By on June 26, 2012

A few weeks ago, I took a Scion FR-S out for a spin. It was an automatic dealer demo, so I decided to withhold judgement until I drove the manual transmission car.

Having driven one yesterday, my opinion hasn’t changed much. Alex has already reviewed the car, and Jack will have his upcoming track test (which is a totally different process altogether). As far as my impressions go, I drove it around some empty backroads and urban environments, and came away a little cold.

I really like the styling, and the cut-rate (ok, really cheap) interior is there since the car was built to a price. But the whole driving experience leaves me cold. One of the complaints about the Nissan GT-R was that it had “no soul”, or in less nebulous terms, it felt like a a very synthetic, contrived experience rather than an organic driver’s car.

It’s not that the electric power steering is a let down, or the engine is a poor performer or the suspension is tuned wrong. I think that the real problem is the massive hype surrounding this car and the capitulation that followed. When I told a few other journalists about my thoughts – journalists that I respect and trust when it comes to vehicle evaluation – they were incredulous. “How can you not like it? It’s amazing!” Even as I tried to explain my reasoning, they just weren’t having it. I asked another journalist (who does not wished to be named) about his review of one of the Toyobaru twins. It was a glowing piece, praising the car as if Christ has descended from the heavens. Apparently, his review was less enthusiastic, but some changes were made before deadline…you can figure out the rest. So far, the main critic of the car has been Evo magazine. I didn’t want to believe their assessment of the car, and thought it was more Euro-snobbery, but I can identify with their criticisms now that I’ve been behind the wheel.

WARNING: IMPENDING “ANTI-GM BIAS”. CRYBABIES PROCEED WITH CAUTION

The main problem, as I see it, is the enormous hype surrounding this car. I’m not talking about inflated expectations that require managing. In this world, it often manifests itself as a simple unwillingness to declare that the emperor is naked. Witness Car and Driver praising the Chevrolet Camaro for its “zip and grip through the gymkhana” and “fresh, inventive interior”, both of which we know are patently false. Or how about C/D these gems, which Ezra Dyer highlights in his own New York Times piece about the car

Camaro’s Zeta roots pay dividends, with the suspension striking a brilliant balance between lively, grippy road-holding and wonderfully compliant damping. Meanwhile, the SS offers decent feedback through the steering wheel.

Could it be better? Absolutely, but at least its deficiencies involve its interior detailing more than its dynamics.
—Car and Driver, March 2009

Then, just a few months later:

We wish Porsche had supplied the steering. Shades of Camaros past are evident in the slightly overboosted and overinsulated wheel.

The stiff, insulated structure soaks up engine vibes and tire moaning, but the rear end discombobulates and dances while accelerating over rough pavement.
—Car and Driver, July 2009

Ezra attributes the change in opinion to the notion that once something becomes popular, it’s no longer cool. I think that they’ve come out of the woodwork now that it’s safe, and they aren’t at risk of getting blacklisted from the gravy train. Most journalists will now tell you that the Camaro is irredeemable garbage, with the dynamics of a Crisco-doused hog and an interior that was dreamed up after a bath salts bender. I’ve always held that view (though the convertible is much easier due to actually having rearward visibility and a stiffer structure).

When I was a very green car reviewer, I gave the Camaro a poor review when it launched, comparing the windshield to an artillery pillbox viewport I’d seen on the Golan Heights. GM was not pleased. In the end, I was vindicated. How long until we see the tide turn for the Toyobaru?

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159 Comments on “The Scion FR-S And The Problem With Hype...”


  • avatar
    fiasco

    You may want to add “Automobile Magazine and NY Times contributing writer” before Ezra’s name, as it reads like you’re quoting something he wrote for C&D, when in fact it was Ezra quoting C&D to point out that magazine’s inconsistency.

  • avatar
    Botswana

    “When I told a few other journalists about my thoughts – journalists that I respect and trust when it comes to vehicle evaluation – they were incredulous. “How can you not like it? It’s amazing!””

    It’s a 200hp sportscar that sells for under $30k. The hype makes it sound like a $150,000 sports car that we are being “given” for under $30k. From what I’ve seen I think it’s good for what it is and I’m glad there is an “affordable” sportscar but I agree that some of the panting from the press is overdone.

    I’m very interested in the FRS or BRZ, and since I don’t want a “V6 Mustang” I may consider them in the next couple of years when I’m looking for a new car. They might make a decent midlife crisis mobile.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      “It’s a 200hp sportscar that sells for under $30k.”

      The problem is, with the right packages, you can get a “300hp sportscar that sells for under $30k”, and it’s called a Ford Mustang. And it is much improved in many, many ways.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        One is a blunt object and the other is a scalpel. If you want to win internet bench races, then by all means get a V6 Mustang and enjoy no hype whatsoever.

      • 0 avatar
        Botswana

        I was trying really hard to head off the “V6 Mustang” commentary that always crops up.

        Not everyone wants a Mustang. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the car, I just don’t want one. I’ve already owned a Mustang. I don’t want another one. I’ve also been badly burned by Ford products, so I won’t be returning as a customer anytime soon.

      • 0 avatar
        sastexan

        Don’t forget the Genesis Coupe, complete with 1.5 second turbo lag and traction control that cuts the gas enough the turbo spools down, then have to wait for it to come back up. Meanwhile, if you turn it off, the car is not responsive enough to feel in total control. But hey, it is fast!

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        > The problem is, with the right packages, you can get a “300hp
        > sportscar that sells for under $30k”, and it’s called a Ford
        > Mustang. And it is much improved in many, many ways.

        Yes, the dead axle is improved, the Chinese transmission, the Walmart-grade interior and the disintegrating propshaft.

        300HP. 114 mph speed limiter.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        “Not everyone wants a Mustang. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the car, I just don’t want one. I’ve already owned a Mustang. I don’t want another one. I’ve also been badly burned by Ford products, so I won’t be returning as a customer anytime soon.”

        Ditto. I had a Mustang, and that cured me of any desire to own another Mustang manufactured after 1970. Mine was the V8, too. It cost $7k more than a comparably-equipped V6 when I bought it, and was still worth $7k more than a V6 when I sold it. The V8 is always going to be worth thousands more than the V6 unless you run it into the ground, and if you’re going to keep it that long…you might as well get the V8.

        Unless you’re going to run it at 9/10ths on a track (and impress no one, because it’s a fat, base-engine Mustang), you’re stuck with a car that has a wretched interior, worthless back seat and trunk, a suspension that sucks in the real world and is readily available at every rental counter across the country.

        If you want a V6 Mustang, fine, go for it if that’s what makes you happy. But spare us all the crap about it being the end-all, be-all of budget performance.

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        FromaBuick6

        > a suspension that sucks in the rear world

        But wait. According to most journalists (=experts), Mustangs are never driven “in the rear world”. They spend all the time either on smooth tracks (where the solid axle “works”) or doing burnouts (when the solid axle “works”). At least these were two conditions under which Mustangs have been evaluated in some 90% of the tests.

      • 0 avatar
        donatolla

        The problem with the V6 Mustang is the V8 Mustang. Anyone who buys one will forever receive questions about why they didn’t go for the growl. That they caved. They didn’t have the coin.

        The FR-S/BRZ is a purpose built machine that really shouldn’t be expected to compete with a middle-age mom driving cop-out machine like a V6 Mustang.

        I personally believe that there are a lot of potential Miata buyers out that are breathing a sigh of relief now that there’s another small, light and cost efficient sports car that won’t be described as “cute”.

      • 0 avatar
        nrcote

        > the dead axle is improved, the Chinese transmission,
        > the Walmart-grade interior and the disintegrating propshaft.
        > 300HP. 114 mph speed limiter.

        > The problem with the V6 Mustang… They didn’t have the coin.

        About 15,000 kilometers on a 2012 V6 in eleven months.

