On the JDM car scene, not since the coming of Godzilla has the internet been as electrified by steel and rubber.
When the Nissan GT-R
, or R35 prototype, was unveiled in 2005, the news and pictures went viral. A few years later, in 2008, news of a light-weight, rear-wheel-drive compact performance car rekindled the Japanese performance-car fire.
As pictures began circulating, prototypes began rolling. When Akio Toyoda (aka Mr. Toyota) said, in not so many words, that his new baby was going to ignite driving passion, enthusiasts the world over collectively began salivating at the very thought of driving the car.
He was talking about the new Toyota GT86 (Scion FR-S
in North America) and consequently, the equally new Subaru BRZ
With social media and affordability as key elements in the Subayota’s aura, the interest, buzz and questions surrounding these two cars are both huge and numerous. We thought we’d help out.
We’ve now spent a considerable amount of time with both cars on the track and road, and compiled the following real variations between these two phenomenal cars.*
|2013 Subaru BRZ vs. 2013 Scion FR-S (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
First things first: the idea for this car was Subaru’s. Subaru may have gone to Toyota for some styling ideas, however, the car could have looked like a Loyale or an XT as far as we’re concerned and it would have still been as impressive from behind the wheel. As well, Fuji Heavy Industries builds these cars at Subaru's Gunma Main Plant.
Yes, both cars are essentially and mechanically difficult to tell apart. Both feature the same running gear, but it’s in the way that some components are tuned that differences become apparent.
The FA20 2.0L on paper produces an even 200 hp. In our tests, the BRZ managed better 0-100 km/h times and felt livelier on the road course. Most testers felt the throttle more eager following right-foot inputs.
Exhaust notes were very similar overall. We picked up a louder rumble at tick-over from the FR-S whereas the BRZ (especially on track day) wailed harder and deeper at wide-open throttle.
Road and track
|Both models share the same engine FA20 2.0 liter 200 hp. (Photo: Lesley Wimbush)
The most significant difference between the two cars is in the way the suspension is tuned. Scion/Toyota honed the 4-wheel, fully independent, front MacPherson strut and rear double-wishbone suspension for track use. Its calibration creates turn-in that's on par with some of the best cars in the business.
The BRZ’s ride is more compliant -- not comfortable -- but better suited to country roads. It exhibited more lean and roll on track day. The resulting different state of tune mildly affects steering response. It’s still telepathic, but turn-in is ever so slower.
The remainder of the differences are aesthetic
The most obvious disparities are right up front. The only physical parts of the car that do not have the same molds are the front bumpers. The BRZ’s has a nicer front grille with horizontal bars and LED daytime-running lights while the FR-S’ fascia is spotted with egg-crate/honeycomb-like meshing. The BRZ’s headlight housings are blacked out for a little attitude and include LED accent lighting.
On the inside, the FR-S features a gear indicator. The BRZ does, however, have vanity mirror lights and offers some nicer finishing touches such as carpeting on the inside of the trunk lid.
Price, badge or calling?
|The BRZ’s has a nicer front grille with horizontal bars and LED daytime-running lights while the FR-S’ fascia is spotted with egg-crate/honeycomb-like meshing. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
The BRZ is pricier, in its basic form. The reason is simple: It has more standard kit (such as navigation and HID headlights).
As far as badging is concerned, some will say that a RWD performance coupe has nothing to do with Subaru. On the other hand, we’ve heard comments from people who would not buy an FR-S simply because it’s a Scion…
Either way, the cars are extraordinary. It comes down to the following: The FR-S is a road-prepared track car and the BRZ is track-ready road car.
*We do realize that the sampling of one BRZ and one FR-S may not be entirely representative of a complete comparison.