By on February 19, 2014

2013_Scion_FR-S_--_2012_NYIAS

The Scion FR-S – lightweight, affordable sports car that the world was supposedly waiting for – is reportedly lagging behing its sales targets across the globe, making it difficult for Toyota to justify upgrading the engine or bringing a convertible to market.

Speaking to Auto Express, Toyota Europe R&D head Gerald Killman said

“A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people’s wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify a business case to push either model into production based on the current sales.”

Killman also reportedly expressed befuddlement over the car’s cool reception in the market, depsite enthusiastic reviews, not realizing that this is exactly the problem. Enthusiasts, like automotive journalists, don’t buy new cars. Even though they clamored for a new rear-drive sports car that was relatively affordable, gearheads still found fault with all sorts of things, from the lack of power to the less than impressive numbers it put up and even the sub-$25k pricetag (according to some, it should have been around $20k). If this car suffers an unnaturally short lifespin, there will be plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the same people who criticized it and never bought it in the first place.

This is also a particularly tough time for a youth-oriented sports car to exist in the marketplace. Car ownership for the FR-S’ target market has become a faraway dream in Europe, a relic of an idea in Japan and a luxury in North America. Personally, I think the car was a victim of too much hype. The Toyobaru could never measure up to the effusive praise heaped on it by the media, though I have grown to like the car more and more as time goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

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331 Comments on “Slow Sales Of Scion FR-S Disappoint Toyota, Jeopardize Engine Upgrades...”


  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Arguably an “upgraded” engine should have been offered from day one. 200 hp, and a derth of torque have been brought up as shortcomings of the Toyobaru early on.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Read my mind on the engine. I’m not sure which segment this is meant to compete in, but as a roadster it has limited appeal and as a pony car well Mustang has that segment sewn up. I think a hardtop convertible would be cool but I doubt conv sales would justify the cost. Why not crank out a nicer version (Lexus?) and offer something ridiculous like a V8/manual?

      • 0 avatar

        I am sure that cost, fuel economy and emissions targets served to neuter this car from the get-go, power-wise.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Cost probably did it in before the project started. This car may have made more sense as the new Lex SC in N.A., then at least your cost issues are somewhat lifted.

        • 0 avatar
          krayzie

          I’ve read somewhere before that this engine should be able to deliver another 30hp if it wasn’t for emission targets. Looks like they got around the fuel economy bs by fitting Prius tires. In terms of cost this car wasn’t designed to make money to begin with so that’s moot.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          “I am sure that cost, fuel economy and emissions targets served to neuter this car from the get-go, power-wise.”

          Seriously, if only they could have used side draft carburetors and left out the power windows and locks that make cars so expensive and add so much weight.

          But where they really screwed up was not making it a diesel wagon with AWD for $15K.

          Kids these days. . . I can remember when 100 HP/Liter was not considered neutered.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            I’ll also add that it would be super easy to dump one of the Subaru turbo flat-4s in the engine bay. Hell, they put one in the Forester, why not the actual sports car. But the rear suspension probably cannot handle the full power of the turbo flat-4s. The Toyota engineers famously described the Subaru rear suspension as “weak and terrible”.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            See, I just bought a new car, and the BRZ was on my list, at the very beginning.

            I didn’t want an RWD WRX. But I drive “required to rev to make even paltry amounts of power” car, which was why “uplevel engine” was on my list of requirements. Again, not WRX level, but a 220 hp, 230 torques turbo in the BRZ would have made it VERY hard to resist. In its current form, the BRZ was quickly scratched off the list.

            In the end I wanted a 2.0T or a 3.x L V6.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            I can remember when 100 HP/VEHICLE was not considered neutered.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “In the end I wanted a 2.0T or a 3.x L V6.”

            So you got a Genesis Coupe?

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            No, I ended up going to a completely different segment.

            My original list included the BRZ and Lexus IS250 in the RWD category, Legacy in the AWD category, Accord V6 coupe in the FWD category.

          • 0 avatar
            Charlie84

            Where did you read that Toyota engineers famously described the Subaru rear suspension as “weak and terrible”? I’d be interested to read that article.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Various car sites, Google:
            Subaru Toyota “weak and terrible”

          • 0 avatar
            kenwood

            That happened to me too. I was initially looking at the BRZ but I ended up getting an Escalade instead. Stupid Toyobarus!

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            +1 Kenwood.

            Also, unless anyone is seeing contrary reports on the forums the FR-S/BRZ rear suspension is fine for the power it has. I am just pointing out that Toyobaru may have reasons for not offering a turbo version other than hating freedom. And the low weight they achieved is amazing.

      • 0 avatar
        frozenman

        Absolutely correct! Subaru/Toyota can put this turbo engine in an Impreza/Forester chassis but can figure out how to do it in this car? If you have to, put a ‘power dome’ hood on it fine, but get it done already!! How can I buy this car and look my Camaro SS driving brother-in-law in the eye? How about stretching the body a smidgen and put the H6 in it, jeez!

      • 0 avatar

        I would have bought one had the greenhouse been a bit higher (hard to see out of, and not enough headroom for me) and if the back seat had been slightly more usable. My sister did buy one (she’s shorter than I, and it’s just one of four or five cars that her family has; I have but one car) and she loves it.

        It IS a wonderful car to drive, and IMO there is plenty of power. I don’t need to launch myself into earth orbit.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think it should have been convertible from day one, just like the Miata, which lots of people have been buying since 1990.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      The FR-S/BRZ/GT-86 has been from the get-go about the ‘feel’ of a fun, sporty car, and harping on numbers entirely misses the point. Perhaps a modest bump in power and torque might help things, but I think fettling the power delivery and the torque curve would be more effective in making the car feel ‘right’. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard and most off-putting was the infamous ‘torque-valley’ in the midrange, how could Toyota have signed-off on that when it first came off the dynos?

  • avatar
    Zammy

    Maybe sales wouldn’t be lagging if it had come with a better engine to begin with? Sales would have been completely different if the manual transmission version had pulled in sub 5.0 0-60 times.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      A car that quick would also either be forced into a different price bracket, or completely lose its character – it’d probably be something closer to the V6 Mustang that’s practically the Godwin’s Law of FR-S discussions (and also, a car that sells quite a bit better).

      I’d posit it’s not so much the engine that’s the fundemental problem, it’s that the general public does not want a sports car, and the compromises that go with it (the FR-S is tiny inside to start with). The general public wants a “sporty” car at best, at worst, they want another damn crossover.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        100% on mark. It is a very small car… considerably smaller inside than the mustang. That slices the market dramatically. Small also doesn’t scale with cost. The 20% smaller FR-S isn’t going to be 20% cheaper than a Mustang. Market is again sliced smaller. On paper, it isn’t amazing. Much like the Miata, it isn’t going to bolster anyone’s ego “curbside”. It is hard to assign a number to the “pure sports car” category.

        I’m still planning on picking one up this fall.

        • 0 avatar
          darex

          It’s both impractically small and spartan. The lack of creature comforts and up-to-date infotainment and such are also a turn-off for many. The two together make for a pure driver’s car, but that’s not necessarily good as a daily-driver. It’s really no wonder sales are poor, considering. It’s fine if you can have a “weekend” car, as a second vehicle. It’s a tough sell as a sole car.

          • 0 avatar

            IMO the lack of infotainment is an advantage. And, I don’t mind the spartan; in fact, I probably prefer that. But inside it is tiny. RX-8 size inside would have been better. Then I probably would have bought it.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Yeah, it definitely compromises comfort and convenience. I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford a single family car and plaything cars for both myself and my wife (and the desire for a plaything car, for that matter). I imagine there aren’t a lot of buyers out there like us, though.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            David C. Holzman, I have an RX-8, and I’ve driven the FR-S, and I prefer the RX-8. If I had the decision to do again, I’d still pick up a used RX-8 instead of the FR-S.

          • 0 avatar
            Cubista

            I don’t even think it’s the lack of power or the poor quality of the interior and appointments that’s killing the sales of the car…it’s that they’re charging SO MUCH for it. They complain about not meeting their sales projections, but in my market (Atlanta, GA) they’re still pricing new (as in “unbought 2013’s”) at over $26k. The 2014’s are close to or exceeding $30k. FOR A SCION. The BRZ’s are priced well into WRX Premium/Limited range.

            They’re crazy if they think real world drivers will pay that for 200hp and 1980’s-era Honda CRX interiors. Ford has them undercut not once but TWICE with the Focus/Fiesta ST lines…the Focus will blow it off the track and the Fiesta is close enough as to make no odds (though with the Mountune upgrade I have no doubt that the Fiesta would top the Toyobarus with little effort).
            You can SAY that they are fundamentally different cars and you’d be correct, but Ford gives you more for less, and ultimately in the current economic conditions that is going to hit home with even the most enthusiastic of buyers. The people who want this car the most are waiting for them to be sold used; the people who want a good “new” car that does a lot for what they pay are staying away as a matter of principal.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Probably that’s one reason. By now it has almost become an internet meme:

      Civic SI beats Toyobaru on the track. Then Mustang V6, Miata, and Ford Focus ST. And then, there is the inevitable comparison to V6 Camry on the straight line. This doesn’t seem great for a reputation of a “sports car”, even a cheap one.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        That’s a silly comment.
        If you watch the video review (I believe it was from Autoguide or something – it was posted here awhile ago) – the Civic SI was not a normal SI – it was the High performance package (HFP?) with sticky summer tires and a host of upgrades.
        Still, it only managed to eke out a bare 0.1s win (IIRC) over the completely-stock BRZ.

        Go read up MT’s article on how much the car changed when they swapped out the tires. It beat the MazdaSpeed 3 and WRX (cars which the BRZ had no business competing with if power/torque numbers are everything).

      • 0 avatar
        noxioux

        Anyone who would pick a Civic over a BRZ/FRS needs to have their aesthetics checked immediately.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          That is one of the things I feel that is overlooked in the “value” part of the equation. Yeah, for a couple thousand more, you can have a WRX. A WRX will never, ever, ever, ever look like a sports car. It is pretty cool looking for a sedan… but that sedan shape isn’t going to raise my heartrate. The twins are simply the most beautiful cars that you can buy for under $25k. Aesthetically, they have their weak spots (taillights, wheels), but in general, it is gorgeous. If you could hypothetically have the practicality of a WRX sedan, the engine, AWD, etc but it looked just like a BRZ, how much more would you pay for the “option” of your sport sedan to look like a sports car? Considering I spent $1300 on the factory aero kit on my MKV GTI, I’d say the look is worth at least a couple grand.

  • avatar
    CrapBox

    I’m waiting for the station wagon version.

  • avatar

    The FRS still sells about as well as the VW GTI, no? here are FRS sales figures, GTI ones escape me.

    http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10766

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I doubt a better stick would have sold that many more cars very few folks but sticks, maybe it is just the wrong time for it.

  • avatar

    I’ve been saying this from day one. Don’t overhype slow cars.

    200HP means exactly what it says.

    This is a poor man’s GT-R.
    A car for college students, saddled with student loan debt, stuck in mom’s basement at the tender age of 30.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Give me a break. I make well over six figures, and the fact that I do not want to mortgage my future for a GT-R does not make me “poor”.

      A 250 horsepower FR-S / BRZ STI with real brakes and the chassis upgrades from the Subaru tS would likely be just under $40K, and it would occupy a nice niche in the market, $20K less than even a base Cayman, and 500 lbs. lighter than the boat of a Mustang.

      Unfortunately, Derek is right; that there are not enough car enthusiasts left actually buying sports cars. The slow sales of this car and the Cayman make it unlikely that there will be many more companies building them.

      • 0 avatar

        There are car enthusiasts left in the 20 to 60 age range but they are more attracted to American muscle that they can’t afford. Many retro cars right now are selling to people who couldn’t afford them when they were younger (ie Challenger and Charger).

        We are a different type of enthusiast who shops based on 0-60 and quarter mile times. We don’t “replace” displacement. We super/turbocharge V8 engines.

        There is a market and the Toyobaru AIN’T A PLAYER IN IT.

        R.I.P

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Yet he Miata soldiers on and that is the real problem here. Most of the folks willing to make the compromises required to own this car are willing to ditch the rear seat entirely. If you don’t need a back seat the Miata is just better.

          • 0 avatar
            Madroc

            And that’s just it. The FR-S doesn’t really have a backseat either. I was very interested, slow-car-fast and all, but I just couldn’t fit two small children back there. Larger cars like the Mustang and GenCoupe have backseats that are cramped, but usable by children or flexible adults.

            So if there’s no backseat, why *not* just get a Miata?

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            I have 1 kid, and that is all I’m planning. My daughter and I can fit in the FR-S just fine. When my wife comes along, we take the family car (a CUV). We do the same with my wife’s MINI right now. Miata is a non starter thanks to no back seats at all.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m at the top of that range, and had the FR-S had a higher greenhouse and the space of an RX-8, I would have happily bought one. ANd, I have no interest in a modern American muscle car. My ego doesn’t turn on the stoplight grand prix.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      I’m not sure where this simplistic stereotype came from – I know a few other (fellow) FR-S owners, and none are under 30. In fact, they have kids as well. Did you mean a poor man’s G37? Your comparison befuddles me.

    • 0 avatar
      krayzie

      Too much Speed Channel and NASCAR TV I see there Biggy Trucks? Driven a Miata ever or do you even fit inside one? Fun to drive doesn’t mean just driving straight and turning only left.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      Sorry “bigtrucksreview” but you post the DUMBEST, moronic comments on the internet.

      “We’re shopping for American muscle”

      So do you actually own an SRT8?

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Perhaps I am minority, but there is a charm in small underpowered sports cars and hot hatches in the sense that you can drive then hard and feel like a real hero on public roads without getting tickets more often than with a in GT-R. Yes, it’s slower than a V6 Accord and Camry to get to 0-60, but at least it’s fun to drive even when you’re trying to keep up with a Camry.

      Another interesting observation, if FRS/BRZ is a poor man’s GT-R, then Focus ST is well todo people’s GT-R.

      http://www.autoblog.com/2013/11/08/ford-profiles-surprisingly-affluent-focus-st-buyers/

  • avatar
    imag

    Unreal. Some of us are waiting for an engine and brake upgrade to buy one. Not everyone wants to buy $10K in parts from the aftermarket.

    Why can’t the Japanese learn from Porsche and Ferrari? Both are profitable because they leverage their platforms with multiple versions and upgrades. The S2K was a brilliant platform, and Honda basically hung it out to dry.

    Nuts.

    • 0 avatar

      Honda did that with the NSX too. Ran the car for years and years to recoup (some of) the investment. Mazda and Toyota did this with the RX-7 FD and Supra.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        Yep. I have to hand it to Nissan. They have kept at the upgrade game. I think that building a sports car brand to rival Porsche is a long game – you have to stick around long enough that the kids who had the poster on the wall become old, rich, adults. The GT-R is not my cup of tea, but I hope it pays off for them.

      • 0 avatar
        krayzie

        Ah but you forgot to mention after FD RX7 and A80 Supra the Japanese stock market crashed and their economy went into a technical depression since the early to mid 90s. Honda and Senna also passed away and there was a change at the helm. Then they started to focus on making environmentally friendly appliances.

        The AP1 S2000 was created to celebrate Honda’s 50th Anniversary and it wasn’t meant to last that long. Not sure what happened there.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      I feel like the S2K was brilliant BECAUSE Honda hung it out to dry. It was an ugly duckling, and that resulted in a passionate aftermarket that didn’t have to worry about fuel economy or crash safety or if housewives in Ohio liked it as much as Gassers in SoCal.

      If they drop this car in 2-3 years, it is very quickly going to become a dream for the performance aftermarket.