        The Chinese transmission is a bit notchy when cold, very smooth after a few minutes. My ’99 Civic SiR was the same. The Walmart grade interior? I have the leather package (steering wheel, shifter, seats). Sure, it’s not “Rich Corinthian Leather”, but it’s very nice nonetheless. As for the top speed, I don’t track my car and at 114 mph on any highway here in Ontario, I’d lose my license… and my car.

        Why the V6 and not the V8? Well, as I said to the sales rep, “Just because I can afford a V8 doesn’t mean I want to”.

        You don’t like the V6 Mustang? That’s OK, you don’t have to. But spare me the BS.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Ha ha, you guys are funny, the tranmission in the Mustang is a Getrag making it a crappy german tranmission (did te chinese also design it?)

        Hah suck it Germany, I’ll take my sweet hencho in Mexico sourced Tremec!

    • 0 avatar
      lzaffuto

      In every single thread that mentions the Miata ever, about 20 or more people pop in to say “Why don’t they make a Miata coupe, I don’t want the convertible”. The answer is that the Miata is a convertible and the open-top roadster experience is part of the essence of what a Miata is. If you don’t want a convertible you don’t really want a Miata, you want a two door RWD 4cyl coupe. Toyota has now made a car for those people. This is a Miata competitor for people that don’t want the convertible top or don’t care about it. It’s nothing more and nothing less.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        There are plans underway for a convertible Subion FR-Z already.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Indeed. It is the answer to those of us too tall to fit in a Miata comfortably and who never cared for a ragtop anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        I have owned an NB Miata for the past seven years. For the first four of those years I had the removable hardtop on most of the time. It was on it when I fell in love with the car and decided to buy it. The convertible top gets used more often now, because I have covered parking and driving top down *is* nice. But a Miata with a hardtop is still a 2200-pound, low CG car with a willing engine, perfect balance and the best suspension and steering at its price point. It’s less open but more “tight”.

        The FR-S is a somewhat different animal; it’s wider and longer and more overtly Japanese in its execution (where the Miata tends to emulate something English). It’s more like an RX-7 with a piston engine. And perhaps that’s why Derek can’t find “soul” – it doesn’t have that one defining character like the Miata’s roadster thing or the RX-7′s rotary.

        Personally, the FR-S is the only new car I’ve been genuinely excited about – and impressed by – since the ’03-’06 Lancer Evolution. I drove it, and I did find soul and excitement, in that it did bring back all those memories I have of driving Miatas with hardtops on, 240SXs, and RX-7s with engine swaps. Those are the cars I love best and the FR-S fits right in.

      • 0 avatar
        Strippo

        “In every single thread that mentions the Miata ever, about 20 or more people pop in to say “Why don’t they make a Miata coupe, I don’t want the convertible”. The answer is that the Miata is a convertible and the open-top roadster experience is part of the essence of what a Miata is.”

        That doesn’t explain why they don’t build a unique coupe based on the Miata. Mazda already had the RX-8 (unfortunately), and designing/building niche vehicles is a rich manufacturer’s game these days.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Interesting.

    Although when reading auto reviews (and I devour them from a variety of sources) eventually all cars seem to be praised as Christ’s second coming or damned as not fit for the rental counter. (Unless the car happens to be a BMW… lol)

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      To be sure, unlike a select few journalists and bloggers, I’ve never driven or ridden in the Toybaru twins, but I’ve always held the impression once the photos/videos of the actual cars were released for consumption that the interior is more cheap than minimalistic.

      Minimalism, as in simplicity of the LACK of dozens of buttons, switches and dials, and clarity and purity of gauges can be good or even amazing in an auto interior. Volkswagen and Mazda have drive that point home in times past (the Golf R32 and MX-5 – NC, preferably with baseball glove leather trim – are prime examples).

      But I saw early on that the Toybaru twins weren’t minimalistic that way. One could tell, from the cut of its jib, materials used and textures, that the Toybarus were minimalism for a price point.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        I don’t think the interior is cheap and I say this after going and hunting down the car myself to sit in it. After reading so many reviews about how minimalistic the interior was I had pretty low expectations-after all, I had also sat in the other new Toyotas at the same dealership but when they took me out to show me the one FR-S they had I was actually pretty pleasantly surprised that there was what felt a lot like genuine leather trim on the door panel with the red contrast stitching, and the dashboard looked nice enough. I’m not saying that the interior was luxurious but for a purpose built sports car it had a decent interior. I certainly don’t think the interior is as terrible looking as the Mustang’s and frankly I can’t think of anything else in this class with a noticeably nicer interior except maybe the higher trims of the BRZ for obvious reasons.

        I didn’t find the interior out of place at all in a $25K car ($24K if you qualify for the recent graduate rebate apparently which does apply).

        And I’m not being a fanboy here, I though the Prius C interior just had way too much hard plastic (the same largely applies to the Prius though it was noticeably cheapened down even more for the C) and even though the Camry’s “stitched dash” looked terribly fake (though I don’t think that’s the criteria you should use to choose your car).

        But the FR-S pretty much hit all the interior points it had to…I sure as heck fit a lot better in the FR-S than in a Miata or S2000, the steering wheel felt nice, the seats were supportive and the few touch points were nicely trimmed with leather or passable pleather. I’m not sure what else you’d expect at this price point.

        Sure, the old S2000 when optioned up had way more leather in it’s interior. It also had a starting price $10,000 higher and I’m pretty sure the point of the FR-S is to bring sports back to a car everyone can afford so slathering everything in gobs of leather then charging 10 grand more makes no goddamn sense.

        No other RWD sports car in this price ranger has a significantly nicer interior so I’m totally at a loss as to why you would have expected anything fancier.

      • 0 avatar
        eCurmudgeon

        “But I saw early on that the Toybaru twins weren’t minimalistic that way. One could tell, from the cut of its jib, materials used and textures, that the Toybarus were minimalism for a price point.”

        I was under the impression the main reason for the “minimalist” interior was the rationale that since the majority of FR-Ss were going to wind up in the “tuner” market, why spend money on an interior that was likely to be stripped out anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      I don’t envy the car critics: after driving umpteen thousand vehicles, after being promised 1,000 new beginnings, it has to take enormous energy to get enthusiastic about anything that wasn’t built by nymphs or Jesus himself.
      That is the trouble: who exactly becomes a car writer? What were their motivations? That they ‘like’ cars? What lofty qualifications makes them a better judge than a guy off the street? Just because a person’s bum has sat in the seats of a 1,000 different cars, does that qualify them to judge? Or does it just make them cynical? What notions/pre-conceptions do they bring to the table? And how can you expect a guy who rides a BMW 3-series home every night to get excited about a Spark or Yaris? And with 90% of the vehicles sold in North America being sold as automatics, how can one trust a zealot who keeps preaching stick shifts to the masses?
      Considering many (if not most) of today’s current batch of writers were weaned during the Malaise Era and saw Detroit in all its horror, it’s no wonder only the latest Porsche or Audi gives them a woo… oops, never mind.
      The auto press has been a jaded lot for a very long time. I stopped reading most magazines and blog sites because it has all been said before. There is nothing original out there, and I can’t get excited about ANY of the most recent plastic marshmallows out there. No amount of high tech wizardry can convince me that these cars have any more personality than a wet dish rag.

      • 0 avatar
        masouds

        A perfect car critic must hate cars, and be on a quest to find the perfect one.

      • 0 avatar
        kuman

        i wonder if they brought back S2000, improve the handling, add direct injection and bump the torque output, cheapen the interior all out, ditch the electric operated soft top for the cheapest version of roofing or simply throw a hard top in. and sell it for the price of an entry level civic… i wonder what would the journalist said.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      And this, to some extent, is why Murilee calls this The Age of Boredom. None of these cars is really good enough or bad enough to merit whatever reviews turn up.

  • avatar
    99_XC600

    Never meet your superheros or idols. You will always be disappointed.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    When your reaction to the car is more about the noise around the car than the car itself, you’re doing it wrong.

