Scion FR-S Vs. Subaru BRZEnlarge Photo
Odd as it may seem, affordable sports cars aren't very popular these days. In fact, if it's a hardtop, rear-drive sports coupe you're after, your options are still quite limited, with the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and lower echelon of the Nissan 370Z range your best bets.
The arrival of the 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S have broadened the category at very fair prices, however. Being developed and designed by a joint effort between Subaru and Toyota (Scion's parent brand), it's worth asking: How do these near-twins stack up against each other?
In most ways, the BRZ and FR-S are identical. Aside from some differences in design and equipment, they're functionally the same car. First we'll look at these minor differences.
Aesthetically, the BRZ and FR-S both convey a sense of friendly, sporty attitude. Low-slung, with curving roof lines and slightly flared fenders, you'd be forgiven for not noticing the differences straight away. Up front, the FR-S and BRZ wear slightly different bumpers, the primary difference being the shape of the grille opening. Of course each also gets its brand-specific badges, but beyond that, there are essentially no visible differences, even inside the cabin.
That's not a bad thing, however, as Subaru and Scion have managed to pack in a lot of value for not much money--though again, here we have a difference. The Subaru BRZ starts from $25,495 while the Scion FR-S starts at $24,930. Both prices will get you a six-speed manual transmission, but the BRZ adds standard voice-activated navigation, an upgraded stereo, and Bluetooth hands-free/audio support. The Scion is less expensive, but requires an upgrade to get the same equipment, raising the price to about the same as the BRZ. The BRZ, unlike the FR-S is also available with two pre-configured trim levels: Premium (the standard spec) and Limited. The FR-S is available in a single "mono-spec" trim, with all options available a la carte.
The FR-S and BRZ also differ slightly in available exterior colors. Both are available in various shades of black, red, gray, and blue, as well as white, but the specific hues are unique to each brand.
Now to the similarities: both come with a 2.0-liter boxer (horizontally-opposed) four-cylinder engine with combination port and direct injection. The engine is rated at 200 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 pound-feet of torque at 6,600 rpm. Both come standard with a six-speed manual transmission and offer an available six-speed paddle-shift automatic.
Both the BRZ and FR-S are also rated at 22/30 mpg with the manual transmission or 25/34 mpg with the automatic, a consequence of their nearly identical equipment and weight (about 2,758 pounds with the manual transmission or 2,806 pounds with the automatic).
Inside, both cars are surprisingly well-finished considering their performance and price. While there are no expanses of Nappa leather or Alcantara, there are pleasing matte-finish trim pieces, soft-touch plastics, and a simple, purposeful design theme that suits the spirit of the car: no-nonsense sporting fun. The rear seats are even somewhat useful; full-size adults won't want to go cross-country in the back, but they won't mind going across town.
There is one minor difference remaining, but it will only be picked out by the true enthusiasts. Behind the wheel, both the FR-S and BRZ feel lively, supplying just the right mix of balanced handling and rev-happy power. But the FR-S will demonstrate a slightly (but noticeably to those with a nose for it) greater willingness to rotate--that is, to move around its central axis. The Subaru BRZ, on the other hand, demonstrates a very slight bias toward understeer at the limits. This fundamental difference is due to Scion's revised rear spring and bushing choices. While it may sway the true sports car fan one way or another, most people won't--and shouldn't--notice the difference.
On the highway, or cruising around town, both the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S offer surprisingly supple, comfortable ride quality, with quieter cabins than you might expect from a sports car. Again, this speaks to quality of engineering and construction, which might be expected from Toyota, but at this price point, is still impressive.
The bottom line with either the Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ is that you can't go wrong, whichever brand you choose, as they're the two newest, and in our eyes, best, entrants to the mid-$20,000 sports car market.
|2013 Subaru BRZ||2013 Scion FR-S|
|The 2013 Subaru BRZ shows that simplicity and leanness can provide more driving thrills than complex, high-horsepower sports cars costing several times as much.||The 2013 Scion FR-S is the real deal: a sports car, built simply, at an affordable price.|
|Read moreThe 2013 Subaru BRZ has classic head-turning sports-car proportions on the outside, along with some inspiring details inside.||Read moreA simple, classically-inspired exterior meets an equally simple yet modern interior in the 2013 Scion FR-S.|
|Read moreProvided you value handling over straight-line performance, the 2013 BRZ is one of the most engaging and fun-to-drive sports cars on the market.||Read moreFun, light, and rewarding to drive, the 2013 Scion FR-S is a true sports car, despite the lack of absolute power.|
|Read moreThe 2013 Subaru BRZ isn't such a good choice if you do long freeway drives, or value comfort. And think of it as a two-seater—that backseat is just a tease.||Read moreThe 2013 Scion FR-S offers a comfortable and well-made interior, but it's still a 2+2 coupe--don't expect to take the family for a trip.|
|Read moreThe Subaru BRZ handles well and has a full roster of safety equipment--plus it's one of the only sports cars that's an IIHS Top Safety Pick.||Read moreThe 2013 Scion FR-S is one of the only sports cars to be an IIHS Top Safety Pick.|
|Read moreThe 2013 Subaru BRZ is offered in only a few build combinations, but its reasonably well-equipped, and navigation comes standard.||Read moreWhile it's not loaded, the flexible approach to adding options for the 2013 Scion FR-S make it easy to build the car you want.|
|Read moreIf you want a sports car but can't bear the thought of guzzling gas, there's no need to shy away from the Subaru BRZ.||Read moreThe EPA ratings show the FR-S is pretty good on gas mileage, and you may even do better in the real world.|
|from $25,495||from $24,500|
|from $24,327||from $23,275|
|Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway|
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