn't be the same car, or so we're told. Modifying the sports coupe "would detrimentally affect the dynamic character of the car" and "it simply wouldn’t be the driver's car everybody knows and loves." That's according to an article written by Joe Clifford for the official Toyota UK Magazine.
The GSR2 standard will prevent Toyota and Subaru not just from taking new customer orders for the GR86 and BRZ but the automakers won't be allowed to sell any available stock. It means the window of opportunity is closing since the companies will be increasingly reluctant to keep cars in their inventory.
The Miata Lives On
It's going to be a sad day when the Toyobaru bows out in Europe – including the United Kingdom by the way – but we do have some good news. Enthusiasts will still be able to buy the MX-5 after 2024. A spokesperson for Mazda has told us the beloved Miata is sticking around, despite being an older car.
As a reminder, the ND generation was unveiled in September 2014 with a fabric roof before the hardtop RF premiered in March 2016. Since then, the tiny convertible sports car has received two notable updates, the ND2 in 2018 and the ND3 in 2023. MX-5 Program Manager Shigeki Saito is promising "very cool" special editions are coming.
The Alpine A110 Survives, But With Limited Availability
The GSR2 implementation is going to impact the availability of another fun car in Europe. In an interview with Autocar last year, Alpine's vice president of engineering Robert Bonetto said the car is not compliant with the new active safety homologation standards. Consequently, the Renault-owned brand says "options for European sales will be limited." Echoing the statement made by Toyota, Alpine argues it would be cost prohibitive to modify the A110, adding that costs would not be amortized by the end of the car's production run in 2026.
Seeing the glass half full, the Alpine A110 is not going away completely in Europe. There is a special two-year exemption from the rules that allows the company to sell a maximum of 1,500 units annually.
The Gas Porsche Macan Is Also Being Retired In Europe
Another notable death in Europe this year, albeit not of a sports car, is the first-generation Porsche Macan. The gasoline-fueled crossover is bidding adieu since it doesn't meet an upcoming GSR2-related cybersecurity law, which is also coming into effect in July. A couple of weeks ago, Ben Weinberger, Spokesperson for Macan and Cayenne, declared in an e-mail to Motor1:
"In the European Union and some states that apply EU legislation, the combustion-powered Macan will not be available indefinitely. The main reason for this is the General Safety Regulation of the European Union (including cybersecurity), to which the platform will not be converted. Any models that do not meet these requirements will no longer be eligible for new registration in the EU after the beginning of July 2024."
This applies not only to the Macan with an internal combustion engine, but to all models from all manufacturers, and this regardless of whether it is an e-vehicle or one with an internal combustion engine. As a result, sale of the Macan with an internal combustion engine is expected to be discontinued in the EU during the spring, thereby ensuring that the vehicles can be delivered to customers and registered by the deadline. In regions where the relevant EU legislation is not applied, the Macan with an internal combustion engine can remain available for longer."
What Is GSR2?
The first phase came into effect on July 6, 2022, when the EU stopped providing type approvals for cars that didn't meet the standard. The rules will extend to all new vehicles from July 2024, so the clock is ticking. It's not just cars, but also vans, trucks, buses, etc. According to vehicle engineering, test, and development consultancy company Horiba Mira, cited by Autocar, GSR2 represents a "massive list of 100 or so regulations, depending on vehicle category. Some are amendments, but we've identified about 20 to 25 items that are new."
One of the items that will become mandatory from July 2024 is going to be the Event Data Recorder, colloquially known as a black box. It'll record five seconds before the crash and 0.3 seconds after the impact, while analyzing the car's speed, braking, position, and how the safety systems work, including the emergency call function. The latter is known as eCall and has been mandatory in the EU since April 2018.
The European Commission's factsheet (available here) details the new safety measures, varying from lane keeping assistance and tire pressure monitoring system to an emergency stop signal and attention warning in case of driver drowsiness. Additional measures will be implemented until July 2029, such as improved safety glass, advanced driver distraction warning, longer-lasting tires, and "improved direct vision to better see cyclists and pedestrians."
We can safely assume that cars will become even more expensive in Europe. The addition of new hardware and software to comply with regulations will undoubtedly result in higher costs for the automaker, which will then be passed on to consumers. We believe smaller vehicles are particularly at risk, as the integration of extensive safety technology might render them too expensive.