    Go back and drive it again, and tell us more about your impressions of the car (beyond a vague “it has no soul”) and less about what other journalists or their editors may be doing.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      +1 Derek, you said “Having driven one yesterday, my opinion hasn’t changed much.” Well, what is your unbiased opinion?

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        so…sort of like when baruth trashed the new impala before seeing it. He also replied that upon actually seeing it he was right to disparage it.

    • 0 avatar
      spaceywilly

      Exactly what I came here to say. “When I told a few other journalists about my thoughts – journalists that I respect and trust when it comes to vehicle evaluation – they were incredulous.” Well, what were your thoughts then? This post reeks of a hipster “I don’t like things that are popular” way of thinking, which seemed to also bias the EVO article cited. You go on about how there is so much hype about the car that it doesn’t live up to, and yet you can’t come up with even a substantive paragraph about why? And you get paid for this?

      Maybe the reason these auto journalists you respect “weren’t having it,” and the reason you can’t seem to put your criticisms into words, is because you were biased by your hipster loathing of anything that receives mainstream praise and you never gave the car a chance?

      • 0 avatar

        Jack worked hard to produce a video detailing his Driving impressions. I drove the car he was testing. Out of respect for him I didn’t want to go too in depth but I said it in the article; I like the looks, the interior can be overcome but the driving experience left me cold. I felt it was disconnected and missing something, rather than engaging and brilliant, as many people feel.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        Half the fun of the driving equation with this vehicle was removed because you were stuck with an automatic.

        The part that you describe as “disconnected” was in fact the gearbox. Of course you’re going to feel left cold.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “The driving experience left me cold” is not very informative. Is the sound uninspiring? Is the powerband too flat, or just too weak? Does the car push too much/feel too safe? Is there not enough steering feel? I know you are capable of perceiving these things, and that’s the sort of information I want. I don’t think you’d be stepping on Jack’s toes at all to provide it. More perspectives are good for your readers.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    So this is anti-hype to counter the all the hype? That’s still creating hype over a car you didn’t really review, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      I wouldn’t say that just yet…

    • 0 avatar
      dan1malk

      grzydj is exactly right.

      TTAC writers tend to sit pretty high on their horses.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      This, and nathaniel’s comment that “anti-hype haters are as much a slave to the hype as the rose tinted glass wearing fanboys,” times 1000. It’s very easy for any of us to take a position on a car based purely on the hype, without ever having driving it – heck, we’ve all done that already. I read TTAC for an honest appraisal of the car itself; a page about the hype (half of which is quotes of other journalists writing about a different car), with a tossed-off half-line about how the car leaves you “a little cold” without any further explanation whatsoever, is about as useful as a misspelled anti-Apple rant on Engadget.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Automotive version of Facebook IPO?

  • avatar
    rickyc

    Interesting points Derek, I will keep this mind when reading Car magazines in the future.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    It’s a modest sports car at an affordable price. Nothing wrong with that.

    But I think we’ve lost sight of the fact that the car itself, although likely to do its job pretty well, was never the big news. The big news is, in an age when cars like the Camry and Corolla sell in the millions of units every year, that Toyota and Subaru actually developed a modest sports car at an affordable price, even though the volume is doomed to be pretty small.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Claw

      “The big news is, in an age when cars like the Camry and Corolla sell in the millions of units every year, that Toyota and Subaru actually developed a modest sports car at an affordable price, even though the volume is doomed to be pretty small.”

      Bingo. I had lost faith that Toyota would actually make something “cool” in this age of the rising yen and the “Volume or Die” mentality.

  • avatar

    In the internet age we have an amplified mistrust of those things which are most talked about. We gorge ourselves on more information than is necessary, or even healthy. So much in fact that nothing in this world can live up to the many articles, tweets, memes, forum posts, image galleries, video reviews we consume.

    We forget that there is one reason this car has so much attention, because the market has been crying out for a return to the affordable, light weight, and RWD platform that can be had without a drop-top.

    One thing to think about, anti-hype haters are as much a slave to the hype as the rose tinted glass wearing fanboys.

    • 0 avatar
      CurseWord

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Agree with @nathaniel that the BRZ and FR-S marks an important “return to the affordable, light weight, and RWD platform that can be had without a drop-top.”

      I am thoroughly enjoying the hype and anti-hype. Let there be more!! :)

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      nathaniel…

      Very well said, although I don’t think Derek was necessarily being taken in by an “anti-hype” syndrome: he was just pointing out some problems with hype.

      Your point about “market crying out” for this car is excellent. That is exactly what happened, which is maybe what fed the hype and high expectations in the first place.

      I agree with Evo’s cautions, and my similar response in a post was “Close but no cigar”. Why? Well, if these cars had come out with a real 50/50 weight balance by putting the transmission and battery in the back; and had provided 230 HP instead of 200 HP, they might have been a “world beaters” for $27-28K (just a little more). With those capabilities and price point, they would not merely fill a marketing gap; they would, I suspect, take some serious market share from Miata, Boxster, Cayman, and Z4.

      However, right now I do think they are a reasonable start, and perhaps some of what I am suggesting may be done in the future. Meantime, we’ll just have to wait for Jack’s video review. (^_^)..

      ————–

  • avatar
    stryker1

    I’ve been a doubter since the word “Tofu”. But now that the backlash is starting I will chime in and say it maybe unrealistic to expect the soul of a sports car for 25k, ignoring the fanbois. My question is, how does this thing compare to the recently eulogized RX-8. If its an RX-8 minus a little smoothness, plus a lot of reliability, that could be enough.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      It feels like a slightly smaller RX-8. I drove an RX-8 R3 (slightly used, less than 10k miles) the week before test driving an FR-S. The FR-S feels lighter and more nimble. It is not a fast car – Toyota and Subaru keep saying over and over it isn’t meant to be fast – go buy a Mustang or Genesis Coupe if you want raw power.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I like the looks of the FR-S/BRZ but I’ll take a slightly used S2K over the twins as well as the Miata and RX-8.

      And the funny thing is I’m not particularly fond of convertibles.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      I felt that the FR-S was about equally capable to the RX-8 and equally fun to drive. It’s a somewhat more “deliberate” car to drive – kind of like an STi compared to an Evo. The steering and chassis still feel great but it’s a car that rewards being thrown around instead of delicately placed. Of course the engine has a completely different character, it feels like pretty much any other naturally aspirated four with an 8k-ish redline, like the K20A or F22C. No boxer staccato.

      It’s a character that feels right at home if you’ve driven stuff like WRXs and 240SXs for most of your driving career like I have. I too would strain to call it a “true sports car” like the Scion advertising implies. However, it is the best interpretation of the 1980s-1990s Japanese sport compact ideals that I’ve ever driven.

  • avatar

    I did a 3 part video of the SUBARU BRZ. I was more interested in the BRZ than the FRS because I DEMAND a Nav system in whatever car I review. Yeah – it’s petty, but, demands are demands.

    You can see my 3 part video on my Youtube.

    I do a walkaround, a ride along with a salesperson (who demonstrated the car) and my own test drive.

    The BRZ/ FRS is a cool car and the build quality is exciting. What I’m interested in is a STI model or a homebuilt turbocharged version. My uncle and I handbuild and turbocharge FORD CAPRIs out of parts from Australia and crate motors. It’s a very rewarding experience and I’d LOVE to have a BRZ to mess with.

    The only way to get good acceleration out of the automatic is to use the shiftpaddles in sport mode. Even then, it’s still just 200HP. It really helps if you just wanna have fun driving – rather than racing people because you WILL get murdered by just about everything else in a straight line.

    Very few people will ever own (or even drive) a Nissan GTR. I enjoyed being in the BRZ more than I did when driving the GTR. You put a couple thousand dollars of work into this car and you could have yourself a 10 second car under $40,000.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Is “a couple thousand dollars worth of work” rocket assist?

      This car probably needs 400+ whp to go 10s. I’m curious to know how the engine internals, transmission and differential hold up to that much power.

