Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S, the Everyman's BMW 1M?

Auto journalists have been all abuzz about the new 2013 jointly-developed Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S. It has been lauded not for its outright power, but instead, for the feedback it communicates to the driver.

Like we have seen late last year, the limited-production 2012 BMW 1M was covered to death by journalists. That car embodied everything auto enthusiasts want out of a car. And the little BMW's overdone coverage was because we are seeing fewer and fewer lightweight, rear-wheel-drive, responsive and plainly fun-to-drive cars.

However, it has not been until now that we are seeing a similar phenomenon. The BRZ and FR-S (which are completely identical cars, with no difference other than badges) are receiving a great deal of attention from auto publications all over the globe.

Unlike the 1M, the small, Japanese "driver's car," can be afforded by nearly anyone. It has a base price starting at $24,930 for the Scion and $25,495 for the Subaru respectively. (I know which one I'd get, especially if they're the exact same car!)

The BMW was sold in limited numbers for a base price of $47,010 (for which, the car is now sold out see here!) That's nearly twice as much as the Scion! Certainly, with that $40-grand+ price tag, you get BMW's newly developed twin-turbo 3.0-liter in-line six cylinder motor that is 135hp over the FR-S/BRZ's puny 200hp boxer four cylinder. But again, you must keep in mind power isn't the FR-S/BRZ's forté, and nor is it meant to be.

Driver connection is where the FR-S/BRZ is meant to excel; just watch Scion Chief Engineer, Tetsuya Tada explain to you in the video above! At this point if you've watched any video reviews of the Scion FR-S or the Subaru BRZ, you probably have noticed journalists pointing out the car's ridiculously low center of gravity, thanks to the boxer engine, which in turn, can be set so low thanks to the car's rear-wheel-drive layout. In a video I watched in fact, it was noted that the driver and passenger sit a mere 23 centimeters above the ground.

So after all this talk about the car's specs, it appears the Scion/Subaru is a rather competent track-day car as well, (despite performing poorly this past weekend at the famed German Nürburgring with a result of 85, 96, 114 and 119 out of 148. See for yourself!) Hopefully this does not serve to dash Toyota/Subaru's ambitions for the future of their platform as a viable race car, the FR-S/BRZ only is the tip of the iceberg for more to come and the cars sell well enough to make other auto manufacturers realize there actually is a market for fun cars.

Who woulda' thunk it, right?

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