The Truth About Cars » subaru BRZ The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » subaru BRZ QOTD: Subaru BRZ Will Live To Fight Another Generation, Says Fuji Heavy Boss Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:24:57 +0000


“If I were to be told that, I’d pass out…It’s not going to be just one generation.”

-Fuji Heavy Industries President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga

Automotive News is reporting that the head of Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru, is denying reports that the Toyobaru twins will last one generation.

But as AN reports, Fuji Heavy boss Yasuyuki Yoshinaga has only said that Toyota and Subaru will work on a successor. If Toyota doesn’t want to proceed with Subaru, then Fuji won’t have enough volume to build a second generation car. I’d say that the matter is far from settled right now.

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Toyobaru Might Only Last For One Generation As Partnership Under Evaluation Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:07:52 +0000 FT86-Tada

The Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ may only exist for one generation, as comments by the car’s chief engineer suggest a dissolution of the partnership between Toyota and Subaru.

Speaking to an Australian outlet, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada was cryptic about whether a next-generation sports car would have Subaru’s involvement. Tada left open the possibility that the future alliance with BMW could yield an entirely new product, one that abandons the boxer layout for an inline engine or alternative powertrains.

Tada suggested that supercapacitors, like those used in Toyota’s LeMans effort, would provide a new solution for adding hybrid technology to a next-generation sports car. But Tada was adamant that turbocharging is not an avenue he wanted to pursue, stating

The trend of powertrains is of course downsizing and turbo charging, but my opinion is to retain natural aspiration in the future.”

Adding hybrid technology would allow the future sports car to keep its N/A engine while adding power and reducing its emissions and fuel consumption. But in the near-term, Tada’s team is exploring ways to improve performance of the current car, including more displacement, better intake and exhausts and even a revised final drive ratio.

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Slow Sales Of Scion FR-S Disappoint Toyota, Jeopardize Engine Upgrades Wed, 19 Feb 2014 22:40:23 +0000 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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2013 Tokyo Motor Show: BRZ Based Subaru Cross Sport Design Concept Wed, 20 Nov 2013 05:18:15 +0000 subaru_cross_sport_design_concept_01-1120-m-610x450

Not many details have been released so far about the Subaru Cross Sport Design concept, which the company says is a combination of “sport” and “utility” and features “easy seat access, a comfortable interior, and abundant luggage space” and it’s supposed to show the direction forward for urban SUVs. They also could have said that it’s a stretched, jacked up BRZ station wagon, since with a horizontally opposed engine up front driving the back wheels, the Cross Sport Design is based on the sports car platform shared by Toyota/Scion and Subaru. It weighs 2,750 lbs and is 169.3 inches long, 2.6″ longer than the BRZ. It has a two part rear decklid that reveals a wood paneled floor when opened. No word yet on whether or not it will be produced, but with all the companies rushing to sell compact crossovers, it conceivably could be Subaru’s cheaper alternative to the new Porsche Macan.


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Cain’s Segments: The Toyobaru Twins Thu, 07 Nov 2013 13:00:39 +0000 TTAC-FRS-Essential

It’s been a year-and-a-half, and the Toyobaru twins have not lost their luster. Proximity has not made the heart grow less fond. American sports car consumers still want to buy the Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ.

In the case of the lower-volume Subaru, the desire is growing at an especially fast rate.

Shortly after sports cars and coupes and roadsters debut, we expect to see demand tail off. Deep-seated anticipation leads many customers to buy early. Perhaps their orders were already in, maybe they only need a five-minute test drive. And we did see this with both the FR-S and BRZ. FR-S volume has never risen as high as it did in the car’s first full month, June 2012, when 2684 were sold. BRZ sales have twice stepped ahead of the early level, but only after many months went by. BRZ volume fell 39% from June 2012’s 818 units in July 2012. Again, this outcome was anticipated and thus it was tolerated.

Fortunately, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ levelled off afterwards, at the very least. Scion averaged 1441 FR-S sales per month over the second half of 2012, 1547 FR-S sales in Q1 of 2013, 1794 in Q2, and 1582 U.S. sales in Q3.

The BRZ averaged 509 sales per month in the second half of 2012, never falling below 402 units; never rising above 623. Subaru dealers then averaged 596 sales per month in the first quarter of 2013, 760 sales in Q2, and 759 in Q3.

Your pressure is fine, Toyobaru. Both diastolic and systolic are within statistical norms.

This kind of sure and steady improvement has been known to occur with other new coupes. On a longer-term scale, Dodge has consistently sold more Challengers each and every year since the muscle car debuted in 2008.