    • 0 avatar
      Jordan Tenenbaum

      Do you get lost easily?

      • 0 avatar

        For me, a Navigation system is the mark of a “luxury” car. Luxury is subjective – but I’m a tech person.

        Aside from Navigation, I also demand heated/cooled/ventilated seats and a moonroof. I don’t care if the seats are cloth or leather, so long as there’s as much tech in there as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        sastexan

        But this isn’t a luxury car – in fact, it is the antithesis of a luxury car. The BRZ Limited has some luxury features (hence the nav, heated alcantara seats, auto climate control) but that’s as far as it goes.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      A Breathless-Self-Aggrandizing-Ad-Piece Says what?

      • 0 avatar

        Hyping/pimping one’s site on another site requires a deft hand. Nothing wrong with a little self-promotion as long as it’s done with style.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Only problem is, I saw no deftness or style with that self-promotion. Only posturing self-importance. “I DEMAND a Nav system in any car I review”… what is that?? Like I care about his reviews anyways.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        “Hyping/pimping one’s site on another site requires a deft hand. Nothing wrong with a little self-promotion as long as it’s done with style.”

        By that reasoning, I re-iterate my previous post.

    • 0 avatar
      mbaruth

      Thanks for this. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Seems to me the manufacturers charge a huge chunk of change for a mediocre navigation system. All a navigation systems says is that I paid for extra, often frivolous packages for a navigation system that isn’t as good as Garmin. Especially a hacked one.

    • 0 avatar
      MBsam

      Yeah nothing says luxury like a moonroof. Lol.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      I don’t know, but it seems that the BRZ/FRS would’ve been better served to have an absolute minimum of electronic nonsense. Screw the nav and all that heated seat trash. It’s all garbage sitting between you and the car.

      Would be nice to see them offer a complete stripper like in the days of old when you could get a car with nothing more than the pedals, a steering wheel some seats and a motor. No computer anything outside the engine bay.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The source of the “hype” is very often a manufacturer with an advertising budget when a new model launches. I have seen a lot of glowing first reviews that matured into criticism as time passes. Car and Driver has had comparos where a launch car wins and then comes in last in a follow up just a few months later.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, the obvious solution for a person in your business is to ignore the hype and approach the car with an open mind and no preconceptions, as much as possible.

    Since we’re not considering these cars as race cars (where the fastest lap time would be the principal criterion), subjective judgments matter. Especially at lower price points, all cars represent a series of trade-offs to meet the target price. How well those trade-offs work really depends upon what the reviewer values most. To be sure, there are some cars that somehow manage to be less than the sum of their parts, and others which manage to be more.

    I looked at the Evo review and have to agree with most of the comments. What was the point of putting an torque converter automatic (not a DSG, I believe) on a track? Of course, the driver is going to complain that he couldn’t position the car as confidently with the throttle, as compared to the FWD Renault. It seems like only engines with gobs of torque (like a big V-8 in, say, the Chrysler 300C) are able to transcend that problem when coupled to a torque converter automatic. The engine in the BRZ is the opposite; being of small displacement and normally aspirated, it does not have lots of torque and what torque it has probably comes in a fairly narrow peak.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      It’s a traditional torque converter, although it locks up pretty quickly and does some things like a DSG (blips the throttle on downshift for example). It really is a pretty good automatic.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    The FRS is the cheap version of the car, something similar to the WRX TR (Tuner Ready) trim that WRX used to have a few years back. That’s why the interior is cheap. If you go and drive the BRZ version which comes only in Premium or Limited the interior is more pleasant. The Limited even comes with push-button start in some cases.

    I’ve driven a BRZ this weekend. Sadly it was an automatic but it was still a very fun car. I really enjoyed it and I think with a proper manual it could be a good competitor to the current Miata. The only thing I felt missing was another 50-60 horsepower and it would be just right.

    I’ve owned an real Miata (NA) for several years and currently own a WRX. Imho, the BRZ is an excellent rendition of Miata by Subaru.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    About someone said it besides myself concerning the overhype. Thanks Derek.

  • avatar

    I have been pretty hyped about the arrival of this car, and your
    webzine is the only one I read.

    Is it the car’s fault if it has been overhyped? Please review the
    car on it’s own demerits and/or faults.

    With the yen in such trouble we are going to have overpriced cars
    from Japan. I guess I would like to give the makers some cred for
    cutting corners on the interior rather than sacrificing reliability.

    I have been told otherwise, but I still believe that the Japanese own quality. For myself, if there is not a “J” on the door, I can’t afford to drive it no more.

  • avatar
    L1011

    I’m very interested in the BRZ and certainly like the looks of it. Much like the article, I’m fearful that if I were to actually buy a BRZ, I’d come to regret it months later as the hype wouldn’t live up to the actual driving/ownership experience.

    Slightly off topic, which would you prefer, a brand new BRZ or a 1991-96 300Zx Twin Turbo for roughly about 1/2 the price of a BRZ?

    The 90-96 300Zx is the other car that I still drool over to this day. It’s tough finding one that hasn’t been modified/uglified with decent mileage for a reasonable price–I’ve been looking for several years. The owners of the TT Z’s often have delusions of how much their car is actually worth.

  • avatar
    Nate

    Question is, what will people pay for a more powerful version? Would people shell out $30k for a BRZ with say, 250 horsepower? Would it have to top 300? What would it take for this car to become a legend like Acura’s Integra or even Subaru’s own WRX? Hell, maybe I’m missing the point anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      “What would it take for this car to become a legend like Acura’s Integra or even Subaru’s own WRX?”

      Cost $5000 less.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        +1
        I don’t remember Integras (that weren’t heavily modified) being insane 400 hp monster cars…

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        To be fair, I don’t remember WRXs (that weren’t heavily modified) being insane 400 HP monster cars for more than one or two pulls on the dyno/trips down the drag strip/days on the street.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        I’ve never understood why people feel that a finely-tuned RWD sports car should be priced like a Focus. For what it’s worth, an Integra started at nearly $16k in 1990 (or about $30k in today’s dollars), more than 10% north of the Mustang convertible. A WRX started at $24k in 2001 (about $31k in today’s dollars), over $1k north of a Mustang GT.

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        The WRX cost the same as the FR-S when it debuted in the US, in 2001 dollars – just under $25k. A lot of people had doomed the WRX from the start because they thought there was no way people would be willing to spend that much on an Impreza, when the outgoing 2.5RS had been about $4k cheaper.

        Integra pricing was originally similar, though by 2001 there was a healthy gap since the third gen model had been out for seven years by then.

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        “I’ve never understood why people feel that a finely-tuned RWD sports car should be priced like a Focus. For what it’s worth, an Integra started at nearly $16k in 1990 (or about $30k in today’s dollars), more than 10% north of the Mustang convertible. A WRX started at $24k in 2001 (about $31k in today’s dollars), over $1k north of a Mustang GT.”

        You mean like the (msrp $13,500) 1990 240sx? Pricing it as such would make this car more accessible to the secretary crowd and not just enthusiasts, who don’t buy cars. The WRX shouldn’t even be on the buyer’s radar from a pricing standpoint. It is more versatile, capable, and has broader appeal, and has more value for what you get.

        If it’s ancestry is anything we are being led to believe (1985 Corolla GTS MSRP $20,300 adjusted), this car needed to be priced accordingly. I don’t buy the “finely-tuned” sports car arguement. It’s “finely-tuned” by virtue of being small and lightweight. The engineering that went into it will be used on other Subarus that can re-coup the costs.

        You want a legend? People have to buy the thing.

  • avatar
    herrgolf

    The author makes a good point: with the internet, there ARE no well kept secrets anymore. People who are savvy and in the know have multiplied in number and aside from cars, this applies to such articles of cultural literacy as music, etc.

    In many ways, it’s great; I’ve learned about cultural phenomena that I’d have not learned about before but for those people who have to be the coolest kids on the block, the internet has become a destructive, potent tool for cheapening culture.