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      i’ve said this before (as have others), but I believe Honda should have just let the S2K evolve in perpetuity, like the 911. you’ve already sunk the R&D, just keep selling them low volume forever and don’t try to change very much about it. keep it around as a halo car, and toss some new features in it occasionally.

      i don’t think the 200hp number is the issue. 200hp feels great in a GTI. it’s that the power (or lack of) is coming from an NA boxer motor. when the car right next to it in the showroom has a turbo boxer. a revvy twin-cam 4cyl or a turbo inline 4? completely different character and driving experience. a playful experience to go along with the exciting chassis. even if it were a turbo boxer, in that car it wouldn’t appeal to me at all. but they bought themselves a piece of Fuji and so there was shared R&D and we got a motor that doesn’t seem to fit anyone’s perception of what should have been in this car.

      i thought the 2.0 turbo in the original WRX was great fun. but that was in a 4wd sedan, and it fit that car’s personality. it isn’t the power numbers. it’s a personality mismatch between motor and chassis.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The earlier effort to learn from the European sports cars makers was a painful one. The final versions of the Supra and RX-7 were moved upmarket, but lacked the cachet to build a following. High-end buyers don’t have much interest in the Asian brands.

      TMC can’t leverage the 86 platform because the other cars in this price range are FWD.

      The 86 is made primarily for Japan, where the displacement tax encourages them to keep the motor under the 2.0 liter mark.

      I’m frankly surprised that there is disappointment at corporate about the sales volumes. It is doing about as well as one would have expected, given the niche.

      • 0 avatar

        Do you think it’s disappointment, or they simply think that charging more for a more powerful/open-top version would be a non-starter in the market?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The interview in AutoExpress suggested that the sales weren’t meeting expectations, at least not in Europe.

          I don’t know what that means, exactly, but was anyone really expecting the Europeans to take to this car, particularly during a period of low car sales? The only automakers that are doing well there are those who excel at selling company cars, and Toyota is not among them.

          I’d be curious to compare deliveries there with the Scirocco, particularly the diesel variants. The sporty coupe market seems to be on the slide generally, regardless, and the 10% tariff bars TMC from being able to compete on price.

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          Given the internet reception, and the general attitude the European press gives Toyota, I can’t see how Toyota Europe would be thinking they have any upside. In North America it might be a very different story though.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I think some of the problem with this car is that all of us who have wanted it since we played the first GranTurismo game, and whom have nagged for all the manufacturers to build one for us, don’t really have cash for anything more expensive than the latest GranTurismo game.
    Either that or we have started families now , and drive CUV’s, and our kids, who in some cases are old enough to buy cars, only want smartphones and a free ride in our CUV’s…
    It’s a really beatiful toy though,but most of it’s competitors in the market could be used sportscars, like Miatas, 924/44/68’s and S2000s.
    A bigger engine could help to steal some buyers from more serious sportscars, like Caymans (Caymen?) and Z4’s, but it doesn’t quite have that pedigree or staus.
    (calling it a Celica, and calling a potential 6cyl version the Supra though, just think about it)

    • 0 avatar
      Atum

      A brand new 64GB iPhone 5S with a brightly colored LifeProof case and Swype for FREE would be amazing! :)

      You got the crossover part wrong. My mom’s RAV4 has some of the firmest seats I’ve ever experienced. Not to mention the firm pads on the backs of the front seats limit comfort. RWD SUVs that still have “Bill Heard” badges on them still rule the roads in my area.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Well, when the alternative is buying your own car for the money you’d normally spend on the phone and internet connection, firm seats are a discomfort most ‘kids’ can live with :)

  • avatar
    Hummer

    It would have been fine if sold at around 16k, but for 25k it needs a V8 and a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      You can’t buy a new V8 manual coupe from Ford or Chevy for less than 30k MSRP.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        That’s why it’s suppose to be a cheap alternative, a basic 5.3 and 6 speed is surely cheaper than the massive amount of computers on the itty bitty Subaru engine.
        Just because GM and ford want to charge an arm and leg doesn’t mean they actually cost the premium charged.

        • 0 avatar
          Sam P

          What “massive amount of computers” does a 2.0 liter Subaru engine have that would make it more expensive than a new V8 engine? A modern V8 will have a similarly complex engine control system, especially if it has direct injection like the new General Motors pushrod V8s.

      • 0 avatar
        Madroc

        Dunno about Chevy but you can definitely get a Mustang GT for under $30K right now. Of course the forthcoming redesign has a lot to do with that.

        Still, different kind of car. The bigger point is whether the traditional sports-car genre has legs anymore in an era when “muscle” cars handle as well as the sports cars of yesteryear, “family” cars have to have 300+ HP, and hot-hatches are a dime a dozen.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Exactly Sam, and when the 2015 GT rolls around make that the mid 30’s and in the not to distant future your probably not going to be able to get a V8 Mustang unless its branded SVT. What with Ford dropping the EB V6 in place of everything that traditionally was powered by a V8.

        Cheap V8 RWD coupes exist because V8 trucks are common place and that’s where the steady supply of cheap V8 muscle comes from.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      This isn’t at you personally, but is at that sentiment in general:

      What the FUCK can you buy for 25k new that has RWD, a V8, and a Manual? The cheapest V8 stang is the GT, and it’s more than $30k.

      Ahem, having said that – the LAST thing this car needs is a higher COG, and a ton of weight in front of the center-line. The only thing it “Needed” at launch was a performance version, which 90% of ‘enthusiasts’ wouldn’t have bought because it was expensive, and we wouldn’t have heard nearly as many armchair drivers saying it needed more power.

      I would own one today if I wasn’t 6’6. The car is more fun to drive that pretty much anything with 4 wheels I touched in the last year.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        A 5.3 weighs 450lbs, I’m sure toyota could build something even lighter.

        “can you buy for 25k new that has RWD, a V8, and a Manual? The cheapest V8 stang is the GT, and it’s more than $30k.”

        Isn’t that the point of building a “cheap sports car” a V8 can be built for about the same costs of a high strung 4 cyl.
        If Ford will give me a V8 for 30k why can’t a so-called cheap sports car do it for only 5k less?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “If Ford will give me a V8 for 30k why can’t a so-called cheap sports car do it for only 5k less?”

          Because the Mustang is already pushing the ragged edge of cheap. It’s bigger than the FR-S but less refined. It’s a great deal, but the cost-cutting shines through loud and clear. Dropping 5k from the price would mean cutting the V8.

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          Because a Mustang is a cheap sports car (well, GT).

          How would it be possible for Toyota to do it cheaper? The small engine was part of the concept, as a cheaper, lighter drivetrain was possible. 400hp requires axles and other oily bits to match. Toyota could do that, but not for $25k. The internet hype machine has spawned an entire mob of over-entitled armchair engineers with no clue how much it costs to actually develop and build a car.

          With reference to real numbers and processes, please demonstrate how to research, develop and build a new sports car with a global market of around 25k units per year, at a retail price of less than $25k. Once done, try and do the same thing while working with a yen/dollar exchange rate of ¥80-$1 (which was the exchange rate Toyota and Subaru faced during development).

          It’s a great car in a tougher market than any competitor ever debuted in.

          Would Mazda do the Miata today without 25 years of brand equity behind it? Would Ford do a Mustang? Of course not. There is no business case for it, and internet car enthusiasts with their sense of entitlement and snobbish ignorance would reject them. Car enthusiasts killed enthusiast cars.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            “With reference to real numbers and processes, please demonstrate how to research, develop and build a new sports car with a global market of around 25k units per year, at a retail price of less than $25k.”

            The development costs absorbed by Toyota and Subaru to make this car happen are not the consumer’s problem. If they couldn’t make a car that would meet their sales expectations at a price point they could live with, then they shouldn’t have gone through with the project.

            Nevermind the business case just in terms of money, I don’t see what this car is doing for the Toyota brand. Not only are they selling it as a Scion, but I can’t recall ever seeing an ad for it. They don’t seem to be using it to rebuild any fun to drive cred. The Lexus IS and GS are working on that, but Toyota certainly isn’t going to associate them with the FR-S. Subaru’s performance car will probably always be the WRX, so they didn’t need it for enthusiast cred either.

            I agree a company as small as Mazda wouldn’t make the Miata today, but they have it and it helps the brand image that they want. A better case can be made for the Mustang, and it also helps Ford’s brand. The FR-S/BRZ? The more I think about it, the more I am surprised this car made it to market.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            It happened because Toyota’s CEO wanted to build a sports car for the average human being. And no, the costs of development are not the consumer’s problem. They are the problem for every bullshit argument people are trotting out in these comments about needing more power, or a better interior or a cheaper price. People like to ponitificate on why this thing is a market failure, with no understanding of exactly what it takes to get a car to market.

            Toyota may not have felt they would have done much more than break even on this thing. They may even think that’s impossible. I think the FR-S exists simply because Akio Toyoda wanted to do it. The only way he could get the board and accountants to go along with that was to do it in conjunction with Subaru, using the existing parts bin.

            It may very well be that the demographics and tastes of the car buying public have shifted to the point where affordable sports cars are no longer economically viable. If that’s the case, then people really need to stop whining about what the Toyobaru isn’t, and just be thankful anyone attempted it, because that likely will not happen again.

            Car enthusiasts have killed the enthusiast car. Their impossible demands and lack of actual cash to back their rhetoric up have shown to manufacturers that they aren’t worth listening to. The comments in this thread are pretty clear evidence of that.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Amazingly accurate post, Juicy. Agreed on all counts.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            If Ford can build the mustang with more power better interior, better quality components, good quality rear end for 22k while offering tons of options, I mean imagine if only the base model V6 mustang was sold, the price would be even lower because they wouldn’t have as much R&D and added time associated.

            Seeing as how the FrS only has 1 engine and limited options, I can’t possible tell why it should be immune to reasonable costs.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Hummer – the Mustang comes with a “don’t drive over 120mph” drive shaft in base trim. It uses an engine that is in everything from an F-150 to a Taurus to an Explorer. It is HEAVY. It has a solid rear axle (with an open rear end, IIRC). All of those things contribute to cost reduction. The twins were designed to be light, standard LSD, apparently a higher spec drive shaft for balancing, and with a bespoke engine that is designed with sports car characteristics in mind. I’m sure a base Mustang probably gives the twins a run for their money around most tracks. If Subaru and Toyota did some of the cost cutting to get the price down to $20k but gained weight or lost the LSD or, heaven forbid, was powered by an Outback or Camry engine, it would have lost all that makes it special in my eyes. It would be a RWD Scion tC!!!

          • 0 avatar
            lets drive

            I just had to respond and state that this was arguably the post of the week, for me. Couldn’t be more true about internet “car enthusiasts”.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @juicy sushi – Car enthusiasts do want to get their hands on sports cars, but likely as 2nd or 3rd owners. Most enthusiast are young and don’t have the income to buy one new, and if they do, it’s not a good primary car for them. 2nd or 3rd car perhaps, but not a convenient daily driver. They’re probably looking for one used and low miles, but no lack of enthusiasm.

            It’s kinda the same scenario with the brown compact diesel station wagon with the manual trans. Or mid-size trucks. Plenty of enthusiasm, but a shortage of buyers steppin’ up to the plate to get ‘em new.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Quentin – 120 mph is fast enough for this enthusiast, but there’s always the (huge for Mustang) aftermarket. But every Mustang comes with an LSD standard. The solid axle is fine most of the time and more performance oriented, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a sports car or sporty car sharing an engine with a truck. That’s traditionally how it’s been done. But for a $5,000 savings, most enthusiasts probably don’t mind the Mustang’s shortcomings or lack of refinements. They may even embrace them. It sounds like you may have FR-S buyers remorse.
            You definitely didn’t research the Mustang much.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Denver – correction noted about the LSD. The Mustang is simply too big for me. Have you every found a great deal on a nice suit but it is the wrong size? Would it make sense to buy the wrong sized suit just because it is less expensive? No. The Mustang feels wrong on me. Too big, too heavy. I haven’t even bought a twin yet; my daughter really needs to be front facing first.

            I never said the mustang engine or 120mph were bad. To get as much power into as inexpensive of a vehicle as possible, Ford made the right call. I just don’t give a crap about the most power for the least money for my personal situation. I explained some cost cutting measures that Ford took and why the smaller, less powerful twins are not linearly less expensive.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            The Mustang’s size is a problem that probably doesn’t get enough criticism. Maybe it is one of those cars that drives smaller than it is.

            I’m very interested in the 2015, though who knows if I can make peace with its size. Most parking lots and garages near me are not painted to accommodate it.

            Unfortunately, I think the Germans are still the only ones that give you RWD and decent power in a reasonable package that makes sense as a daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        Slawek

        My local dealer at Kirkland,WA has manual 2014 Ford Mustang GT for $29,475+delivery+tax.

        • 0 avatar
          Sam P

          That sounds more like a clearance price to move a current generation Mustang to make way for the new model that was just introduced. You can’t build a Mustang on Ford’s web site for under 30k with a V8.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            MSRP and transaction prices on a regular Mustangs (i.e. not Shelby GT500 or BOSS 302 models) are far from the same thing.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    I came VERY close to buying one of these 18 months ago. In fact, if I hadn’t had a lucky break I would be driving one right now. Personally, I find that the ~200 hp and 0-60 in the 6ish second range is a good “happy fast”. It’s plenty fast for street use but not so fast as to be ridiculous. To top it off, I LOVE low-torque, high-RPM and high-HP engines. I grew up learning to drive engines that made almost no torque below 3,000 RPM and I love the things. I think that it’s more interesting than the GTI, and I don’t like how the Mazdaspeed3/Focus ST/Fiesta ST et al are all 4 door cars. The back seat on the FR-S is tiny but usable in a pinch. Finally, I don’t care how logical of a choice the Mustang is, I just don’t like it. I don’t like its styling, I don’t like how big it is, and I don’t like the interior. To put icing on the cake, the FR-S is one of the few sporty cars in recent memory that has actually kept weight under control. In short, the FR-S was perfect for me.

    So what was my lucky break? Why is there not an FR-S in my garage now? I just so happened to find a 2006 Acura RSX Type-S in near show room new condition within 50 miles of me. It’s 2800lbs like the FR-S, the engine is the screaming high RPM sort of engine that I love (140ft-lbs @ 7,000 & 201HP @ 7,900), and it’s a little more practical than the FR-S. I do miss having an LSD and RWD like I would have had with the FR-S, but it was in almost new condition for about $8000 less (technically $10,000 less but I did have to replace the clutch for $1300, so let’s just round and say $8,000 less). I think I can live with FWD, in fact it handles very well for a FWD car.

    It’s a shame they aren’t selling, but I understand why. Coupes just aren’t as popular as they used to be, and everyone seems to have gone horsepower-mad lately. Sometimes I do wish that I had bought one, but I am perfectly happy with the Acura.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      DevilsRotary…. your thoughts and my mind.

      This may be the one TTAC comment where adding my own personal thoughts wouldn’t amount to much more than what you have already written.

      I happen to have almost bought an FR-S three months ago with only 842 miles on it for $21,000. I got outbid by a Texas outfit that does a lot of Ebay selling. It wouldn’t have been my nature to keep such a vehicle. But to drive it for say, 5,000 miles? I could have done that and then received my investment back once I retailed it.

      These are great cars. The horsepower/cylinder whining is incredibly pointless and underlies the fact that many enthusiasts are more interested in driving fast than driving well.

      Enjoy the Acura. You did good!

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Hey Steve,

        Love your work.

        I don’t think its fair to say that wanting a bit more power is akin to not wanting to drive well. I love rowing my own and recently voted with my money to ensure I can. I’ve never autocrossed or anything though. As I mentioned above, the BRZ was one of my early options. Loved the RWD and LSD and stick combo, and being single, a smallish coupé wasn’t an issue, but: waiting for my new car, I currently drive a car with about 140hp/150 torques weighing 2950 lbs. Its fun to wring out, because, lets face it, theres not alot to use there, you get to use all of it, all the time. But sometimes one of the three highspeed merges on my commute into a 100km/h zone, its nice to have that easier power available. Or, just to use it just because. Don’t always have to use it, but its nice to be able to.