    So now everyone who’s learned about the AE-86 Corolla (despite having been born in ’87 or whatnot) is all ga-ga over the new Toyobaru and this car is set to become the new ricermobile of this decade. That’s sad; that’s also what the author is bitching about, and he’s right in doing so.

    But really, who cares? I drive a 2000 Civic and will eventually get around to modding it: I don’t care if it’s declasse (although I have an eye for design and won’t trash it), there’s a reason these cars are popular!

    With that being said, there’s a reason the new Toyobaru is popular, too. Unless you buy a Miata, nothing fits the bill like this car, really, and unless you live in Southern Sweden or Northern Cali, having a convertible is useless (either too hot, rainy, cold, etc). I test drove a new FR-S and I WAS skeptical and I DID see shortcomings, but of all the new cars on sale today, this is one of the most honest and engaging. So let the trendiness wear off; this car is set to become a classic, loved by all who enjoy sharp handling and mechanical eccentricity.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I actually read through that copy of Evo, mainly because they compared the BRZ to an original Impreza Turbo. You can see what suckers they (and most British magazines) are for the older Subaru.

    As for what you can buy new today, there’s not much like the BRZ/FR-S so to aspire to be the first iconoclast (or negative nancy) may be a bit premature.

    A nice surprise at the end of that copy of Evo was the expose of a road I found quite by accident in the Scottish highlands once, though I was crashing around in a rented Daewoo rather than the fancy Mercedes that was featured.

    • 0 avatar
      spaceywilly

      I read through the EVO as well, and it worried me a bit that the BRZ might not be all it has been cracked up to be. As the owner of an “impreza turbo” (2002 WRX) and a BRZ, I can tell you the EVO writers are full of sh*t. Maybe it was because they got the auto, but their driving impressions did not match mine at all. The WRX is a great car, but it handles like a city bus compared to the BRZ.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Don’t forget they are looking at the older Impreza which while less firm was a bit lighter. My 05 WRX feels much heavier than the 2000 RS that preceded it. And the stock Impreza Turbo had slightly lower profile tires than the US cars.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The car is fine. You really have to look at the Scionbaru in the context of what has preceded it, how long ago that was, and what is available now. With all due respect to our young intrepid autoblognallist, he may not be old enough to really comprehend what this car is about.

    There’s nothing else like it available now. The specifications of the Scionbaru are very similar to the Datsun 240z, a car that is partly responsible for putting the British sports car manufacturers in their graves. Most of the guys who bought Z-cars were not interested in the muscle car offerings from the Big 3. And look now…history repeats itself. The Big 3 still provide muscle cars to those who want them at about the same price as the Scionbaru.

    At the same time, there are a lot of enthusiasts who realize acceleration isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and neither is complexity. A relatively simple car at a modest price appeals to the guys who had pictures of the Datsun Z-car in their high school locker, bought a Civic CRX after graduating college, flogged a rear-wheel drive Celica, or recall hauling their albums out o their Opel GT and into a dorm. And let’s not forget the six people other than Satch Carlson who like the Saab Sonnet, or the hangers-on who were mesmerized by the MGB GT.

    As a whole, that’s who this car is also about. The early 20-something drifter crowd is going along for the ride.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “At the same time, there are a lot of enthusiasts who realize acceleration isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and neither is complexity.”

      Exactly!. There’s room for everyone at the table. It’s OK to like this car, and a Boss 302, and a VW GTI (which by the way the true “enthusiasts” will tell you is fail wheel drive).

      Three very different vehicles that do what they were meant to do well. And let’s not forget most people don’t run a few laps at Laguna Seca on their way home from the office.

      We’re the twins hyped? No doubt.

      Do they deliver on their promise? I think so (haven’t driven one yet).

      • 0 avatar
        Alexdi

        I don’t see why we should have to choose. Acceleration is fun too. If this car were available with, say, a 4L OHV V8, it’d be spectacular.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        +1

        Funny, those are basically my 3 favorite cars and I am essentially cross-shopping them all. I have a GTI, love the Boss 302, and am very interested in the twins, just waiting for the local dealers to get a stick to demo.

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      I was there yesterday, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but you’re right. The FRS felt very much like my ’85 RX-7 and the other cars didn’t.

      It’s not perfect, and that’s why it appeals to me.

      • 0 avatar
        300zx_guy

        I loved my 84 Rx-7 GSL-SE, the first car I ever bought (it was about 8 years old when I got it). I don’t know what it weighed, but it was pretty light, and even though it only had about 130hp, it never felt slow, and the rotary was fun to wring out to get to most out of it. What a fun car, it was a mistake to sell it to trade “up” to a 1990 RX7 convertible, which was too heavy for its 160hp. If the FRSBRZ is anything like ’84 Rx-7, maybe it will replace my 300zx some day.

  • avatar
    sastexan

    Having put my money where my mouth is, I’ll give some detail as to why I bought an FR-S and my impressions for the past 10 days / 350 miles of ownership.

    For a true $25k, there is nothing else like it. Yes, a miata has a drop top and yes, a Genesis Coupe and Mustang have more power. And you can compare used cars to it ’til the cows come home. But it is a simple machine – a complete WYSIWYG. No turbos to blow, no weirdo electronics to go haywire (although some might argue the D4S has that potential), top notch build quality – indeed overbuilt, and lots of potential if you are interested in tuning / modifying (Scion’s big thing is PUSHING mods – as opposed to other manufacturers who lawyer up and deny warranty claims when you add an K&N). Visibility is good, the seats are comfortable, controls are within close reach, it is easy to drive (some hate the light clutch), power is plenty adequate (even though I’ve been trying to keep it under 4k RPM during break in).

    On the highway, it has road noise – insulation isn’t the best. The base stereo sounds OK and has great features but fiddly interface. There is plastic but the primary touch surfaces are very high quality, including the top of the door at the window. The engine is very mechanical sounding, no great V6/V8 staccato – but it’s a boxer – and it SOUNDS like a boxer. Steering is fantastic – great feel and feedback. I have not played with the traction control yet but plan to. And this car is essentially my daily driver in DC traffic (with the manual) – have an old Camry for people carrying duties (although my 4 year old fit just fine in the backseat with the jumbo Britax Boulevard).

    I’ve been looking for the right replacement for my Contour SVT for months – this is the right car for me – very different, but the mission is different than before. I intend to keep this car 14+ years as well. It will see some track days, but I’m not looking to win any records – just have some fun both in my mind-numbing commute and the occasional mind-clearing track day.

    • 0 avatar
      arbnpx

      I’ll also chime in as an owner. I’ve driven mine about 2800+ miles since the release on June 1st. I’ve taken it to autocross, on a tight 40-second course; I still have a lot to learn about RWD handling, but I was 2 seconds behind a 2nd-gen MR2 and a 3rd-gen MR2 with more experienced drivers, and that was with the FR-S still running the Michelin Primacy tires. It’s also a very good teacher for playing with oversteer; I was afraid that I’d spin myself out, being accustomed to FWD cars, but I only spun about 80 degrees, and by that time, I already knew that I gave it WAY too much throttle, and resolved to not go that far again. I had an instructor ride along, who was an Impreza guy, but also knew RWD cars, and he said, “Okay, I want to get one of these now.”

      I haven’t had a chance to drive many fast cars, aside from a 5th-generation Camaro SS, so I guess you could say that my expectations are well-grounded.

      I love the FR-S. It’s a return to rear-wheel-drive Toyota coupes, but the FR boxer engine layout also allows for the strange properties of the low center of gravity. The FR-S feels like it should’ve leaned over in hard cornering, but it barely leans over. The steering is communicative, and increases steering effort proportional to turning load; even if it’s not quite up to NA Miata or 911 standards, it’s far more communicative than a 1st-generation Scion tC (my previous car, which I still have, so I’ve been able to do A/B comparisons between the FR-S and the tC). The D4-S system adds some interesting properties, like the low torque spike between 2500 and 3500 that makes the car fun to cruise around, as well as averaging 35 MPG on the interstate in 6th gear (normally the car averages 27 MPG as long as you keep the air conditioning off). I’m perfectly okay with the interior, as I’m accustomed to the Spartan interior of Toyotas, though the leatherette door sills are a very nice touch, especially when cruising around with your arm on the door sill.

      Tada-san was right: this car makes me smile, but it’s also gathered nice comments from cruise nights, and from the autocross crew (even from fans of the Miata, WRX, Mustang, and even Elise). It’s not going to be a stats monster, but that wasn’t the point from the beginning. It’s supposed to be a fun, small, light, rear-wheel-drive hardtop coupe. I don’t even feel the need to modify that much, aside from wider 17″ wheels and a new stereo.

  • avatar
    afflo

    Ya know, the Honda Fit is the subject of constant rave reviews – I found it to be the must unpleasant car I’ve ever owned. I lost money trading out of it after 18 mos, but I was getting ready to move cross country, and was seriously considering shipping it so I wouldn’t have to suffer the drive.

    The new Focus has been lambasted for its PowerShift DSG – I commented to my girlfriend that it’s “An Automatic that I actully wouldn’t mind owning,” after renting one on a business trip. (she thought I might be ill)

    My current car has been given the cold shoulder by most automotive journalists and bloggers alike. After doing some comparisons and test drives, I found that it was the perfect match for me.

    I don’t hold myself up as some type of martyr for not liking the Fit, or for like the tC. Some things you like, some you don’t, for reasons that are as various as the infinite variations of human beings.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    I remember the hype about the Mitsubishi 3000 GT and its Chrysler twin, the Dodge Stealth. “Ferrari performance for one quarter of the price” read the initial breathless reviews. As time went on, the car’s excessive mass became constant bone of contention as it lost camparo after comapro. If the FR-S/BRZ lasts a long in the marketplace as the MX-5 Miata, then we’ll know if it ends up being all it’s cracked up to be. I suspect the lack of horsepower will be its downfall. The Nissan 240X was a delightful car to drive, but the engine’s relatively low power doomed it.

    • 0 avatar
      Ron

      I was on a long lead-time “ride ‘n drive” for the 3000 GT on the big island in Hawaii. One of the buff publications decided to take a beauty shot of the car on a highway hundreds of feet above the Pacific Ocean. Yep, you guessed it. The driver forgot to put on the parking brake. One less car for Mitsubishi to sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      People still buy those darn 3000GTs, despite their awful handling and bad gas consumption.

  • avatar
    ajla

    In defense of the car, people that aren’t auto enthusiasts didn’t know about it until commercials started airing. We wouldn’t have read anything about it if we didn’t spend time on auto sites.

    And, auto journalists are notorious for giving glowing praise on preview drives and then once the car is released having it come in 3rd out of 5 in a comparison test.

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      +1. It’s an odd phenomenon of the Internet age: people voraciously consuming as much information as they can about a thing, until they make themselves sick of it and complain that it’s ‘played out.’

  • avatar
    timlange

    Is this a “sports car”? What is a “sports car”? I don’t think Camaros and Mustangs are sports cars, they are muscle cars. Or is this a “sporty” car? I have a Solstice GXP, would I like this FRS? I know I don’t want the Camaro/Mustang, they are too big, too heavy, too much power for what I want. Similar cars for me are the BMW Z4, Miata, Audi TT, and maybe Nissan 370Z. Does the FRS fit in this group?

    • 0 avatar
      stottpie

      it fits in with a used Z4 or a miata. the audi tt’s interior is lightyears ahead. the 370z would eat the BRZ/FRS for lunch.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        I owned a 370Z. It would indeed eat the twins for lunch. And go for seconds.

        However, the fact that it was derived from a sedan platform prevented it from feeling like a true sports car to me. It was just a bit too ponderous.

        I’m hoping Mazda can get a new RX coupe out on the next Miata platform. A 275+ horsepower 1600cc rotary in a small sports car would really do it for me. Failing that, I will hope that they do a proper sports package for the FR-S/BRZ, with a bit more horsepower and some real brakes…

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Hands up, who has heard enough about this car?

  • avatar
    stottpie

    a bit disappointed about this review. seems like you’re just trying to be different.

    how can you compare it to a GT-R’s coldness? that’s gotta be the most absurd comparison i’ve ever read. The car is a blast to drive, hoon, and push to the limit. It has the best steering feel of any car under 100k i’ve ever witnessed. The only issues I had with it were the lousy interior, and lack of rear grip. Oh, and the fanboys are really giving Apple a run for its money.

    In terms of the Camaro, I find that the people who say it doesn’t handle well are not really experienced racers. The problem is that it is too big and too hard to see out of, and this creates an experience in which you’re afraid to push it to the limit. On virtually any track, and even with the V6 model, the Camaro is going to put a serious hurting on the BRZ/FRS.

  • avatar

    can’t we just wait for jack’s review?

    • 0 avatar
      dougjp

      I also wondered why this article existed now. A ‘take 2′ after Jack’s track review, with much more detail, was the obvious better solution.

      Personally I think the article shouldn’t be about this one car but about the ‘phenomenon’ that almost always exists when a truly new car is announced, and then what happens 6 months/a year later. TTAC could really do this topic justice, citing more quotes from the mags proving how different the reviews became, like the Camaro reference. To take it further, I recall years ago a great post about MT cars of the year and how much a POS some of them actually were.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    hype translates into free advertising, but with a risk, if the cars had been crap, Toyota and Subaru would have been dragged in the mud by the same reviewers. Look what they have done to the Civic, and yet it still sells well.

  • avatar
    b787

    “But it’s corners that make the BRZ special – even wet ones – with a beautifully poised chassis that talks to the driver through exceptionally communicative electric power steering.”
    -EVO Magazine, December 2011

    Six months later they criticise the car for being neither balanced nor fun.

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    I drove the car and it is excellent.
    Much better feeling than BMW 3xx/G37/Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
    It is not the car’s fault, that it is overhyped.
    200 hp is excellent, considering the price.
    I would prefer little more steering feedback, though the steering is great, very sensitive.
    The ride is more harsh than Hyundai Genesis coupe, what is no problem on short trips, but it can be a problem on long trips, but I am in my 40’, for younger driver, it is excellent.

  • avatar
    Oren Weizman

    Derek, I think where your review fails is giving us a bit more specifics about what you liked and disliked about the car. I have spent the last year or so around a friend who works on old E36s and I’ve seen him (as well as participated) in things as silly as shoving an S52 into a 318ti to tracking down some god forsaken electrical glitch.

    He ended up buying an Fr-S because it’s a combination of things he’s always wanted in a car that nothing on the market can presently offer. Mustang or Genesis ? They are great cars but nothing right now on the market can compare to slithering in and out of that little FR-S.

    Could the interior have been better ? Could more power have made it more fun ? Maybe if all we did was track it and bring it to shows.

    But we’d be way above 25K

  • avatar
    el scotto

    No. I’ve never driven either car but they are intriguing. 25K gets this ride and usually 60 months of car payments. For 25 k you shouldn’t expect leather, navigation, and I’m a stupid driver electronics. Since it’s built by Japanese companies it’s expected to last forever. It’s RWD car with a 4cylinder boxer engine that handles well. Sir Colin Chapman would’ve liked this car. Expect lots of happy owners; many shenanigans; and a huge tuner market. What more do u want for 25k?

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I’ve driven both the 6MT (coworker’s) and 6AT (Scion driving event) versions of the FR-S. The 6MT was on a WV country road and the 6AT was on an auto-x course. I thought it was a blast, particularly on the auto-x course compared to my 2001 Impreza 2.5RS. I couldn’t help but smile during both drives. The car was just so much fun to throw around and the chassis is very nimble. I’ve driven a CTS-V, M5, IS-F, etc and the power on those cars is impressive, but you quickly approach illegal speeds before fun happens. The FR-S is tons of fun all the time.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Derek, I generally like your commentary, but this goes too far into the realm of “It’s popular, so I don’t like it” territory.