        I’m not suggesting in base form it should have been an RWD WRX, but I think 220hp/230 torques would have been reasonable, a power band similar to the GTI, but in an inexpensive RWD platform.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      LOL @ calling an old RSX a lucky break. The only lucky break is you didnt waste your money on a dud FRS.

      The BRZ/FRS is nothing more than a modern interpretation of a 90’s Japanese FWD girl coupe (Celica, RSX, Integra, Scoupe) but RWD and marketed as a “drift car”.

      “Coupes just aren’t as popular as they use to be”

      Fords 100,000 mustang sales, GM’s 100,000 Camaro sales and Dodges 51,000 Challenger sales beg to differ.

      “Girl coupes” are dead, yes, I agree.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        So a coupe has to be the size of a Caprice and weigh 3800 pounds to not be a “girl coupe?” All those cars you listed might as well be full-size sedans, but especially the Challenger and Camaro.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        Girl coupe? FR-S/BRZ registrations range from 76-82% male, but I’m guessing you already know that and it’s a sexist attempt to disparage a car you don’t like.

        Cars like the Camaro and Challenger sell because the average American’s idea of sporty mostly has to do with looks and straight line speed. Tight and responsive is not an interest; they would much rather have big, soft, and squishy. There’s also a lot of history behind American muscle cars that pushes sales with an established fanbase.

        • 0 avatar
          daiheadjai

          IIRC, the FRS/BRZ also have the highest manual-to-auto proportions of current production cars.

          That says something.

          What it says is that some of us enjoy heel-toe downshifts on off-ramps more than stoplight stompfests.

          After driving my BRZ, I’ve determined that there will always be one manual-transmission RWD car in my garage.

        • 0 avatar
          DevilsRotary86

          I know I am arguing against my own point here, but I admit that the modern US coupes handle damn well. They make better sports cars than they ever have. But heavy as a pig is still heavy as a pig. You have a car like the Camaro ZR-1 or Z/28 or SS that weighs around 3800lbs. Through black magic and trickery they can dance nearly as well as a Porsche 996. However, my problem is that physics is a harsh mistress, and 3,800lbs at 50-80 mph is a LOT of momentum to stop and change direction. Given the choice between a heavy car and a light car; even if the heavier car is technically faster and handles better, I will tend to pick the lighter car. The simple fact is that a lighter car will be able to go fast for cheaper over the long run. It won’t eat its own brakes and tires in nearly the same hurry as an overweight and overpowered pig like the Camaro or Mustang or Challenger. Or any number of foreign coupes for that matter like the C63 or GT-R.

          • 0 avatar
            Demetri

            You can make anything go fast through a turn if you put big enough rubber on it. I feel like that’s always been the American style of performance engineering. If it needs to accelerate faster, make the engine bigger. If it needs to corner faster, put bigger rubber on it.

      • 0 avatar
        krayzie

        It’s actually a modern interpretation of the 80s RWD Japanese Sports Compact like the Nissan Silvia, Toyota Sprinter Trueno / Levin, Mazda RX-7, Toyota Celica / XX, etc.

        MoDo is just as clueless as those Americans that think STI has to be an Impreza and a Turbo but not a tuning arm for Subaru, or a Hemi is an exclusive Chrysler thing ROFL!

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        How is it not a lucky break? The car is in near-new condition and should run at least another 100,000 to 150,000 miles with proper care. At my current rate of driving that should last me at least 10 years. The car is lightweight, it’s plenty quick for use on the street, handles great, and brakes great. The interior couldn’t be better, and it has just enough features for me but not too many. The only thing it was missing was bluetooth calling and MP3/USB support. A few hundred dollars at Crutchfield and I was set in that department (I will miss standardized Double-DIN radio slots in the future).

        The modern American sports cars are great, but they are just too big as dal20402 says. The new 2015 Mustang is already a bit of a let down to me since it isn’t nearly as small as I hoped it would be. I will make a deal. If Ford/Chevrolet/Chrysler can get the weight of their coupes down to under 3,200lbs with a backseat, chop at least a foot off the overall length, and not get styled by someone who misses the Nixon/Ford years then I will consider it. I am not even crazy like some of the others here. A car like that could cost $30-35k and it would be reasonable to me, and the backseats can be little more than occasional use jump seats.

        And finally, as for your sales assertion, that is ~251,000 coupes a year. The 1974 Ford Mustang alone sold more than that. Each year of the Ford Mustang II sold from 150,000 to 200,000. This doesn’t count sales of all the other 2 doors on the road like the Pinto, Vega, Monza, Thunderbird, Continental Mk’s, Comets, Monte Carlos, Regals, Rivieras, etc. No, coupes aren’t selling nearly as well as they were during their heyday in the 1970’s.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I think your personal experience illustrates one of the problems with this car. When someone introduces a new car that appeals to a limited market, given the improved quality and longevity of today’s cars, it’s competition is not just other new cars that appeal to the same market. It’s also older cars of the same type that, while initially more expensive, are now cheaper and fall in the same price range. These cars are not likely to be daily drivers that accumulate 15,000 miles a year. They are more likely to be weekend toys that accumulate 8000 miles a year. My 13-year old Z3 has 73000 miles on it. So, a 5-year old whatsit sports car at the same price as the FRS is a serious proposition for the smart buyer.

      As the owner of a roadster and having been “raised on” the classic British roadsters of the 1960s, I think it was a mistake not to design it from the ground up as a roadster. IMHO, that’s been one of the keys to the Miata’s success: it’s a roadster. Roadsters are perfect “slow-fast” cars. With the top down, the wind and all make the car’s “perceived speed” higher than its actual speed . . . and that’s where the fun lies.

      I understand that its tough, if not impossible, to build as much rigidity into a roadster as you have in a car with a fixed roof. But this is not supposed to be the Ultimate Driving Machine. If it was, why did they put low rolling resistance tires on it? As it is, what appears to have happened is that the car’s good handling characteristics make it feel underpowered. If it handled less capably, then maybe people wouldn’t complain about the relative lack of low-end grunt.

      And yes, high revving boxer 4s are unlikely to feel impressive. I’ve driven the boxer 4 in the pre-911 Porsche’s like a 356 Super C. That engine feels like it has a lot more grunt (and runs out of breath at a lower rpm), than the DOHC in-line 4 in, say, an Alfa Romeo of the same vintage.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        “They are more likely to be weekend toys that accumulate 8000 miles a year.”

        Uhm, actually 7,500 isn’t a weekend toy, that IS driving to work and whatnot every day week in and week out. It’s the end result of me living in a town that was a suburb of Dallas 30 years ago but is so built up that it no longer feels like a suburb but rather just another district of Dallas (Garland). I live a mere 5 miles from work. The grocery store, hardware store, and auto parts store are about 0.5 miles from me, and within a 5 mile radius are at least 2 malls, clothing stores, movie theater, dentist, doctor, optometrist, eyeglass store, and about a dozen choices in restaurants. If Dallas would be more bicycle friendly I probably could do that, but as it stands bicycling down Garland Rd. is more assisted suicide than commuting no matter how many “share the road” signs they put up.

        The twisted thing was that when my weekend warrior was running (’86 RX-7) I could put more miles on that a year than my DD on account of the distance needed to get to events or just leave civilization and find country roads.

        I don’t think my personal experience quite shows the problem with the FR-S. I really would be in one today since most comparable used cars are in pretty rough shape. It’s mere fortune that I found one in as good mechanical shape as I did.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I think you make a good point DC Bruce. I recently test drove a Miata and a FR-S on the same day. The Miata was the hands-down winner, but a significantly more expensive car, brand new. However, I ended up getting a slightly used (15K miles) NC2 for $10,000 less than the cost of a new FR-S.

        I don’t see Toyota doing anything to counteract that calculation.

  • avatar
    mjz

    This should have been the new Toyota Celica. Scion is a dead brand walking, but they stubbornly refuse to kill it. They would have sold way more as a Celica, then they wouldn’t have to worry about low volume.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The title is misleading. The comment was made by someone in the European division… “Slow sales of the Toyota GT86 disappoint, jeopardize engine upgrades” would have been a more accurate title.

      The Scion FR-S sales have been closer to 1200~1500 units a month this winter rather than the 2000+ units it was seeing the first year on the market. I don’t know if that is meeting their target or not.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    It’s been said above so I’ll simply add my voice to the echo chamber. More power, more torque. Launch it with two engines. Those who wanted more umph would open up their wallets.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Brown, diesel, manual, AWD, shooting brake, $12K new, 50 MPG, 400 pound feet of torque, 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds and top speed of 170 MPH with no electronic nannies and ABS can be switched off. Oh, and no maintainence required for the first 100K miles, not even an oil change, put a Toyota logo on it and call it Celica.

    Then the B&B will buy it. ;-)

    (manual is of course assumed)

  • avatar
    carve

    I was excited about this car, but it underwhelmed me in every way.

    Cheap? It’s in the same range as a WRX which is faster and more practical. I really hoped a stripped version would be in the $17k range. Nobody wants to pay $25k+ for a “pure” sports car that’s slow. And how pure is it? You’d figure they could have more even weight distro than, say, a 335i, but it’s still forward biased.

    Speaking of price and power, the new Forester XT uses a 250 hp turbo version of the same motor. It costs $28k with a CVT, is about 900 pounds heavier, and slightly quicker to 60. It seems trivial to drop that engine into the BR-Z or FR-S. It seems the same motor in a much smaller car with far fewer options and luxuries + a stick should be doable for, say, $23k. I think they’d have a sales success with that. it really should be the only engine available, but even if it wasn’t at least it’d give this car a bit of a halo effect (fast reputation).

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      17k? You can’t even get a Honda Civic for that anymore. No way you’re going to get a RWD sport coupe for anything under 20k. That said, I think it should be a couple grand cheaper; either that or get a little more hp out of it, like 220.

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        An imprezza is $17,800, and that includes an extra set of doors and seats, power steering windows and mirrors, carpet, AC and an AWD system! With all those features and a lot more interior space it weighs 200 pounds more.

        A base model sports car really doesn’t need any of that stuff, and should be a LOT lighter for lack of the AWD system and reduced size alone. Those same things will also make it cheaper.

        • 0 avatar
          Demetri

          There’s just too much that goes into making a dedicated low volume sports platform to be able to sell it at a price like that. That’s why no one does it. Also, removing features doesn’t cut as much off the price as you may think; stripper models are more about sacrificing the manufacturer’s own profit to get people in the door. With a car like this that has a very thin profit margin to begin with, it’s difficult to do that.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          The Impreza can also stretch the platform development costs over the base Imprezas, XV Crosstreks, and WRX/STIs (along with the not for North America Levorg), which outsell the BRZ/FRZ by a wide margin.

          • 0 avatar
            carve

            The FR-S is based on the Imprezza platform as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Is it based on the Impreza chassis, or do they share minor points? Either way, it’s a hell of a lot of development money for a niche vehicle, which from a business sense, makes hot hatches/sedans much more attractive.

          • 0 avatar

            > Is it based on the Impreza chassis

            Given the engine isn’t in the same position relative to the front axle (ie no shared front clip or even hard points like typical modular platforms) and completely different sort of rear suspension, it doesn’t appear similar at all.

            Some folks are probably confused because the development mules (to test engines & whatnot) were made from modified existing subarus.

        • 0 avatar
          daiheadjai

          Your Impreza is not the WRX.
          And I’ve driven a friend’s Impreza.

          Fine car. But not in the same league as the FRS/BRZ if driving enjoyment is your priority.

          Test a M/T Impreza, then tell me the clutch and shifter is on-par to the FRS. You can’t.

          Throw it in a turn. Tell me the balance is the same. You can’t.

          The Impreza (in all its iterations) is a great car – but a sportscar it is not.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Speaking of the WRX, the 2015 WRX has that same engine in the Forester XT paired with a 6MT. Why not use that combo in the BRZ (assuming it fits)?

      A stronger engine would help the cause, but I think other posters are right that very few actually want a sports car. I’ll admit to only wanting to go as far as a sporty car. I appreciate the BRZ and I’m glad it exists for those that can tolerate the compromises, but it is not an appropriate car to drive for 60 miles/day at freeway speeds. As I get older, even my E46 is about as loud as I can stand for my commute.

      The BRZ doesn’t make a strong case on value either. It is not obvious to me why this car costs more than a V6 Mustang. Does the live axle save that much money for Ford? I don’t shop by the pound; I will consider a premium small car. The problem is, at least as far as I can tell in pictures, the Mustang has a better interior too. A Mustang might not be as tossable on a twisty track, but it is much more palatable as a daily driver.

      I don’t see the appeal as a toy car either. The number of people able to pay $25k for a toy is shrinking rapidly. Those left that can afford toy cars might also be able to pay $70k for a toy, and end up in a Z4 or Cayman. Also, the Miata competes in the same price range as the BRZ. If the car is a toy anyway, why not enjoy a convertible?

      I even think the BRZ loses as a track car. The Miata competes well on the track. I also thought most people buy used cars as track toys. Why get a new BRZ when you can have an old Miata. If your club doesn’t allow convertibles, get a beat E36.

      To summarize my babbling, it’s too expensive and there is stiff competition in every category where it could possibly be considered.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The BRZ’s interior is pretty much crap, but so is the Mustang’s.

        A Mustang that handles well costs about as much as the BRZ. The super-cheap base models drive like Crown Vics. I’ve had enough base Mustang rentals to know.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          The Mustang interior may be barren, but it’s not nearly as flimsy and cheap as the Toyobaru (and I test drove them back-to-back, along with a Miata). Just turning on the radio in the FR-S made me feel dirty.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    It was near the bottom of every comparison test road on course times. Not very track worthy.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    “A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people’s wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify … based on the current sales”

    Sounds a lot like a Catch-22 situation …

    “Everybody wants a better version. We won’t make a better version until everybody wants the current version”

  • avatar
    Demetri

    What happened to this:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/cains-segments-the-toyobaru-twins/

    Or are the international sales so bad that North America is the only bright spot?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The story ends with this…

      …The Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ have both been hits. Don’t let hit status lull you into thinking that your uncle’s next car will be an FR-S. He will trade in his RAV4 for another RAV4. And remember, your neighbour doesn’t drive a BRZ. She just leased a Mercedes-Benz CLA250. Obviously…

      So is it really a hit?

      The TTAC story says it is lagging globally – which I’ll translate as not doing well in Japan.

    • 0 avatar

      The original quote in the AutoExpress article is somewhat vague:

      “However the bad news for fans of sportier Toyotas is that Killmann told us that the GT 86 Coupe was flagging behind its sales targets in all major markets.”

      AutoExpress being a European publication, it’s not impossible that he is referring to all major European markets, rather than all major global markets.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    What would sell, that wasn’t built: A car with an honest-to-God Toyota motor, sold in Toyota dealerships under a historic Toyota nameplate, with a competitive interior, clean styling, carefully assembled and designed, with turbo and convertible options available from Day 1.

    What was built, that didn’t sell: a rather awkward-looking car with a boat anchor Subaru motor, a crappy and too-small interior, sold under a brand and a name that are both meaningless, of iffy quality, with no turbo option or convertible.

    It’s not the idea I take objection to, just the execution.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      This. A thousand times this.

      Objective question. Did Toyota have an engine both forced induction and NA in its parts bin that they could have used? If not, would it have been a wise choice of resources to have purposely built.

      Does Toyota do forced induction (not at the dealer through TRD) on the 2.4 in any geography? Would it meet emission requirements and make CAFE happy in the states?

      Was the use of the Subbie engine a compromise between the two partners, or was the Subbie engine the best of a group of bad choices to meet size, output, MPG, and tick mark specifications.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        “Was the use of the Subbie engine a compromise between the two partners, or was the Subbie engine the best of a group of bad choices to meet size, output, MPG, and tick mark specifications”

        I thought it was because the flat 4 design aided the low center of gravity they were looking for.

      • 0 avatar
        J.Emerson

        I believe the engine choice was a compromise between Subaru and Toyota, as well as a cost move. Otherwise, I see no reason why this car could not have been equipped with the 2.4, with or without a forced induction upgrade. It was already developed for use in other American Toyota products. This car was always going to sell in such low quantities, I doubt that CAFE was ever a serious concern.

        Honestly, the thing that baffles me the most was the failure to simultaneously develop a convertible. If this was a cost move, it was a dumb one, because I could easily see the volume doubling if they had one available. It seems like such an elemental sort of thing for this type of car.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The Toyota 2.4 is heavier and taller than the boxer.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          What 2.4 are you talking about? The 155hp AZ that dates back to the early 00s? The 2.5L AR replaced that engine. It is an excellent engine in my Rav4, but in no, way, shape or form should it be in a sports car. It is a fine powerplant for the tC where the extra torque helps pull around the extra heft, but small, light, and RWD should have a screamer.

          I won’t even get into the fact that there are loads of aftermarket superchargers out for the twins that are reliably putting 220+ HP to the wheels. $3200 and 3 hrs to install to go from 165whp to 220whp.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      Pretty much correct. Except should have had hatch, not convertible…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’ve got the solution:

    Step 1. Lift it another three feet off the ground.
    Step 2. Pull the hood up halfway to the top of the windshield to restrict visibility.
    Step 3. Profit!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So the question has to come up again:

    tC – recently refreshed and Scion’s top seller, but no where near 2007 levels

    FR-S – disappointing sales according to the brass at Toyota

    xB – ancient, not in the same class as other box on wheel choices like the Soul

    xD – ancient and uncompetitive

    iQ – dead

    Is Scion in the US now a dead brand walking?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      ^

      Scion deathwatch bgins.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Scion was a dead brand about three years after release. Once the initial wave of xB buyers got their cars and the dud replacement came along that was the first sign. Then the tC buyers got theirs, the car got an MCE and was dumbed down, the interest died off. Too much money for too little return. If these had been USDM GM products, the bile would be flowing like the Mississippi… LOL!

      I’ve often said there’s nothing wrong with the FRS-BLT-86×4 (or whatever the hell the car is supposed to be called) that a small block LS or LT Chevy engine wouldn’t fix.

      I’ve got to believe someone out there is building kits to swap them in. Not unlike the old Monster Miatas, a way to make these underwhelming cars interesting.

      It amuses me that the site that initiated the GM Deathwatch series has no interest to do one for Scion. Or Mitsubishi. Or Mazda. Or Subaru.

      Put a fork in all of them, they’re done.

      • 0 avatar
        J.Emerson

        I wouldn’t put Subaru on that list. They’ve been on quite a tear recently, and they have a very loyal customer base. They’re fairly well positioned for the future, especially because they have American manufacturing capacity that Mazda doesn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          Subaru has been lucky riding the AWD fad for a while. Before the Great SUV Epoch, where anything with 4WD/AWD is just marvelous, their cars weren’t doing all that well. Something else will come along and then AWD will not be fashionable, what’s the game plan then?

          Can they go upscale to meet Audi? They certainly don’t want to go back down. Or would they strike up a convenient arrangement with Toyota, like the seeds of which we’re witnessing now?

          • 0 avatar
            Tosh

            As long as the weather keeps getting worse and worse, Subie’s decision to be all-AWD is looking pretty smart?

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            You are not familiar with Subarus success I think, it really doesn’t hinge all on AWD. They already tried the “upmarket” thing with the 05-09 Legacy and it didn’t work out, so they made the Legacy/Outback cheaper and bigger for 2010 and sales went up.

            Subarus stroke of genius wasn’t AWD, it was the Outback, packaging the Legacy wagon in SUV style. Outback is the seller, Legacy is just a footnotw for Subaru. The Impreza is strong since the last redesign, clearly there is strong demand. Subaru makes a very simple car with little in the way of fancy features, at a decent price, and AWD included. They seem to have found a real balance. They aren’t going to outsell the big players but they sell more every year.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Mazda finally does have American (well, Mexican) capacity producing the new 3 for the NA market. This is supposed to free up production for the CX-5 as well, so they will be selling more of those as well.

  • avatar
    sastexan

    A real, live FR-S owner here. Yes, the FR-S is my primary car (but I have a backup Camry when I need to carry more than one passenger or the snow and ice are out – kept the summer tires on). Maybe a little insight into this owner will help with this discussion.

    Toyota / Subaru have completely fallen off the boat with a lack of decent factory upgrades, especially to the engine. By my most recent search, you can get TRD exhaust, brakes, air filter and a crappy Pioneer radio from the dealer. Scion is supposedly a brand that encourages customization – and in some marketing materials I have received, was promoting owner cars with many aftermarket upgrades. If Toyota were to support a supercharger or turbo kit, even at their typical overpriced margins, I think they would get a huge response (especially for those who want to roll the cost into their car payment). The price is hardly the issue with this car – it is factory support. The FI system is tuned to within an inch of its life, as I understand it – no way to really get more power out of the engine as NA, while many of the target audience would love to do an ECU flash or similar like they can do with competitor’s engines to get more power (even knowing risking their warranty coverage).

    In reality, this car, in stock form on the street, is not begging for more power (except possibly a little torque – but it’s a small 4 cylinder and set up more for being spun up, like a turbo or VTEC). On the track, I did not find myself screaming for more power. However, once I upgrade the (admittedly weak) brakes and (stupidly greasy) tires, I am pretty sure I will want a 10-20% bump in power. Oh, and an exhaust – the pathetic exhaust tips and pleasant but non-distinctive engine sound need to be dealt with as well.

    Do I like my car after a year and a half? Absolutely. Are there things I would change about it? Yes yes yes. Should Toyota have developed these upgrades when the car went on the market, and supported aftermarket manufacturers to have parts ready? Duh. My guess is that Toyota and Subaru aren’t collaborating and the development of the car stalled at that point. It would be sad if they give up and get a Harvard business review study of what NOT to do.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I believe Scion is now “Custom Image” focused. After the debacle that was the tC superchargers, they have basically gotten out of the actual performance upgrade department. You used to be able to get coil overs kits and big brake upgrades from TRD. Now the only performance options are an oil cap, lowering springs, a strut bar, quick shift, and a an exhaust. The money wasn’t there and now we are where we are. Scion is no longer pushing their customizing mantra.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      Finally, an opinion from someone who actually owns the thing (even if you aren’t allowed to criticize the tires, they were designed to be ‘greasy’ so your lap times are slower but more sideways-y.)

      • 0 avatar
        sastexan

        It doesn’t matter to me that Toyota intended the car to go sideways easily with these tires. It annoys me that if I go around a corner at more than snail speed, the tires chirp and I can set off the traction control. And in the wet, fuggedaboudit.

        When I’ve found empty parking lots, sure, that’s a ton of fun! But not for the daily driver. Needs more stick.

        I was surprised how well the tires did on the track (in pouring rain no less). Quite predictable and decent limits. I think this is the reason the reviewers are glowing with the stock tires.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I am curious, since you have a backup car, what sold you on the FR-S versus a Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        sastexan

        The miata is great. If I had a dedicated track car, I would do it probably. However, I wanted something that had a backseat that I could put at least one child in (and I can and do). Also, the FR-S feels much more substantial and less claustrophobic (even top down) for daily slogging on the Capital Beltway. The beltline is higher and visibility is good. In the Miata, I felt like I was looking at bumpers but not in the FR-S. See if you find a Miata and an FR-S parked next to each other – it will shock you how much taller the Toyobaru appears.

        I cross shopped it with a WRX, Mustang, Genesis Coupe, and RX-8 (used unfortunately). I probably would have done the RX-8 had the FR-S not been on the market.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Toyobaru would have to spend $0 to upgrade the motor. They could have used the FB25,or the EZ30 flat 6, etc. They had options. Bottom line the car needs more displacement and torque… a little more power would be nice too.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Current weight distribution is same as a Mustang with a
      V-8. It does not need anymore weight on the front (or more should have been spent to give it a more rearward bias.

      It has not sold because it is over-priced, has cheap interior, and is not space efficient in the interior.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I don’t think the FB25 would weigh anymore than the current motor. The current motor with bigger pistons and more stroke would literally not weigh any more; maybe a couple of lbs for the bigger crank.

        Not sure how it’s overpriced either. Miata is ~1K less than the FR-S, but is down 40HP and 2 seats. If the FR-S is overpriced what in its price range is a good value?

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          The Miata is also up a convertible roof.

          As pointed out in numerous other places in this thread, the Mustang V6 and WRX compete in the same price range and offer better value. I would put the GTI in that group too. Mustang has more engine and the hardware to support that, and a better interior as well. New WRX interior doesn’t look great, but certainly not worse than the twins. WRX also offers a lot more hardware (AWD, turbo and related plumbing). I don’t mean that as turbo and AWD are necessarily better, but it is an additional expense for Subaru that you get at a similar price. MKVII GTI also offers more engine, and the interior embarrasses the twins.

          It’s an odd grouping, I know. All of them are new for 2015, and all look impressive for different reasons. Obviously with all those cars being new designs, I will admit to not sitting in any of them. That said, at least with the interior quality, I don’t think the quality is so close to the twins that I need to see it for myself. I am comfortable judging that through pictures.

          The interior is really the big reason I feel the twins are overpriced. Look at what you can get for $25-$30k, and compare it to what you see in the twins. The twins would be much more appealing to me with a more premium look and feel, even if it meant another couple thousand.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            So you’re comparing a small, light RWD sports car to a huge, 800-lb heavier ponycar; a 600-lb heavier sedan with 60/40 weight distribution and AWD; and a FWD hot hatch.

            Those cars all have their merits, but they also all have drawbacks if you are after small, light and balanced.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I also compared it to the Miata, which covers light and balanced.

            I mention the other three strictly thinking in terms of value. To me you are getting more for the money with the Mustang, WRX, and GTI. All of those cars fit my use cases better as well.

            If low weight and balance is a high priority, I guess the Miata is the only car worth comparing to the twins. I think of it as a track/autocross toy. I could see it in a city commute where the lower speeds don’t put a spotlight on the noise, but a Mustang, WRX, or GTI would work better in 90% of daily driving situations.

            Keep in mind I’m someone who thinks a Buick Verano would be worth a test drive, so you see how far away my tastes have gone from what the twins do well.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Our EIC pro tem wrote…

    …I think the car was a victim of too much hype. The Toyobaru could never measure up to the effusive praise heaped on it by the media…

    Question for you – do you think this is the “media” or do you think this was in part due to Toyota’s own hype machine. Toyota discussed target price, target performance numbers, teased a gorgeous concept about four years before launch and then just kept the, “it’s coming” machine going and going and going.

    TTAC has written that for most of the automotive media, it doesn’t pay the bills to not be a good little follower to what the PR machines of the manufacturers tell you – and that is pretty much a universal truth regardless of manufacturer. Don’t play along – you don’t go to the launch activity. You don’t get the “first drive,” (which TTAC pointed out in a story is kind of worthless anyway). You don’t get “insider access,” heck you may have to go find one to rent of flog from a generous dealer over a weekend if you want to do a write up (and Toyota recently took umbrage with TTAC’s use of the word “fire”)

    So was it the “media,” or was it what Toyota fed the media about the spiritual successor to the Celica, the AE-86 roots hence the FT-86 reference, about the collaboration, which many speculating a boosted Subbie engine would at least be an option on day one.

    Curious on your insight given how the media is supposed to behave with the car companies (and kudos to TTAC for not playing along for the most part)

    • 0 avatar

      #1 I am not EIC Pro Tem, Jack is

      #2 The media didn’t need to buy into the hype. They convinced themselves it was amazing before they drove the car. And nobody is going to argue, because when you dissent from the prevailing opinion, you are considered an outlier at best, a contrarian hack at worst. Ask me how I know (Cherokee launch).

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      When thinking of the media hype surrounding this car, I’m always reminded of a 6-way comparison MT did between the GTI, V6 Mustang, 2.0T Genesis Coupe, BRZ, FR-S, and Miata.

      The magazine writer were enthusiastic in their praise of the twins, ranking them #1 and #2. The professional driver they brought along, Randy Pobst, was busy taking his #1 car, the Miata, out for another spin around the track.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I love how everyone has nicely lived up to all the stereotypes in Derek’s article. The global economy stinks, youth don’t have money and sports cars aren’t “cool” anymore. I’d buy one if I had the money for a second car. I don’t, so I play Gran Turismo and dream. By the time I can afford one the only affordable fun cars left will likely be the Miata and Mustang, since they’re well-established enough to survive.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Sigh…shoulda listen to the Internets..GIVE US A RWD DIESEL WAGON WITH A MANUAL TRANNY!! ITLL SELL LIKE CRAZY!

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      You, of course, will be first in line to buy one? New? At whatever price the dealer is charging (and the markup will probably be huge because this is the most demanded car of all time)? And not grump about the first year depreciation? It doesn’t matter which manufacturer produces it, even Volkswagen?

  • avatar
    wmba

    From Nov 2011 till June 30 2012 I haunted the ft86club website. Convinced myself I had to have one of these things.

    On May 30 2012 I got my test drive and that was the end of it. Tinny (why bother with any sound-deadening?), sluggish (the dealer suggested route was steep uphill from the showroom), inert steering (darn EPAS), noisy as a bag of washers in a washing machine engine that just sounded and felt unhappy, an old aircooled VW zizz when trying to accelerate in 4th from 50 mph, a clutch pedal engagement that was so unreasonable it made me feel like an amateur. I had no desire to fling it around to see if it actually was a decent handler, because it didn’t pass muster on the basics.

    Yup, to me it was a car made by people who had forgotten what a decent sports car was like and thought they knew better. So they produced an unrefined vehicle to sell cheap. Glad I could cross it off my possible to buy list without obligation.

    But the rave reviews kept coming. All shortcomings were dismissed. Any criticism was met by growls from the baying hordes. And no doubt will again as I’ve voiced my utter disappointment here in the past and been accused of not knowing what I’m on about. I couldn’t care less. This is a cynical product designed to feature features, the totality of which is far less than the sum of the parts.

    Then the new owner problems started from June 2012. Chirping fuel pumps crappy window weatherstripping that tore, rattles galore, gearbox problems and all have rear taillight housings that fill up with water unless heroic measures are taken. There’s over 50 pages of complaints on ft86club. But still they buy them, albeit in reduced quantities, despite direct injectors blowing out of heads, various lunched engines that weren’t even turboed and warranty denials because Toyota dealers never had to deal with lousy quality before and just don’t believe their customer’s complaints. Great.

    There’s no word of mouth nudge nudge going on that takes hold of people’s imagination and skyrockets sales. It’s just an OK car, ho hum.

    So if Toyota marketing doesn’t have the imagination to work out why it’s a bit of a dud, I have to be amused. VW can’t figure out why their cars aren’t wildly popular in the US either. Apparently acknowledging truth or even having the wit to see it is not allowed. Excuses must be made instead.

    When the navel gazing marketers can’t see it’s not enough car for the money and that it’s not particularly “nice” anyway, to admit the truth to themselves would be to acknowledge missing the mark, and secondarily make Akio Toyoda angry because the car has his stamp of approval, then we get excuses from the likes of this Toyota Europe person. All missing the point, on purpose, I presume.

    A vicious circle that will never allow for an improved model. They’ll blame its demise on misreading the market rather than own up to it being a bit of a dud.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Awesomeness. Great post.

    • 0 avatar

      Quite decent drivers have tested out the driveability and it’s up there with the s2k or rx-8. Are you comparing this to a Cayman?