    Is the hype overblown? Probably, especially if it’s coming from auto journalists.

    At the same time, sporty coupes, let alone cheap, rear-drive ones are pretty rare these days. If this thing lives up to even a fraction of the hype, the car’s a godsend almost by default. Moreover, like the elusive manual transmission, diesel station wagon and Ron Paul, the internet rabble greatly overstates the actual interest – these cars will be rare on the ground, a treat for those in the know, and might even have some collector value down the road.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Future quote from a car writer in ‘infotainment chips’ imbedded in peoples heads.

    “New cars suck today, why can’t they bring back the BRZ?”

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    And I dont think Toyota cares. Demand for this car outstrips supply… and will continue to do so until this time next year.

    They will need this hype as you can expect demand to fall off a cliff eventually but then they will have a turbo or supercharged or convertible version due…

  • avatar
    msquare

    I generally take the “performs well, no soul” comments with a grain of salt. I’ll determine whether the car has any soul when I drive it, thank you very much.

    I haven’t driven these cars yet, but I have owned two MkI MR2′s and a first-year Miata, so I do have a good idea of what a car in this class is all about. And even in this review I get the impression that this is a car I would definitely appreciate. They’re not luxury cars, so an opulent interior is a low priority. It has to be functional and shouldn’t be punishing. From what I could tell sitting in one at the New York Auto Show, they’re spot-on.

    I remember thinking a Miata was a step down from my MR2′s because it had a front engine but someone pointed out to me that the Toyotas were heavier and I would like the Miata’s balance. I did, but missed how the MR2 could be set up through corners. The MR2 also had a more accommodating cockpit. But it was a more expensive car in its time than the Miata as well.

    I’ll let everyone know what I think when I get to drive one. But at this point, so far so good.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    This thread reminds me of years ago when I first drove the 944. I dearly wanted to love the car. I’d read all the hype drooling over the thing. And I just didn’t like it. One of my bigger automotive disappointments

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Well, as the owner of a 944 I can attest that this car isn’t a match for it. Hell, I’m not sure it’s much faster than an NA 944, much less better to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        karlbonde

        Jack,

        I’m glad you put a word in here as I am anticipating your video review. Derek’s reluctance to spill the beans of your opinion of the car drew me into this discussion.

        When can we expect a thorough review of the FR-S? Is it BAD, how does it compare to the P-car, etc.?

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        So Jack, is it your opinion that a nice, fresh 944 is a better all around driver than a new FRS?

        Interesting point if so, because even nice 944s are not very expensive, you could have one and a regular daily driver for the cost of one FRS.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I drove about 40 laps in the FR-S on Monday and we filmed our impressions. The video should be ready shortly. As soon as it releases, I will start putting up the associated long-form reviews of:

        FR-S
        Genesis 2.0T R-spec
        MX-5 PRHT

        I am hoping the video is ready soon, it’s hard to sit on my hands here!

    • 0 avatar
      Grahambo

      Interesting that the 944 gets injected into this discussion. Different strokes, I guess, but I’ve been waiting years for a modern car to impart anywhere near the same feeling that my old slow ’83 944 still provides. I hoped — and have commented before (interestingly, as much as I read TTAC, the only thing that really ever moves me to comment is a mention of the 944) that — the BRZ/FRS finally might be the one, but perhaps that is not the case. That’s fine with me as I’m good sticking with the 944 pretty much forever.

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    I drove Scion FR-S and the car was much more fun than
    BMW 3xx/G37/Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
    I have never driven Porsche Boxster, can somebody compare(not engines) this two cars?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I never cared for that “no soul” comment, it is way too vague and in all respects cars are just appliances in the end.

    I wouldn’t mind trying out the FR-S in real life, after giving it a few spins in Gran Turismo 5 I found it to be a bit plain.

    Yes it handles okay, it goes okay, but it dosen’t feel as direct or crazy as the old AE86, a slower but crazier car, and its cheaper!

    In real life it probably feels a bit more fun, I don’t mind a cheap interior as long as it has buttons and that its comfy.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Bring back the original MR2 then I’d make my 1st appearance at Toyota dealer in decades. I would get bored with an FR-S in about 2 days.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Much of the hype surrounding these cars probably stems from RWD deprivation/nostalgia as much as anything else.

    Rewind back to 1990, and a normally-aspirated four-banger RWD sports car like the 240SX fastback generated a solid “meh” from reviewers. And they sat in droves on dealer lots, gathering dust, which is what I suspect will happen to the BRZ/FRS after the initial excitement wears off. Demand for cars like this is NEVER what the enthusiasts say it will be.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    So, V_nillaDude is a blocked word? Petty.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    The FRS is going to ocupy the same used car pantheon as a 240sx. The drifters will love it and intheory become toyota buyers later. Its true flowering will come in the aftermarket upgardes and in theory it will be a cult classic.

    Meanwhile just like toyota missed the boat on the MR2 they are missing on this. The MR2 may have been blalanced blah blah. but we dont all have highway 1 on the way to work/play.In this real world where 50% or more of driving is stoplight and highway you also need power. A Frs with great suspension and an STi motor would really be something, a category buster, and before toabaru are done we will probably dee a few of these. Either way its not going to be a big seller.

    As for the camaro, I tried one. The pillbox view and interior are all part of its charm, it is an event car, as in every drive feels like an occasion. Other than that it is a comfy sedan, not a sportscar, and it worst shortcomming by a long shot is the motor. the camaro V8 essentialy sounmds and performs like a rubber band vibrating in the wind. Its slow to respond, is thrashy and really not that strong untill there are some revs at which point one feels mechanical imabalance and pain. It shure aint no revy small blocj chevy, which I think makes the camaro miss the point almost entirely. But for the cartoon exterior interior and cushy ride it has nothing going for it. In other words a perfect cruisemobile for traffic and speed limit infesed highways.

    If you condider that many SUV’s are a style(lifestyle) statement, and given that in todays driving enviroment you dont need more on road performance than a decent suv has, then condider the camaro just a different take on the customised individualised non necessary suv theme. or you could say the camaro is really a 4 wheeled harley, objectively poorly performing evocative of some imagined youth mobile. All of which makes it a sales sucess.

    Me I hope one day we will see a rotary miata, cant figure why they dont build that.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    my son bought one and he likes it so much, I can’t get any driving time.

  • avatar
    replica

    Why does everyone keep saying “Well, it only has 200hp, but what can you expect for an AFFORDABLE sports car?” $24k isn’t affordable, given its power and build. Stop it. There are plenty of sporty cars that match the FRS/BRZ in price but are faster at damn near everything. V6 Mustang, even a GT, depending on how you option that BRZ. WRX, GTi, Genesis, Veloster Turbo, Fiat 500 Abarth and so on.

    The problem with this car is the price. That’s my biggest gripe. I’ve said that since before it was released. It needs to be priced right at $20-22k for a “base” model.

    Stop it.

    It’s not a cheap car.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Replica – what *you* don’t understand is that a vehicle on a bespoke platform is more expensive.

      This isn’t a high-volume econobox with more horsepower. That is really cheap. The WRX, the GTI, the Fiat 500, and the 370Z ALL borrow platforms from high volume cars.

      The FRS/BRZ, on the other hand, has a custom RWD sports car platform. Platforms are ridiculously expensive these days – hundreds of millions to over a billion dollars. When Toyota did the original sales projections, they were just hoping that the FRS/BRZ wouldn’t lose too much money. The car is a marketing expense.

      On the buying side, a custom RWD lightweight platform is *worth* $2k more. Unless you just look at the numbers, you realize there is a difference between driving a tarted up sedan or econobox and a platform built from the ground up to be a sports car. If you don’t get it, fine, but there is a reason this car costs more per unit of horsepower than those others.