      Notice what all these vehicles have in common: true sports cars that don’t sell because people want “sporty” cruisers instead like the mustang. If Toyota screwed up here, so did their peers and it’s not the product itself.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        “True sports cars dont sell”… then how do you explain the enduring success of the Miata, 911, Boxster, Z etc. The car sucks. Puff pieces written to appease manufacturers and sell magazines/generate page hits don’t count.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      You’re right about the tinny engines, I had a BRZ that was speeding up to pass me, I ran almost neck and neck and the BRZ couldn’t pass ahead.

      And I was in a Volvo 240.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    There really hasn’t been much of an advertising/marketing campaign for the cars and I suspect a lot of people don’t even know they’re out there.

    In retrospect it appears that Toyota and Subaru made a mistake in how they have marketed and sold the cars. There really should have been a version sold as a Toyota by Toyota dealers.

    Subaru has cemented its reputation as the maker of all-wheel drive cars and crossovers. It is not the first (or even the second or third) place that I would think of for looking for a reasonably-priced, sporty rear-wheel-drive car. There are not that many Scion dealers around and the number of them seems to be declining.

    The ADM (additional dealer markup) on the first cars that reached the market also put a damper on sales and scared away some buyers.

    Lastly, yes, the economy has been really hard on the young people who would normally have been the primary market for this kind of car. The few people I’ve seen who own these cars are all decidedly middle-aged, and while they enjoy their cars, a couple of them have told me they would have preferred to buy a more expensive sporty car (Mustang GT, Infiniti G37 Coupe), but couldn’t afford them.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    It’s their own damn fault and I have zero sympathy for them. They screwed the pooch on this car in so many ways. This is exactly what I predicted more than 3 years ago when news was coming that it was going to be a Scion. Completely killed any interest I had in the car.

    It should’ve been the Celica. That name has a legacy, people know it, and a RWD platform would’ve been a great way to revive that name and hit the ground running at the same time. The Scion branding limited this car’s appeal, whether people want to admit it or not. Call me a badge whore, I don’t care, but I would never buy an FRS (which itself is a STUPID name) but would’ve gone bat shit crazy for a 2013 Toyota Celica. The Celica name alone would’ve equaled more sales on the badge alone.

    Then, they did the equally STUPID decision to involve a 2nd tier automaker, not exactly known for reliability, to spear head much of the development of the car, when Toyota is fully capable of doing this by themselves with their own engines and their own engineering staff. The car had some teething issues out of the gate with the Subaru boxer engine and some build quality woes since it’s built in a Subaru plant. They apparently haven’t learned, since they’re pairing up with Break My Wallet to develop another sports car.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    My thing is this:

    Why when you could buy a Mustang? Before, OK, yes the Mustang had a relatively lack luster 4.0 V6. I drove one of these on a test drive and was less then impressed. Just reinforced my purchase of a V8 GT. Now however, the “base” 3.7 V6 is an absolute peach; I was even impressed by this engine in a crewcab F150…. must be sublime in a Mustang (as most here have noted) and the bigger issue here…..

    The Mustang lists at $22,150. This gets you the 3.7 V6, 6 speed manual in a coupe. This is with no optional extras, but Mustangs are hardly striped down these days. The V6 is a very well balanced car, the V6 has 305 hp and great performance for the price.

    The FR-S lists at $25,250. See the problem here? Less car for more money. True, the FR-S is more modern, especially suspension wise and yes it’s lighter, but then again is the power issue staring you in the face, it has a whopping 105 less horsepower.

    And to be really unfair, a Mustang GT with the 5.0 Coyote lists at $31k. With more then 400+ hp for roughly 5 grand more. Double the power and then some.

    Also I’m sure Ford will wheel and deal on a Mustang, so in theory you could probably find one for less….. or you can find a Certified Pre-Owned 5.0 for less too. I can’t comment for sure, but I’m willing to bet I can find a CPO 5.0 Mustang for around 25k. It goes without saying which I’d prefer having in my driveway….. oh and there’s that whole heritage thing too.

    • 0 avatar
      kol

      Ford has 3 grand on the hood of the Mustang, plus whatever you can negotiate with a dealer. Brand new, you’re looking at 18k-21k for a Mustang V6 manual. Hard for the FR-S to compete with that!

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      Anyone reading this article and saying “yo, Mustang so much better” has very obviously not DRIVEN each car back to back. It would be like saying “why did you get an MDX when you could have gotten an Explorer?” Yes, they both have two doors and tiny back seats, but they couldn’t be much different in driving character.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      You can also get a 283hp Dodge Avenger for $19,600. Doesn’t mean it’s a straight competitor.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The base Mustang has the handling of a truck. If you’re even considering a FR-S it’s because you value good handling. You at least need to add the Track Pack (and find a car with it — good luck), and even then the Mustang is big and clumsy compared to the FR-S.

      Great value, and obviously much faster — but if speed is your first priority you wouldn’t have considered a FR-S anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        “The base Mustang has the handling of a truck.”

        2014? The handling is interesting. But hardly a disadvantage with the track pack that still prices the Mustang below the FR-S.

        2015 is a different story.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Theres more to a car than horsepower. By your logic, why not buy a Camry V6? More horsepower.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      I feel like the Mustang doesn’t rate unless you have the track pack and Recaros. That pushes the cost up a bit, and try to find a GT with just the “bang for the buck” options used.

      Is the V6 without the performance pkg any good?

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    It’s their own damn fault and I have zero sympathy for them. They screwed the pooch on this car in so many ways. This is exactly what I predicted more than 3 years ago when news was coming that it was going to be a Scion. Completely killed any interest I had in the car.

    It should’ve been the Celica. That name has a legacy, people know it, and a RWD platform would’ve been a great way to revive that name and hit the ground running at the same time. The Scion branding limited this car’s appeal, whether people want to admit it or not. Call me a badge whore, I don’t care, but I would never buy an FRS (which itself is a STUPID name) but would’ve gone bat s*** crazy for a 2013 Toyota Celica. The Celica name alone would’ve equaled more sales on the badge alone.

    Then, they did the equally STUPID decision to involve a 2nd tier automaker, not exactly known for reliability, to spear head much of the development of the car, when Toyota is fully capable of doing this by themselves with their own engines and their own engineering staff. The car had some teething issues out of the gate with the Subaru boxer engine and some build quality woes since it’s built in a Subaru plant. They apparently haven’t learned, since they’re pairing up with Break My Wallet to develop another sports car.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Again I wonder about “involve a 2nd tier automaker, not exactly known for reliability”. And, again, I ask: did Toyota work with Volkswagen to design and build this car?

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        No, they worked with Subaru, a small 2nd rake automaker whose boxer engines are not known for stellar reliability and the self-proclaimed “we took the lead on this car” engineers of the FRS.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          That must make Camry’s 2nd rake (rate?) also…until recently they were built in the same factory with Subaru’s (SIA, Lafayette, Indiana). Toyota engines, in my experience are not pillars of reliability; 3 Celicas, one with engine replacement at 45k miles, 2 others with blown head gaskets at around 130k miles. Built in Japan.

  • avatar

    All the posts above blaming it on the power or branding or whatever fail at any perspective on the market. Honda, Mazda, and even Porsche have tried their hands at the sports car and success has been elusive for all despite their relative competence. The S2k and rx-8 are dead, the Cayman only hangs via sharing with more successful siblings, and the only realistic “success story” of the Miata is mostly bought by women as a fashion accessory (whose male counterparts prefer the Boxster). The misconception that manufacturers get sucked into is that people *response* to marketing for driver’s cars, but they aren’t these drivers themselves.

    From a financial standpoint the only real performance cars that work are exotic halos who subsidies from the rest of brand are exchanged for marketing value.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      The Miata?

      • 0 avatar

        > The Miata?

        Dead without the valley girl following.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        At least in North America, the FR-S/BRZ outsells the Miata almost 5 to 1. Granted there will be a new Miata coming next year, but at least for now, Mazda does not make money on it, and I doubt the new one will be a money maker either. The Miata is more about brand image and providing something for their engineers to work on that they truly enjoy.

        • 0 avatar

          NC Miata shares platform with the Rx-8 which helps.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          The NC Miata doesn’t sell well anymore because everyone who wants one, has one. Same reason the Camaro has been outselling the Mustang – not because it’s more popular, but because the other car had a long head start on sales.

          There’s little reason to buy a new Miata or Mustang when there are so many lightly used cars on the market (which is what I did). The savings over a brand new FR-S or Camaro, for what is arguably a better car, is a sensible choice.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Could not be done today. Needs legacy plus FIAT paying for all the work (Mazda couldn’t afford it on its own).

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          You must have that backwards. I think Fiat is hitching a ride with Mazda, who will be responsible for designing the chassis and building the car for both companies. A new Miata will come no matter what, but you can’t say the same thing about a new Alpha Romeo.

          • 0 avatar

            > I think Fiat is hitching a ride with Mazda, who will be responsible for designing the chassis and building the car for both companies. A new Miata will come no matter what, but you can’t say the same thing about a new Alpha Romeo.

            He has it right. Both want the end product. Mazda needs less money to finish it than Fiat so the cash flows in that direction, not unlike how Toyota paid Subaru in this case.

  • avatar
    Helmut Spargel

    As a guy with two young children, this isn’t even a possibility for me. However, if I were in the market for a two door sports car in this price range, the V6 Mustang seems like a no brainer.

    If only some of these two doors were on the market before one of my first considerations was how car seats would fit in the back…

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      I can fit a car seat (even the giant Britax Boulevard) in the back without an issue. However, the front seat has to be forward – so the car is still a two passenger vehicle. If I have to carry both of my kids, I have two other vehicles to choose from. Nothing will fit behind the drivers seat with me in it except a bag on the seat (which I don’t do b/c to save weight, Toyota didn’t put in the mechanism to return the seat to its previous position).

  • avatar
    Agent Smith

    I’ll share the perspective of someone who JUST went through this decision making on a new car purchase and dropped real money. First of all, I LOVE precise driving cars. I feel that many cars today have lost a certain ‘purity’ in their feel. To put that in context, one of favorite all time cars is a E36 M3. I’m not middle aged but along enough in life to be established, and in the fortunate position of having an understanding wife who doesn’t mind me dropping coin on a sports car because it makes me happy. We have kids, so there still has to be value in the equation. And I use my car as a daily driver in city commuting. No dedicated toy cars for me. Yet.

    Reading all the glorious reviews of the FRS/BRZ it sounded right up my ally. Looked at both, preferred the BRZ. But on the test drive, my expectations were shattered. It handled GREAT. Loved the chassis. HATED that I couldn’t get power out of it without beating the engine to within an inch of its life. Not being able to successfully merge on the highway without flogging it was the deal breaker, no matter how well it went around corners. The clutch kind of sucked too, but I’m willing to forgive a lot if I’m buying a sports car. Even the tight interior and low slung seat didn’t bother me, and I’m 6’0 with occasional back issues.

    Long story short, I ended up with a V6 Mustang with manual trans. Is the Mustang a compromise? Sure. Any sports car is going to be one. It doesn’t handle as well, feels ‘heavier’, and is less ‘precise’. But, it handles better than most cars and is definitely playful, has MORE than enough power to get out of everyone’s way, and is fairly economical to run. There’s a raw honesty in it that I love. It knows what it is and what is isn’t. Yes I paid less than a BRZ but price was not the overriding issue for me. Best of all, it puts a grin on my face everytime I’m behind the wheel and I look for excuses to go driving it. What makes this really interesting is that I grew up hating Ford (my memories of Ford include words like Escort and Tempo) and for the last 18 years I’ve driven imports. I don’t even think about the FRS and BRZ anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      I agree with you – the clutch pedal is terrible. However, it is a 10 minute fix with a 12mm and 14mm wrench to adjust the rod for the clutch pedal position to make it feel right. I do feel like an old man (I’m shy of 40) getting in and out of my Toyobaru, which kind of annoys me.

      The V6 ‘stang is a great value and has a great engine. You are enjoying it, and that’s what matters.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Let’s see what went wrong…

    When it first came out, greedy asshole Toyota dealers were gouging these cars for 5k, so anyone who wanted one but had half of a brain went out and bought a Mustang.

    It’s not that fast. Sure it handles well and drifts, but it’s. not. that. fast.

    QC on the first two years’ run has been pretty shoddy, even by Subaru standards. Valve problems, cam problems, transmission problems, rattles, squeaks, water getting into the tail lamps. Coupled with a bunch of racer bois doing questionable things to these cars to void the warranty makes this a headache for Toyota (Subaru knows how to deal with racer retards).

    Subaru makes a much faster and meaner car. It’s called the WRX and it will kick the ever living shit out of the FRS/BRZ. If that’s not enough there’s the STi, which annihilate it. I have an WRX. It is a rocket ship compared to the FRS, and it’s a wagon, so it hauls my bikes and smokes other cars off of the line and on the twisties.

    Toyota doesn’t give a damn about sports cars.

    The Scion brand is on life support.

    People with money to buy this little car want something bigger, faster, and roomier–some will buy the WRX/STi, some will buy the Mustang.

    I test drove the FR-S back to back with my wife’s WRX, and I was unimpressed. If Toyota and Subaru want my money to go to this car, they have to make it a coupe version of the STi. That won’t happen, so I’ll just buy the next Impreza STi when it comes out.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      “Subaru makes a much faster and meaner car. It’s called the WRX and it will kick the ever living shit out of the FRS/BRZ.”

      Subaru hasn’t done anything to help sales of the BRZ by hinting as much to media doing the early reviews of the new WRX.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        I think Subaru realized that the BRZ is an economic failure and goes against the type of vehicles they sell in the US and the type of image they have.

        There are two kinds of Subie owners: safety conscious folk who want a car-based crossover/wagon or a 4WD sedan and the WRX/STi crowd.

        None of them give a damn about a RWD coupe. I have no evidence, but I think most BRZs were sold to people who couldn’t find an FR-S at the Scion dealership.

        Here in Colorado, there are dozens of the things sitting around, unsold, in the dealerships.

        • 0 avatar
          ellomdian

          Here in Colorado, releasing this thing without a Convertible top should have been a terminable offense. 300 days of sunshine…

        • 0 avatar
          daiheadjai

          The BRZ costs more than the FR-S, and is generally harder to find (lower production numbers).

          But you’re right – sliding around corners with your tail out is generally not typical Subaru owner behaviour (and most of the STis/WRXs are driven simply as fast straight-line tarmac missiles here in the GTA)

  • avatar
    mkirk

    The only thing that merits this car over a Miata is the back seat, but if you are buying this class of car you are likely able to live without the back seat in which case the Miata is just better and a couple of grand less. If you need a back seat, you probably need a real back seat in which case you are shopping for something else.

    The Miata is really the perfect packaging here. It has a usable trunk. The competition never got that this was a car people used daily so cars like the kappa twins and the last gen MR2 Spyder are no more.

    Toyota got caught sort of in the middle of two markets here I think. More power could have fixed this. Making what amounts to a Miata Coupe could have also done this but by all accounts it just isn’t as much fun as the Miata and it is too slow to play with other similarly equipped cars so it gets reduced to fanboy only status but Scion fanboys buy first gen boxes and install stereo systems.

    Anyway, I like it, but I’d rather have a Camry and an old school Celica to play with.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Underpowered and undertired. It needs at least a motor that is in the S2000 class, and tires off something more than a Prius.

    Not to mention the price: The Mustang and the WRX may be heavier, but they are both far better deals for what you get.

    The Mustang in particular is $3K cheaper: if you want performance, which would you rather have? A 200 hp, undertired Toybaru, or a V6 mustang with $3K worth of suspension go-faster and/or track time?

    And its got perhaps 1 year left before the Mustang loses some 400 lbs, making the much bigger ‘stang only 400 lbs more rather than a portly 800 lbs…

    And lets not get started on the $2K cheaper, 200 lbs lighter Miata…

  • avatar
    Ion

    I went with a mustang over a BRZ. The mustang had a better interior, cheaper base price, no dealer markups, 100 more HP, and almost the same gas mileage. The MPG was the real deal breaker how can the BRZ w/ the manual get just 30 highway compared to my 29, especially considering it’s a lighter car with a 4cyl.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The twins have far more aggressive gearing than your Mustang assuming you got a 31mpg non track pack Mustang. Your rolling wheel diameter is 711mm versus 625mm (taller gearing there) and 6th gear on the twins is approximately the same gearing as your 4th gear. That is why the gas mileage isn’t impressive on the twins. The Mustang track pack ratio brings the gearing pretty much in line with the twins, but you aren’t going to be getting 31mpg highway with the 20% more aggressive gears on the track pack Mustang.

      They are just two completely different vehicles. To illustrate how different they are, consider this. The Mustang V6 is top speed limited to 120mph or so. To drive a non-track pack Mustang V6 on the track, there is absolutely no reason to ever shift higher than 3rd gear. 3rd gear tops out at ~120mph. The twins’ 3rd gear tops out at ~85mph. 5th gear tops out at ~125mph. Thanks to gearing, the twins will be a lot closer on a track, especially anything tight, than the 100hp difference would imply. That gearing punishes the fuel economy (and is part of the reason that the 6AT with taller gearing in the twins does 34 on the highway). For me, a high revving, aggressively geared, light weight FR coupe is a lot more satisfying than a heavier, long legged, big engined FR coupe. It most likely won’t be faster, but it will be a closer race than the numbers imply and there is no factory option to knock 600lbs off a Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        Ion

        Auto week did run a BRZ up against a V6 track pack. The BRZ just keeps up with the 500 Abarth. Track feel is irrelevant I and most Americans don’t drive on a race track to work. The Mustang and the FRS are both FR RWD coupes that seat 4. Your like can keep making up excuses as to why the FRS is a different class but I’ve heard the same thing in regards to the Genesis, the G35/7, GTO, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          And yet, even though most people don’t drive a track to work, 300hp automatically means that the Mustang is a far better car and the 200hp twins are unacceptable even though there is someone in a CUV in front of you on the onramp 90% of the time.

          Why are you picking track pack for performance and then complaining about the gas mileage of the twins not being as good as the non track V6? My point of the post, in general, was that the base Mustang is a good bit of a different animal from the performance pack Mustang with its long gears, hard tires, and softer suspension. Check out this review, for example. http://www.edmunds.com/ford/mustang/2011/road-test3.html

          Like I said, they are different animals with a different purpose despite being FR coupes for ~$25k.

  • avatar

    The support for mustang and wrx instead is further evidence that there’s no market for a cheap sports car. If buyers can’t tell the difference, why bother?

    • 0 avatar
      kol

      The difference being, what? That if you buy the FR-S, you’ll only see tail-lights at your next track day?

      • 0 avatar
        sastexan

        At my track day, I passed every Mustang, Camaro, BMW (non-M modified) and VW. The only cars whose taillights I was looking at was the E92 M3 and turbo Cayman S. And that was on stock tires and stock brakes (which got a little scary towards the end of each session).

        A set of pads, a flush and a set of tires and I’ll be keeping up with everything through the turns. These are good drivers too in the advanced group.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Paint me highly skeptical of your claim.

          I’m trying my best to be diplomatic.

          Most of the cars you claim you passed murdered the FRS on the Lightning Lap.

          I test drive the FRS manual and found it to be the biggest disappointment – relative to the hype – of any of the 15 or so vehicles I’ve test driven or ridden in in the past 3 years or so.

          It has a cheap interior (really cheap everything), the motor sounds terrible, a useless back seat (why even have that parcel shelf?), the clutch is terrible, and it’s way slower than many of the fanboys claim.

          Did I mention that the suspension SUCKS A$$ as a daily driver over real world roads?

          By comparison, an RX-8 manual feels like a frickin’ Lexus in terms of refinement in suspension, clutch/shifter, SUSPENSION (2x for emphasis), interior noise, quality of materials and interior fit/finish, etc.

          Oh yeah, the RX-8 actually fits real humans in the back seat, and even adults.

          The Toybarus are cheap cars, hyped to ridiculous levels, that feel cheaply made, cheap to drive, and have all the refinement of a compact pickup truck from the mid 90s.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Have you driven the Fiesta ST, yet? I would love to hear someone’s comparison. Even to see which cheap POS interior is ‘better.’

          • 0 avatar

            Working on my review. Build quality was bad. A-pillar trim was coming apart, headliner felt loose, hated the downsized MFT. Supremely comfortable on a long-ass drive to visit baby bro at college, Recaros made the backseat useless. Oh, after putting my foot down all the way up University Ave by my condo, I understand how you were able to run from the Federales at 140 mph. What a riot.

          • 0 avatar

            The Rx-8 is a very under-appreciated car. It’s by far the best value for driving purists at the prices it’s trading at.

          • 0 avatar
            daiheadjai

            Driver skill is the big variable.
            And not accusing you of this, but I suspect most people will look at the spec sheet and just “not get it”

            The “fanboys” don’t claim it to be the messiah of outright speed (although with a good set of tires, it has been demonstrated to beat much higher-hp competition).

            I daily drive mine – the ride is firm, but it works (definitely feels better than the wife’s Elantra over real-world roads).
            Of course you will feel the bumps and grooves, and this ain’t no Lexus, but it isn’t harsh by any means (my wife prefers the way it rides compared to my old Celica GT on 15-inch wheels and higher profile tires). Of course, I am only 30 so that may be a factor.

            FWIW, the Toyobarus cost the same as a new RSX Type S or Celica GT-S did, over 10 years ago.
            That’s a comparison of $30k CAD (2013 dollars) to $30k CAD (well, more like 32k) 2002 dollars.
            Amazing value for a 100hp/L, 6-speed RWD car in those terms.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Agree on the RX-8, but ownership certainly has its compromises. They are not notoriously long lived and were I to take a long trip I’d have to park it and drive my truck to save gas. I love them, but I have seen fuel economy figures that put the thing up there with my 80 series Land Cruiser. Dammit, why do I still really want one.

      • 0 avatar

        > The difference being, what? That if you buy the FR-S, you’ll only see tail-lights at your next track day?

        A sports car is designed for pure driving pleasure, a connection to the road, as an extension of the self.

        Track time mainly means an engine that pulls at the top, brakes that don’t fade, and enough money to keep the rubber fresh.

        • 0 avatar
          FJ60LandCruiser

          >A sports car is designed for pure driving pleasure, a connection to the road, as an extension of the self.

          That’s like going over to pick up your fat girlfriend who has a “great personality” and realizing that her younger sister is a model, rich, and wants you.

          • 0 avatar

            > That’s like going over to pick up your fat girlfriend who has a “great personality” and realizing that her younger sister is a model, rich, and wants you.

            Sure, the sports car is the looker, the lover, the elicitor of passion. Most guys take home the frumpy practical ones and tell themselves it was the better choice.

    • 0 avatar
      mwerre

      It’s tough, people no longer appreciate a light car because in many cases, they aren’t old enough to have ever driven one.

      I looked at the Toyabru, but just couldn’t justify a new a car for a 6k mile a year toy. Almost bought an RX-8, its lightness reminded me of the good ole days of my RX-7s in college. Plus it was a great drive slow car fast at 9k rpm and multiple gear changes just to get across the street.

      But I let a low miles 06 Mustang with supercharger seduce me with the power. That part is great. But even with a new Steeda suspension kit installed, its handles almost identically to 1994 C4 Vette. The Vette everyone makes fun of…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I’ve never been a huge fan of the Mustang, and I owned a 1992 Mustang LX 5.0 5 Speed Manual (faster/lighter than the plastic clad GT – I did like that car, as it was reliable and fast for the times).

        But then Ford put the new V6 in the Stang with a manual tranny choice, and then the 5.0 Coyote in the GT, and these engines, both FAR BETTER than their predecessors, made the Mustang a compelling value in terms of what one paid and received. That there was money left over to do mods if one chose – to a mod friendly motor and suspension – was icing on the cake.

        Now I’m a fan, and with IRS coming along with a great new exterior and interior on the new ‘Stang, I’ll probably be a BIG fan.

        As it is now, a 3.7 liter Stang will murder an FRS, and it will do it while being better built, just as economical, and more refined, to boot.

        There’s nothing compelling about the FRS. It’s handling advantage over the Mustang is nowhere near by a wide enough margin to offset its many flaws.

        • 0 avatar
          Illan

          actually.. i seen the v6 mustang cheaper than a frs.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            V6 Mustang with manual transmission can e had for 21k, including destination, plus TTL from Suburban Ford in Sterling Heights, Michigan right now, and they have quite a few on the lot.

            There’s no such thing as a “stripper” Mustang anymore. If I didn’t love my present car so much, which has been absolutely reliable – I’d think long & hard about snagging one of those now – a Blue V6 stick.

            22.2k OTD for 300 horsepower and a highly modifiable platform that gets decent fuel economy, will smoke the FRS, and is much more useable as a daily driver is quite a better deal than the Toybarus.

          • 0 avatar
            Agent Smith

            Here in Charlotte NC the deals on Fords tend to be even better than in MI. You wouldn’t believe what you can get them for here. Pick your options carefully and you can be in one with a price in the teens.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    1) Weak powerplant
    2) Dud interior
    3) Overhyped
    4) Missed out on ‘Celica’ name cache.

    Why market it through the dopey Scion sales channel with an irrelevant nameplate no one knows of or cares about when Celica has boatloads of emotional attributions across MANY generations is baffling.

    Also…

    5) The Jalopnik/Autoblog Volvo diesel RWD stick wagon fanboi brigade who COMMANDED FROM ON HIGH THAT THIS SHALL HAPPEN has an FR-S background on their iPhone while they scour Craigslist for another $2000 car. i.e. Fanbois don’t have the fiscal means to buy new.

  • avatar
    Atum

    I have a huge idea why the FR-S/BRZ is flopping.

    It’s painfully unreliable (for the respective companies, at least). Toyota and Subaru are stereotyped as reliable companies.

    The BRZ/FR-S have a black circle in CR reliability and an abstain face on TrueDelta. I also remember cars.com’s long term BRZ needed a new fuel pump under 15K miles.

  • avatar
    Atum

    Oh, and 99 likes I see.

    I didn’t know Facebook had that many active users.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    It failed for none of those reasons. It failed because young people can’t afford the car, or the insurance.

  • avatar
    kuponoodles

    People bought miata when they couldnt afford the rx7.
    People bought celicas when they couldnt afford the supra.
    240sx and sentra ser 200sx when the 300zx was too pricy
    3series coupe cuz M5’s costs more than college.
    944’s vs 911’s.
    Camaros vs Corvettes,
    Etc etc. You want people to spend money? Make them feel poor. Give them something to aspire to, and something they can have within reach now as a short term goal. You cant expect to illicit a desire for performance while selling cost consciousness. When i want a sirloin, I know i have to pay for it. Otherwise, I’ll just stick with the cheaper cuts. … Damn it, now I want Shake Shack.

    PS honda can brimg back the prelude tomorrow and it would sell. Because we’re idiots.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    1990 called – they want their “sports car” back.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    If they make the car too powerful, not only does the cost of the car go up with the power, but the cost of insurance does as well. That’s a double whammy for a demographic hurting for good jobs and burdened by student loans.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    One of my favorite cars of all time when it comes to writing a review.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/hedonist-vs-frugalist-2012-scion-fr-s-street-edition/

    I especially loved how the photos came out with an eight year old digital camera that only worked when you held it just so. This was my last achievement with old-tech as everything I used back then decided to spontaneously discombobulate within mere weeks.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The story only talked about the FR-S, but is the BRZ perceived the same way?

    The FR-S sold 18k copies in 2013; that’s really not so bad. The BRZ sold 8587 copies, but this is a much higher fraction of Subaru’s sales.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The Mustang, which a FR-S could park inside of, is not a sports car. Not even close. A Mustang is the size of a 5 series. How can it be a sports car? It’s a performance car; a pony car; a cheap GT. Not a sports car. Nobody is cross shopping a Mustang V6 and an FR-S so can we stop comparing them?

    • 0 avatar
      J.Emerson

      “Nobody is cross shopping a Mustang V6 and an FR-S”

      Beg to differ. I think there are plenty of people looking at both of them, both enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts. The serious enthusiasts with money to spend aren’t busy arguing over obscurist definitions of what constitutes a “sports car.” They’re taking their money to where the driving enjoyment is: the Ford dealer, the Nissan dealer, the Mazda dealer, the Porsche dealer, etc. The non-enthusiasts are ignoring the FR-S because it feels cheap, isn’t available as a convertible, and has useless back seats. That is, if their Toyota dealer even has a Scion franchise. Otherwise, they probably don’t even know where to get one.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        You mentioned Nissan (Z), Mazda (Miata), and Porsche (Boxster), and the FR-S/BRZ is killing all of those in sales in North America, which is why this article confuses me. People have also mentioned the WRX/Sti, another car it beats in sales. Not sure what Toyota was expecting. Only the Ford/GM/Dodge muscle cars really squish it sales wise, but those cars have a long history and dedicated fanbase in this country.

        • 0 avatar

          Cars are generally built (and priced) to a sales target. Those other more “sucessful” cars are either priced more, or share platforms or such to offset costs. For example, the Z is a shortened G (and also contributes to the GT-R), and the Boxster is basically a cheap 911 with drivetrain flipped, and the Miata with the Rx-8.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        So in other words, they aren’t cross shopping them. To a non enthusiast an FR-S might as well be an overpriced TC. And I am def sure nobody is cross shopping TCs and Mustangs.

    • 0 avatar
      kol

      I cross shopped them. So there.

      Anyway, I don’t get where you’re coming from. If you don’t cross-shop an FR-S with a Mustang, what do you cross shop it with?

      It’s fine if you go into the market saying “I want a sports car, with RWD, and it can’t weigh more than 3,000 pounds, or cost more than ~25k.”

      But it’s delusional to conclude that’s also what everyone else is thinking.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I cross-shopped them too, even test drove them on the same day. I wanted RWD, 2 doors, and a manual – they both fit the description.

        And there are people on this very page who bought one or the other, and explained why. They’re definitely targeting overlapping markets.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        This is very true. But at the same time, those who cross-shop the Toyobaru with the Mustang have to chose between two different ideas. The Toyobaru was emphatically intended as an old-school, slow, cheap and fun car which ignored other considerations. That was the entire point. Either you like it enough that those things are sufficient, or you buy something else. That has been the traditional sports car compromise. People rejecting it because of those characteristics are implicitly rejecting the sports car concept.

        There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sports cars have never been sales leaders, regardless of what nostalgia claims. But people attacking the FR-S and BRZ for not being something else are missing the point as well.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Read this whole thread, multiple B&B who not only cross shopped FR-S/BR-Z vs Mustang, but bought the V6 ‘ Stang

    • 0 avatar
      Agent Smith

      I did just that. And ought a Mustang. Even the Subaru dealer wasn’t surprised when I told him which direction I had picked.

  • avatar

    Sorry if someone mentioned this above, but I really didn’t want to go through all the comments and it’s really late here.

    Didn’t take off because of many things. Of course, I’ll be speaking from my world view.

    Horsepower is not a big problem in the ROW. The RWD layout may have been a problem. As you all know, people in Europe (South America, too) are pretty used to hot hatches. Being that the horsepower ain’t so great, a FWD layout may have been better. More people used to the dynamics. RWD is fine when you have superlative power. Not the case.