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        Not all the platform here is bespoke. There is a lot of Impreza/Legacy in the chassis. The original test mules were shortened previous-generation Legacys.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        If it’s worth it to you, that’s great.

        I understand that developing a new chassis is probably the most expensive part of building a car. To say this is some sort of “custom” car seems a bit of an exaggeration. It uses a motor from a parts bin. It was developed across two different companies. I’m sure this chassis will be used for different models in the future. We’re not talking about a one-off race car here. lol. Or at least, the performance stats mask it’s racecar status well. If the illusion of exclusivity and “new engineering” is worth it to you, great.

        I’m just saying. It needs to be cheaper to make sense to the rest of us that don’t particularly care for the engineering marvels that crank out average performance.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        It absolutely uses parts from the bin in order to keep that platform cost down. This is probably one of the cheapest “new” platforms recently developed due to parts and engineering savings.

        But the point remains that the motor is in a different place, the suspension tuning is entirely different, and the driven wheel setup is completely different. Crash design and testing needs to be done – and a lot of that is new with different engine and passenger locations. This stuff is way more expensive than adding a hot motor to an existing vehicle. And the driving experience of a low CoG sports car is totally different from a sedan or front driver. To a whole lot of us, that difference is worth as much as fifty horsepower or heated seats or whatever option might be your personal preference.

        And this platform is unlikely to be used for anything other than variants on this vehicle. Subaru and Toyota don’t have any other use for a lightweight RWD 2-door beyond this car.

        Anyway, call me price insensitive, but I would never decide to buy or not buy a brand new car based on a two thousand dollar difference in price. It is ridiculous. New cars don’t make any logical sense to buy in the first place, so if you want to argue cost effectiveness, used is always a better option. Personally, if that two grand was killing me, I’d rather buy a used version of the car I like than a new version of a car is a few grand cheaper. I actually wish they had a $32K version of this car, with a supercharger and real brakes, but I’ll just have to wait and see if they do that, or if the only option is to buy TRD or tuner parts.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      Half the cars you listed (Mustang, Genesis, WRX) are more expensive, option-for-option; the others are front wheel drive and have the same or less horsepower.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        Genesis starts at $24k (274hp), Mustang starts at $22k (305hp), WRX starts at $25.5 (264hp), Camaro starts at $22.6 (323hp).

        For FWD competition, there’s the Mazdaspeed at $24k, the Focus ST at $25k.

        They all seem REALLY competitively priced against the FRS/BRZ.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        AKA – looking at power to weight narrows the gap tremendously.

        Anyway, it’s the same conversation that happens over and over again: if you think horsepower is the most critical number, don’t buy the car. You don’t need to repeat the same fact ad nauseum, that comes up EVERY single thread about the car. We all know it. Toyota said it. The car is not about the horsepower metric.

        Comments about whether or not it’s a good sports car, whether the driving experience is worth it, etc., are fair, but the horsepower argument is as dead as a dead horse can be.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        It’s all about that price.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        That’s like me saying an Audi R8 is too expensive because I’m not interested in paying more for a four door luxury vehicle. Or like saying a Raptor is expensive because I can buy a higher horsepower truck from Chevy for less money.

        The twins has legitimate assets – low CoG, true sports car seating position, apparently excellent steering, and a look that you won’t see replicated in your neighbor’s family car. Some people are willing to kick down a bit of extra money for those qualities. You aren’t. Fine. But those things cost the manufacturer money, so it’s not unreasonable to charge for them.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        I completely agree with everything you’ve just posted.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      Gotta talk about the feel.
      Haven’t driven one yet, but the consensus (and there are always outliers like Evo and Derek here) is that the shifter feels great, the suspension is perfect (IIRC, some have noted that 50/50 is only “perfect” on paper, and 53/47 actually works well in motion).

      The Genesis Coupe (and most other Hyundai performance cars) seem to be universally panned for the poor driving feel.

      If it’s all about numbers, then you’re right – the BRZ/FRS are pointless.

      Also, if you factor in inflation, then 24k IS cheap for a new car.
      A RSX type S went for somewhere over 30k CAD when new, IIRC.
      This one costs 26-27k for similar power, RWD, and a bespoke platform with an intrinsically low CoG.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “It needs to be priced right at $20-22k for a “base” model.”

      It probably would have been, if the yen had stayed around 95-100 to the dollar.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’d just like to know what makes the ’86 so special, I could go buy a used car of sorts that low, modestly powered, FR, and cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      Not sure. It’s a live rear axle car, which, if it were any other car, that would mean it’s trash and can’t turn.

      • 0 avatar
        msquare

        Good balance, last RWD Corolla, great engine in the 4A-GE, a 7500-rpm 16-valve 1.6-liter screamer that is still used in Formula Atlantic racing.

        The 4A-GE also powered the AW11 MR2 and the FX-16. But I think its simplicity and its rear-drive layout are the reasons it has its fans. Much like the last rear-drive Ford Escorts and Opel Kadetts in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        Replica – are you talking about the ’86? It has independent suspension in the back, not a live axle.

        And live axle cars can turn just fine, so long as they aren’t trying to go over bumps while doing it.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        Pretty sure it’s an LRA.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Unlike the rest of the E80 Corollas which went to FWD, the AE86 coupe and hatch were more or less new bodies and engines for the RWD chassis carried over from the E70 coupe, live axle and all. The high-revving zinginess of the 4A-GE engine made some waves at the time, but the cars themselves were largely forgotten as time went on, until a later generation of kids realized that a 2,200 pound subcompact with a good engine and a live axle was a gift from the Gods of Drifting.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @imag – AE86s are LRA, despite commonly held belief. Most people also believe IRS is better for the track. Wrong again. Over rough pavement, OK, but when comparing equally stiff IRS and LRA on jack’d up roadways, the line gets blurred.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        Ah – the AE86. I am pretty sure the original poster was talking about the GT86, the FRS/BRZ, the topic of the original post. I could well be wrong.

        I was not saying IRS was better for the track. I said live axles have trouble with rough surfaces, which is true. Most tracks are smooth by design, so LRA issues don’t generally show up there. I think that matches what you say later in your post, but I’m not sure.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @imag – If you’re going to haul ass on poorly maintained roads, a Porsche will dance around about as bad a Mustang GT. I don’t know why you would be, but IRS isn’t a magic cure for bad roads.

  • avatar
    msquare

    Want a rotary Miata? Find an original RX-7. No convertible top, but similar in size and weight. Also drank gas like a V8 despite putting out 100 horsepower and hardly any torque. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great car in its day, but the rotary’s fuel consumption let it down a bit. A first-year Miata is comparable in performance and is far more economical.

    Toyota tried to go back to the original MR2 roots with the MR2 Spyder but failed miserably in that there was absolutely no storage space save for a couple of tiny cubbyholes behind the seats. You drive a car to go somewhere and if you can’t carry at least a weekend’s worth of luggage in it, it’s useless. Both prior MR2′s had small trunks, but they were very usable. The MkI could take a golf bag easily.

    I can’t comment on FR-S vs 944 behind the wheel but I certainly can guess that the non-Porsche is much less fussy to maintain. Because virtually anything on four wheels is. I remember having the second-gen RX-7 and 944 on my shopping list when I bought my first MR2.

    The Toyota had an engine good for 7500 rpm without having to adjust the timing belt every 15,000 miles and delivered a steady 28-29 mpg. Only hot laps at Bridgehampton could drive those figures down. It could chase E30 M3′s on the track despite the huge power disadvantage. With fresh shocks, it rode very well, too. Much better than the slam-bang-pow of Trans Ams and Z28′s of the time.

    They eat miles like Panthers and are only let down by rust. So if you were to offer me a choice between a mint-condition 944 or MkI MR2 (MR2 virtually impossible to find, btw), the MR2 would win hands-down. As a black-on-black 1986 with 16,000 miles did in the summer of 1992.


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