    Brand. Toyota is not sold on excitement or sportiness. If it were a Mazda, fine. Most people looking in a Toyota dealership wouldn’t have made much of an idea of this car. AFAIK, former Toyota sporty cars were hits mainly in the US and to a lesser degree, the UK. The rest of Europe teh presence of Celica and Supra is hardly known. If Toyota were serious, they’d sell this car, not talk about disappointing sales, and try again. Maybe after a 3rd or 4th car such as this, people would start to notice.

    Yes money. Though initial pricing is not a deal braker, insurance probably is.

    Finally, the car is no looker. Very ho-hum. Needs more. It has the generic look of a sports car, but nothing that really makes you turn your head. Plus, cars such as these have a difficult time in the best of times. The Fiat Barchetta and Coupé come to mind, as does the Ford Puma or Opel Tigra. Usually they start off pretty strong, then taper off. Even when they’re much better looking than this. Unfortunatley, it would seem the world is not into sporty coupes anymore.

    It’s a shame really. This car does nothing for me. But there have been many beautiful examples, specially from Europe in the past that would be a blast to have around. Manta, Capri, Coupé, Puma. I would love to have a car like that. But only as a third car. And that proves Derek’s point, the world probably is just not hospitable anymore for this typr of car.

    • 0 avatar
      Vega

      ” RWD is fine when you have superlative power. Not the case.” That doesn’t make sense. I can’t see why fwd should be better for 200hp than rwd. Don’t forget that the 3 series is a huge seller in Europe…

  • avatar
    April

    I would buy one as it is now but would go with the Subaru version because that’s the way I rock.

    :)

  • avatar
    Illan

    im reading this and nobody mentions the Hyundai Genesis RWD Couple with the 4 cyl turbo making 274 HP for $27,245. i love the FRS/BRZ but the competition is quite stiff amd making more power. you can get a BASIC v6 mustang for $23,000 with 300hp

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I agree that the main issue behind the poor sales of this car is a market already saturated with strong products at similar prices. The other cars that it competes against offer more power, and more space, which can sometimes be a benefit even in this segment. Someone who buys the FRSBRZ wants a go cart with few compromises. Not a lot of buyers are willing to accept that.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      Drove the Gen Coupe (274hp 2.0T edition).
      It’s a nice car, except for the rubbery shifter and ginormous size.
      It feels like a big comfy cruiser that can gather speed.

      The power is nice though, and the fact that it can take 87 Octane or premium is a big plus.

      I think it boils down to whether or not the car feels right to you.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    The rarity of this vehicle coupled with it being such a unique program / platform is attracting me to it. This will be a future cult classic. After it’s production is sh1t canned, everyone will reminisce over it and ramble even more about it’s merits than they did when it was new and production tooled.

    The same diffusional bull sh1t that I will do with my unloved project car, before I donate my body to science to pay for its maintenance fees after my 2nd divorce leaves me broke.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Being that the car’s raw specs are about equal to the E30 M3 on paper, and not having ever driven it, I can only guess that Subayota’s attention to detail absolutely sucked on this car. You know you did it wrong when the Mustang drives like a Lexus next to your car.

    Not to mentioned, this might be the world’s only universally-unloved 200hp 2.0 engine. Did Subaru screw it up THAT badly? Every inline four with that kind of hp/liter ratio tends to be very much loved, so maybe the boxer’s way of doing it is throwing people off? I almost want to go test drive it tomorrow just to see why people are so disappointed.

    That said, what the hell did Toyota expect? This is not 2001. Two seaters rarely sell. Counting this cuz the backseat is fit for chihuahuas and little else.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The car isn’t a two seater (although I gather that the back seats aren’t exactly spacious.) For the class, it seems normal, but there isn’t call for cars in this class.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      I’ve driven an FRS briefly and rode in a BRZ and in both cases, I was a little surprised at how flat the motor felt, and how little seat-of-the-pants acceleration came through, and it does feel underpowered sometimes, despite the good hp/l numbers. I think if it delivered power more like a Civic Si instead of a Corolla, there’d be fewer complaints about it.

      I drive a truly slow car–a E30 318is that hits 60 in 9.something seconds when it was fresh and having a bunch of top-end power makes it feel a little more lively. I’ve also driven a ’99 Civic Si extensively, and wringing out all 111 ft-lb of torque from that tiny motor is quite a bit of fun in itself.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        If you’re measuring an engine by HP/L, you’ll almost always come away disappointed. It’s not really a meausre of anything significant except for how fast an engine will need to spin to make any significant power.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Yeah, Subaru and Toyota did screw up that badly. The FA20 has a huge torque hole from 3-5000 rpm, so the car has a good start off idle, then falls on its face and only realizes its a sports car once you really wind it out. IMO a 200hp 2.5L boxer with a linear midrange would have been better, with a turbo 2.0L option for the drag queens.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      I don’t think a Mustang will drive like a Lexus next to anything.
      It might be the lack of character in this engine.

      You don’t get the nice sounds that inline 4s make, and it makes its 200hp without relying on anything like VTEC or VVTL-i (so no Jekyll/Hyde transition from docile to dominatrix).

      Time will tell if it gets the same amount of aftermarket support (it is only 2 years old, after all) – already there are turbo and SC kits available, exhausts, headers, etc.

  • avatar
    kol

    The FR-S doesn’t sell well for three reasons.

    1) It’s too small
    2) It’s no good on the highway
    3) It’s not doing well in reliability and quality surveys

    And really, that’s it. We can gab about the soul of the sports car all day long, but ultimately people buying cars in the ~25k market want reliability, comfort and reasonable space. The FR-S offers none of this, so it’s sales are only going to get worse.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      FWIW, most of the Consumer Reports reliability issues are minor.
      No cars catching fire or shattering driveshafts here.

      No, we get more little things like a stupid navigation system, a minor fuel pump chirp (fixed by getting 91 or higher octane by some – completely nonexistent for others), and rattles and squeaks (stiff suspension plus low car plus relatively cheap interior will do that).

      These are annoying, mind you (my Pioneer Navi is still trying to send me in the opposite direction of where I need to go), but they aren’t reliability issues that affect the operation or enjoyment of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        “but they aren’t reliability issues that affect the operation or enjoyment of the car.”

        They are for many people. Most people expect nowadays that their car won’t catch on fire or that the car won’t destroy itself. Which means people are now starting to care a lot more about build quality and software glitches.

  • avatar
    bodayguy

    FR-S owner here. Also: my previous car was a Mustang GT 5.0.
    Honestly, I’m a little surprised at the HATE on here. Geez people. Now I admit, after about three months I kept telling people how much I missed the Mustang (powarrrr), but the FR-S is a needed addition to the market.
    Biggest factor for me was finding a car that was still fun but cheaper. Considering car payment, insurance and has mileage, I save probably $250 a month with the FR-S versus the Mustang. That’s good money, and the FR-S is still fun enough. It’s peppy, and yeah, drifting it around corners never gets old.
    I don’t regret my choice (yet – now let’s talk about that 2015 Mustang with IRS …)

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    People complaining about a sports cars’ back seats remind me of the people complaining about their V8 powered full size pickup’s fuel economy.

    Maybe these people should trade cars.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    Unfortunately, I fall into the category of people who really like the car, but haven’t put my money where my mouth is. If the car had come out in 2008, I would have, since I was car shopping back then. If I had to buy a new car today, I’d have a very hard time trying to decide between the Fiesta RS and the BRZ. Sports coupes, especially ones with a dedicated platform, are a hard case to make these days.

    A while back, I read that Toyota wanted to maintain a 2 million yen base price for the GT86, since it was how much the AE86 cost when it was new. Out of curiosity, I used a pre-recession and post-recession exchange rate to calculate it into USD and at one point, the difference in USD was up to 3k, pre and post recession. I think if Toyota had kept the price target in Yen in mind, maybe the big change in Yen-USD exchange rates affected their ability to price the car lower.

  • avatar

    For some of the discussion above about who’s buying these, this has a chart of what owners traded in:

    http://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/analysis/drive-by-numbers-scion-fr-s-vs-subaru-brz.html

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    A sports car might be a thing of the past and a smaller demographic is wanting one. We all think they look cool, but will we buy one?

    A hot hatch might be more desired. A hatch is more versatile.

    Why are CUVs popular and not sedans? Versatility.

    Sports cars have not been as popular as we would like to remember.

    Fond and emotional memories do distort reality.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Who ever decided not making the FS-R a Toyota should be fired. The scion brand gives a feeling of being a cheaper early 20’s something brand . If it said Toyota Celica the sales would 50% greater.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It was a good idea, but moving on. This time start with a manual Tacoma drivetrain. Built for cheaper. Its 2.7 has lots more torque than the FR-S. Call it a Celica ST and use the V6 for the GT version.

    Just buying the base Taco is a far better value proposition. Not a sports car by any means, but gives you something fun and $7,000 to play around with. Not to mention, useful. And standard locking diff. STS catback turbo? KONI Shocks, swaybars and vintage Supra wheels? X-bracing?

    But wasn’t there an X-Runner Tacoma reg cab?

    i201.photobucket.com/albums/aa309/REG_CAB_X/IMG_0829.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      THIS. A thousand times, this.

      The Tacoma powerplant would be awesome in a new Celica. Takes a page out of Nissan’s book with the old 240 using the 2.4-liter KA24DE from the Hardbody truck, too. Those were hot little engines when done up for a sportscar, yet they did yeoman’s work in the truck as well.

      I tested an FR-S. I liked the directness of the driving experience. It was like driving a go-kart. Fun, big-time. But it was crashy over bumps, hard to get in and out of, and not at ALL suited to carrying my toddler son in his child safety seat. Not. At. All. We actually had to put four people in it, one of whom was a leggy teenage boy, another was my son in aforementioned safety seat, the third was my wife, who at 5’3″ had her seat crammed all the way forward to make room for our son, and then me, at 6’3″ with my knees under my chin. Glad my tester was an automatic.

      The reliability concerns I’ve been hearing about the FR-S/BRZ since my test concluded are not encouraging.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Despite what the arm chair enthusiasts think, there is hardly a market for small, cheap RWD sports cars. I’m 29, have a six figure household income and even when I was in my early to mid 20s and making less $, I never would have considered an FR-S. Why? It’s slow, underpowered, uncomfortable, terrible interior and a crap motor that sounds like a damn tractor. If I wanted a RWD track car, I sure as hell wouldn’t buy a brand new FR-S. I’d build a cheap used (insert fun track car here).

    If you test drove an FR-S and then test drove a Mustang, GTI, Focus ST, Mazdaspeed3, and seriously thought about whether you really needed to buy into the drifting and lightweight RWD marketing, you’d quickly realize that the you don’t really give a damn about that and consider something else, not buy an FR-S. Quite frankly, outside of a track and a twisty road, this car sucks. There, I said it.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      “Quite frankly, outside of a track and a twisty road, this car sucks. There, I said it.”

      Do you use a hammer to cut things?

      All I know is I go out of my way sometimes to find a nice twisty road.
      An empty, unplowed parking lot is Christmas morning for me.

      I think this car sucks for what you want it to do – and what you want it to do, isn’t what it was designed to do.

      • 0 avatar
        Spartan

        “Do you use a hammer to cut things?”

        Do you put Prius tires on a lightweight sports car? No. That would be more akin to using a knife to hammer things, yes I reversed that.

        The FR-S SHOULD have had a turbo motor with a bit more than 200 HP. It didn’t have to be a 350 HP beast, but 250 HP would have been better. I’d even give the crap interior a pass if it at least had some decent power out of the box and a decent wheel/tire setup.

        • 0 avatar
          daiheadjai

          I should point out that no North American Prii come with those tires (17-inchers aren’t good for gas mileage).

          The conscious choice was made to undertire the car to make it easy to reach the limits at low speeds (this is partly why it does have a fan base). Upgrading the tires is known to be a dramatic (and simple) mod that brings up performance substantially.

          And I dunno – all these gripes about the interior seem like hair-splitting to me.
          Mine has the alcantara leather and the digital HVAC. It’s no Lexus, but given that I’ve generally been driving cars at the lower side of $30k, it is a comfy place enough for me (the driver seat is, at least).

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The FR-S would make a great 2nd car to play around with, but hardly worth buying new. 2nd or 3rd owner, yes!

    There’s true high demand for the FR-S and its type, but not the kind OEMs need. I’ve loved and owned these types of small, blast to drive sporty cars, but I wouldn’t consider taking a huge financial hit on one of them new.

    I’ve had an MR2, CRX, 240SX and RX7, but I bought them well used and sold them more so. And that’s when you can really enjoy the f*ck out of them. Drive them like they’re stolen and whatnot. Pushing them past the limit without a care. Drifting inches from guardrails. No problem.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    The author of this article should clarify that this is about sales of the European marketed Toyota GT-86, not the North American marketed Scion F-RS. What’s with all the misleading headlines today?

    • 0 avatar

      If it is in fact referring to the European market it is true. In September I rented a GT-86 for a weekend here in Germany. I enjoyed driving it and like the exterior design. For me the positive points were the handling, the shifting and the seats. Negatives were the horrible interior, the lack of soundproofing and the weird clutch take-up. I am in the market but when I return to North America permanently I plan to look carefully at the 2015 Mustang which has seemingly addressed many of the things I did not like in the previous model. Anyway, since renting that GT-86 six months ago I have seen a total of two others in the most populated part of this car-mad country.

  • avatar

    I’m going to post a fresh and different excuse: the engine power is plenty for me, the price is right, and I can fit into FR-S better than in many interesting comact cars, but Toyota caught me between the upgrade cycles. There’s too much life left in my daily driver. I suppose one can say that I should’ve wanted it well enough to trade in, and in a sense that’s true… But you know, various life circumstances, the usual.

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    Insurance costs also tear this car up, esp. for younger buyers. Here’s an idea – have Toyota cover the cost differential between a Corolla/FR-S and pass it on as a discount.

    I blame it squarely on the insurance companies. It makes more sense to buy a pre-2000 Honda, or hell, even a used Mustang, get third party coverage and supe it up.

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    Derek,

    I’m curious to see what has changed your opinion on these cars for the better (somewhat)?

    Also, I feel like there’s no point in making the convertible – the roadster market is a small niche of a small niche (the sports car/coupe market), and is already occupied by 2 big players (Mustang convertible and Miata) which cover the two extremes (blunt object and scalpel).

    If they actually pull through with a 4-door version of this car and manage to keep it at ~CAD $32k, I wonder if it would make more sense.
    Lots of car guys can’t buy a 2-door coupe for family and practicality reasons (the trunk in my BRZ is a joke – wish it’d been a hatch)

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      Why not make it 4×4, too, while you’re at it? Oh wait, because Rav4. . .

      People keep telling me my NC Miata is underpowered and slow, too. But it’s funny how I’m never looking at anyone’s taillights on a nice canyon drive.

      The 86 is fine just like it is. The only thing wrong with it is I can’t justify/afford one to park next to my NC.

      I’d say the only thing for Toyota and Subaru to do would be to somehow make a much wider distinction between the two models. Give someone a much clearer reason to choose one over the other.

      But all this hating on a car that’s everything it was intended to be is just pointless and silly. It should be more like a Mustang/350Z/Camaro/Cayman. . . Why???

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    Also – like others have pointed out, I’m not sure if this headline applies to the BRZ and FRS.
    Granted, I live in the Toronto area, which has a higher preference for imports than say, middle America, but I see BRZs/FRSeses on a daily basis here.

    They won’t be as popular as Civics or Corollas, but I definitely see more of them than I do Miatas (although this could be a selection bias – Miata drivers likely have a second vehicle for cargo duty)

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    When the ND hits I bet we’ll start to see a lot of discounting for the Toyobaru, if it lasts that long…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    There are a few factors why the FRS/BRZ is slow selling:

    1. A gutless, unrewarding engine that needs to be revved to make any power, and according to Mr. Baruth, they have a knack for breaking down early on track days.

    2. The Mazda Miata, a tried, proven, and countinuasly upgraded car for enthusiasts. It may have less power but its smaller and has a decent powerplant thats actually rewarding to rev.

  • avatar
    teasers

    I see them on the road from time to time here in NW oklahoma city. Either that or it’s the same one. Did they only sell them in white?

    Before I read this article this is what I knew about this car, or thought I knew.

    Toyota bought subaru, and used subarus boxer engine to power a small RWD car. Same car, one was a subaru, one was a toyota kinda like ford and gm love to do (no really it’s different, just look a the grill!).

    Scion was a car company that built boxy cars in the late 2000s and sponsors shows on NPR.

  • avatar
    Bob

    McDonalds listened to what customers wanted and made the McLean deluxe, a hamburger that was 91% fat free. Nobody liked it or bought it. This car reminds me of the McLean, everyone want’s a simple sports car, but these are not selling.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    So which, is it?

    “is reportedly lagging behind its sales targets across the globe

    “the Subaru/Scion introduced in 2012 has proven popular with both companies reporting strong sales and has shown that the small but clear void in the market was very real indeed. It seems that people really do want a cheap and practical but rear-drive and sporty daily driver.”_ SCG

    Anecdotally, I see more and more of the Twins on the streets everyday, and, I don’t live in a big city.

    Interestingly, yesterday, I had just came back from the Toyo dealer after measuring up an FRS for an LS transplant(Thank you Lithia, et al), when I saw this post.

    After suffering through the usual inane comments, there was a sparse scattering of considered comments. Today, I looked at a few more comments, but a guy can only take so much of the lame comments by the prejudiced sort, who are never going to buy anything that matters, let alone a FRS/BRZ.

    For anyone who can actually drive at the 90th percentile, the Twins are a wonderful addition to the sporty car ranks… Thank you Toyota/Subaru. While safely sorted/equipped from the MFG’s, for drivers of all skills, the Twins can be easily fined tuned for more deliberate sporty uses or track work. And, I have never seen one break on the track or at Auto-X’s

    For those complaining about a lack of power, I’m pretty sure you can’t handle additional Hp, except on an on-ramp, but your not a buyer anyway, so quit bothering us and throw sand at someone else.

    If you are an ‘owner’, and really want more thrust, the after market is ready to supply power enhancements, but then you already know that, your no dummy.

    By the way, I love people with generous amounts of disposable income, who want more power. Pays my bills and buys my toys. As I write this, across the shop and in process, is our first ever transplant of a Cobra ‘R’ engine into an NA Miata. I gotta love Horsepower Freaks with bucks.

    And ‘JB’ denigrates the handling of the Twins? Who cares, that guy drives an Accord of all things. Sorry, JB, couldn’t resist. After market suspension, wheels & tires, would cure his complaints in the first, fast, compound apex. That is, after he is fighting shape.

    Toyo/Subaru did damn fine job bringing to market a light weight sporty coupe with considerable potential in this day of demanding safety considerations that pile on the weight… Thanks, again Toyo/Subaru. If reducing weight was all that easy and cheap, why didn’t Ford find more weight to lose in the 2015 Mustang?

    Interior complaints. Enhanced interiors add more weight and cost more money. Go buy a Luxo boulevard cruiser, whiner. You just can’t have it all. Cars, like life, is about compromises… give and take.

    More power? You weren’t the sophisticated market target of the Twins. See your Big Three dealer for your ‘special’ needs.

    Owners and the aftermarket, love their Twins, and couldn’t care less about the whining of the sandbox mentality crowd.

    • 0 avatar

      > For anyone who can actually drive at the 90th percentile, the Twins are a wonderful addition to the sporty car ranks..For those complaining about a lack of power, I’m pretty sure you can’t handle additional Hp,

      This is pretty much true of “sporty” car buyers in general. Most guys fetishizing about 400hp v8’s will probably kill themselves if they ever tried driving one at the speeds they’re capable of.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        ” will probably kill themselves if they ever tried driving one at the speeds they’re capable of.”

        Yes! True enough. Products capable of of dynamics way beyond the capability of the purchasers, like high end hi-fidelity equipment and match rifles, are superfluous for most.

        I can pretty much put myself in that category when driving some of the cars we build around here. A gen-3 RX-7 with a LS376, has such high limits, it flat scares the hell out of me, as did my Sevenesque roadster with the same powerplant. After a romp in one of those vehicles, I have to run my MX-5, hard, to return some confidence in my abilities.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        For most it is about easy passing power, not the max speed. When it comes to V8s, I find the glorious soundtrack at least as much of a draw as the power.

        However, I can see being frustrated by how few of those 400 horses you can actually use on the street. Hell, my last car had 282 horses and I was annoyed by how infrequently I could exercise them. For the FRSBRZ, I think the mid-range flat spot, rather than peak power, might be why so many find it underwhelming.

        • 0 avatar

          > For the FRSBRZ, I think the mid-range flat spot, rather than peak power, might be why so many find it underwhelming.

          Probably true. When most people complain about “lack of power” what they really mean is mid-range grunt because they never rev out the engine anyway. Then again most people buy sports cars with an auto, so….

        • 0 avatar

          > Hell, my last car had 282 horses and I was annoyed by how infrequently I could exercise them.

          Absolutely, even on cars with weak low end by reading the traffic a bit you can still shift quite short (but full throttle) and easily fly past all cars incl. the middle age crisis 911’s. IOW, in practice even a civic is more than enough to be king of the road in daily drive.

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          Reg: “For most it is about easy passing power, not the max speed.”

          What I meant about ‘high limits’, is the amount of speed carried into a corner, not absolute top speeds.

          For Americans, use to torquey V-8’s, though, I suspect few and fewer Americans(NA), have actually driven one, it is about acceleration. Any high top speed left, is a bonus.

          If a vehicle can accelerate hard, corner hard, and have a very high top speed, and get good mileage, we have a great car… err! A Corvette.

          There are reflash’s available that will increase torque and add some HP as well as address drive-ability issues, though, I have never encountered the ‘Flat Spot’ In a Twin. Maybe when your on the pipe, it is not an issue. I have only driven once on the street and it was a twisty country hwy, the rest of my time has been track time and quite a few Auto-X runs.

          Upstream and downstream, bolt on mods are available for enhanced Torque and Hp delivery.

          http://www.horsepowerfreaks.com/performanceparts/scion/FR-S

          http://www.stillen.com/scion-fr-s-performance-parts-i-145.html

    • 0 avatar
      FJ60LandCruiser

      So this is just too much of a car for all of us who test drove one and found it lacking (we either lack the driving skill, don’t appreciate a corner, or feel that spending 5k on a turbo for a 25k underpowered and poorly assembled car–thereby voiding the warranty–is a good idea).

      The way the fans of this vehicle and the car media portrayed it is as if it’s the best kept secret of the automotive world–that there is some pleasure whipping the ever living hell out of a weak-ass four banger RWD coupe with a huge power gap at 2.5-5k RPM, which also happens to be riding on bicycle tires. Did I mention it buzzes and squeaks like a can full of washers under any form of duress, whether this is due to cheap construction materials, shoddy QC, or just the “fun factor” of driving a cheap car is anyone’s guess.

      Even the biggest fans of this car have a huge thread on the main web site about its many flaws and lack of support from Toyota about most of them.

      We all have fond memories of the last RWD Nissan 240s, Acura Integras and Honda Preludes. They were zippy and fun to drive cars back when 200 hp was a phenomenal figure, now we remember them as cheap and underpowered with fragile drivetrains. Thankfully, Toyota has brought those fond memories into the 21st century and offered a new version of these cars for all to experience.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        Actually, it really is quite fun.
        Mind you, I don’t have a history of daily-driving 300+hp cars.

        Moreover, unless your car salesman is a very cool guy, I don’t see how it is realistic to experience how fun a car can be in a short test drive. You will only see how the car behaves in mundane, A-to-B duty, which (admittedly) is not its strong suit (not that it behaves psychotically – but you’d be more comfortable in many cars out there).

        Mine doesn’t squeak or rattle, nor does it have any QC issues beyond the (Pioneer) navigation.

        That being said, it sucks to see Subaru and Toyota steadfastly refuse to give what the market demands (truly performance-oriented versions like an STi or a real TRD version, instead of cosmetic bits for ridiculous prices)

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        Reg; “all of us who test drove one and found it lacking”

        Had you attended one of Toyota’s track oriented ‘First Drive’ events, I’m almost sure you would have came away with a much different opinion of the capabilities of the FRS/BRZ. At the two events I attended, to a person, everybody wanted another shot at more seat time, even after their three times at the wheel. Grins and excitement abounded, not one complaint was heard. And a lot of the attendees showed up in performance cars, from ‘Z’s to Corvettes.

        At 13-1/2 pounds per horsepower, the FRS has plenty of scoot, way more scoot then the V-6 Mustangs and Camaro’s before the upgrades to 300+ hp a few years ago, and plenty of people bought those, especially the quite anemic V-6 Mustang.

        I lived quite enjoyably with my 328is with 190hp and my Miata’s with around 116hp and a few more horses, depending the year, though, the P/W remained nearly the same.

        let’s get real, a Twin with the power of a STI/WRX would add considerably to the cost of a Twin. Base Impreza’s are around $18,000. The Impreza WRX-STI runs around $35,000, a serious escalation of upfront cost. Are you willing to pay that for more power? Makes a $4,000 to $5,000 turbo kit, look cheap in comparison.

        Higher horsepower, saddles you with higher upfront cost, fuel cost, insurance cost, and maintenance and repair costs, shorter engine and downstream component life, not to mention all the ancillary costs like tires, brakes, etc. Careful what you wish for.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        “The way the fans of this vehicle and the car media portrayed it is as if it’s the best kept secret of the automotive world–that there is some pleasure whipping the ever living hell out of a weak-ass four banger RWD coupe with a huge power gap at 2.5-5k RPM, which also happens to be riding on bicycle tires. Did I mention it buzzes and squeaks like a can full of washers under any form of duress, whether this is due to cheap construction materials, shoddy QC, or just the “fun factor” of driving a cheap car is anyone’s guess.”

        It is a pleasure, according to all those people who bought a series 105 Alfa Romeo Giulia with a storming 98hp, or a 100hp BMW 2002, or a Datsun Fairlady/510, Toyota AE86, Mazda Miata, Lotus/MG/Triumph anything or any number of other “classic driver’s cars.” That was what it was supposed to be. Some like that, most don’t.

      • 0 avatar

        > The way the fans of this vehicle and the car media portrayed it is as if it’s the best kept secret of the automotive world–that there is some pleasure whipping the ever living hell out of a weak-ass four banger RWD coupe with a huge power gap at 2.5-5k RPM

        What’s going on here is that driving enthusiasts (as distinct from car enthusiasts) are claiming it’s a good driving car, meaning sharpness, balancing with throttle, etc. In that respect the Miata can be considered even better despite less power due to the hydraulic steering which is the on the twins.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Maybe Toyota/Subaru can retune the ECU? If not them, someone in the aftermarket must have done this by now.

    Since it sounds like a more powerful engine is off the table, make the best of the one you have. 200 hp in a car that light should be plenty, if you are willing to rev it. Making the power delivery more linear might help.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      ECU tuning is available that supposedly increases power noticeably, tunes out the torque dip, increases the redline, and improves fuel efficiency.

      I have no idea how such sorcery is accomplished.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        MotoIQ found large gains from the intake and exhaust being opened up. The intake in particular really chokes things off.

        They also lost all their gains because of using California gas, but that’s not something they could really control.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Looking over this thread and the same theme keeps coming up. Even among the people who cross-shopped the Toyobaru with the Mustang. They did not like the character of the car. They wanted it to be something else.

    I think this is at the core of both the debate around these cars in particular, and the internet car fandom issue in general. These cars were conceived as continuations of the small sports car concept which had existed since at least the 1930s. The entire point is that you have to beat the snot out of them to go anywhere. The thrill came not from being fast, but from having to drive them with spirit.

    Sports cars never sold well. This kind of car has a very narrow market niche and has ALWAYS received much criticism. One point that Derek made in his article, and which others (including me) have echoed in the comments is that the online car enthusiast community kept saying how much they wanted this kind of car. Then Toyota and Subaru actually built it, and this same global electronic community lambasted the car for not being all many of things which it was NEVER intended to be, or was NEVER economically possible.

    It was not supposed to be a Mustang, it was not supposed to be roomy enough to be a practical “only” car. It was never supposed to have a lot of power. It was never economically possible to have a nice interior. It was never economically possible to have a more powerful motor. The car had to meet x cost requirements, y fuel economy goals, z safety laws, and do it all with parts from the Subaru and Toyota parts bins so that x was possible in the first place. Yes, they could have done a turbo motor. Yes, they could have done a better interior. Yes, they could have done so much else. But not for 20 million yen retail. Which, with the exchange rate at the time (which was VERY different than the current exchange rate, which everyone forgets), led to the car being $25k.

    I’ve been reading a lot of interesting points about how the Mustang does all these other things better. That is laudable. But it also missed the point. The Toyobaru was never intended to do those things in the first place. So, if you are concerned about those things these cars make no sense. But the entire point of the Toyobaru was to articulate a specific idea of how to have fun while driving a car. It was not supposed to be fast. Nor to have a ton of grip (hence the tires chosen). It wasn’t intended to be practical. It’s a lot like music. The FR-S and BRZ a pair of songs in a niche genre which exist as essentially an artistic statement. We don’t have to like said art. We can critique it in the sense of what we would prefer. But to claim that it was a mistake or bad, because of the statement it makes, is to miss the point.

    The reaction from the online community teaches us two things. Firstly, it is impossible for a car company to satisfy this fan base with any car, and so treating “the online commentariat” as a source of knowledge to be consulted is a fool’s errand. They should be ignored under any and all circumstances.

    Secondly, thanks to the visual language of Gran Turismo, Top Gear and other UK press, and others, the global car enthusiast community has come to embrace less diverse views of what constitutes “fun.” If it can’t do a big, smokey drift, or go faster than a certain arbitrary speed, then it cannot be considered as being of any worth. The fact that many of the media figures at the heart of this viewpoint (one Jennifer Clarkson in particular) actually doesn’t feel that way is irrelevant. The entertainment they have presented has been taken as gospel, and alternative views have been sent to the margins. This has led to the car buying public shifting their car-buying preferences in general. The always small sports car demographic has shrunk considerably further. It may no longer be viable as a market niche. People will say online they are in love with the idea. But they will not or cannot support it with their wallets.

    The car industry is probably already well aware of this. But if they aren’t, they should be now. Toyota might have been able to do the FR-S because Akio can force the project through, but the business case is poor, and the market is shrinking. Better to do something else at work, and then buy one and play with it at home as a hobby.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      Thanks for your thoughtfully considered and unbiased comment.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Hmm, oddly enough though you seem to be making a point of ‘Jennifer’ Clarkson being responsible for building up a cultural clique among car enthusiasts that exists to decry the FRS/BRZ/GT86, Jezza himself actually loves the Toybaru twins and sang plenty of praises about them on Top Gear itself, for precisely the reasons why the enthusiast intelligentsia hates it. (Low power, skinny tires etc..)

      Meanwhile Mr. Regular has a disenting opinion on the ubiquitous V-6 ‘stang, saying for all the engine in that thing humiliates V-8s from 40 years ago as far as stat-sheets go it’s actually a joyless lump in the real world that takes too long to build-up RPM (I think the term used was ‘Filibusters it’s way through the rev range).

      It takes all kinds I guess.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        I know Clarkson loves it. I mentioned that. But his medium has blurred his message. Clarkson the car enthusiast is drowned out by Clarkson the Top Gear character.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          Its funny, the evolution of that show. Back when I started downloading it from the usenet in 2002 I learned something different from the boys…which you didn’t see in any US rag…flawed cars can bring great enjoyment. The logical best product isn’t always the “one you’d have” nobody did the hate-it-but-actually-love-it like Clarkson.


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