On the other hand, Mazda watched as sales of the MX-5 tumbled year after year from 2006 until 2011 – a 66% drop over that span – before rising only slightly in 2012 and then falling again in 2013. We’re judging a fairly brief period with the BRZ and FR-S, and their rawness could limit appeal over the long haul. In the here and now, however, it’s safe to say that for each of these two cars to have succeeded there must have been more than hype on their side.

Yet the method by which we measure success depends a great deal on how we view a car’s competitive set. We know the FR-S isn’t supposed to sell as often as a Camry, but establishing the kinds of cars with which the FR-S and BRZ are most likely to be cross-shopped is a task for owners of crystal balls. Will you consider an FR-S and a Genesis Coupe, a BRZ and a WRX, an FR-S and a Camaro, a BRZ and an MX-5, an FR-S and a 1-Series?

We’ve displayed a plethora of possible opponents in the accompanying table for you to peruse. There’s no doubt that American car buyers turn to (sometimes Canadian-built) American muscle cars in very high numbers. Many more buyers want two doors but prefer a softer, gentler, front-wheel-drive warm hatch.

We should also take the time to consider a wider-ranging field. In the grand scheme of things, in terms of different types of cars which left showroom floors in 2013, how do the overall numbers for the FR-S and BRZ measure up? Combined sales of the BRZ and FR-S reached 23,126 units between January and October.

Lincoln sold 26,684 MKZs during that ten-month period. Cadillac sold 26,472 XTS sedans. Acura sold 21,057 TLs. Toyota Yaris sales fell 24% to 20,029. Volvo sold 20,008 S60s. The Chevrolet Volt, America’s 71st-best-selling car this year, found 18,782 buyers. The Nissan Leaf is just 704 sales back of the Volt.

On an individual basis, for every Porsche 911 sold, Scion sells nearly two copies of the FR-S. Mazda 6 volume is more than twice as high as FR-S volume. The BRZ sells about twice as often as the Scion iQ and more than three times as often as the BMW Z4.

The Lincoln MKZ, of course, isn’t a Scion FR-S rival, even though TTAC’s managing editor doesn’t become weak-in-the-knees over either car. Nevertheless, if we’re trying to gauge popularity, if we’re trying to acquire a clearer understanding of the frequency of a BRZ sale, paying attention to other successes and failures is of some benefit.

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.

Audi A5
1487 1308 + 13.7% 15,975 14,313 + 11.6%
BMW 1-Series
588 778 - 24.4% 5482 6313 - 13.2%
Chevrolet Camaro
5669 5122 + 10.7% 70,484 74,090 - 4.9%
Dodge Challenger
3256 2686 + 21.2% 45,833 36,309 + 26.2%
Ford Mustang
6918 5328 + 29.8% 66,083 72,149 - 8.4%
Honda CR-Z
325 244 + 33.2% 3871 3705 + 4.5%
Hyundai Veloster
2175 2464 - 11.7% 25,448 30,802 - 17.4%
Infiniti G37
Coupe/Convertible & Q60
657 718 - 8.5% 8816 11,004 - 19.9%
Mazda MX-5 Miata
377 461 - 18.2% 5167 5542 - 6.8%
Mini Cooper
(Hardtop, Convertible,
Clubman, Coupe, Roadster)
3145 4053 - 22.4% 35,519 37,239 - 4.6%
Nissan 370Z
537 383 + 40.2% 5648 6482 - 12.9%
Scion FR-S
1233 1107 + 11.4% 16,000 8572 + 86.7%
Scion tC
1499 1654 - 9.4% 16,505 19,790 - 16.6%
Subaru BRZ
780 402 + 94.0% 7126 3120 + 128%
Subaru Impreza WRX/STi
1356 1100 + 23.3% 14,782 10,629 + 39.1%
Volkswagen Golf GTI
1032 966 + 6.8% 11,287 14,226 - 20.7%
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Evo Finds Out What’s Faster: Fiesta ST Or FR-S Wed, 26 Jun 2013 18:58:53 +0000

When Jack Baruth took the Scion FR-S to the track and pronounced it the least desirable among its chief rivals, some readers were despondent. How could the car that would supposedly provide good care for the sick and slow the rise of the oceans be ranked dead last against a hairdresser’s car and a Korean Pony Car?

EVO Magazine stands as one of the few outlets that hasn’t bought into the Toyobaru hype either. A prior test against a Renaultsport Megane 265 Trophy was fair less charitable than the ST vs GT86 shootout above. Even so, the latest shootout has a Ford Fiesta ST, a front drive hot hatch that’s down on displacement and outright power, handing the Toyota GT86 its ass.

Now, EVO’s Dickie Meaden says that the GT86 is much more fun – the same rationale we used to rank the MX-5 in first place, despite being the slowest car and rolling in the corners like a Coachella reveler high on MDMA. Fun counts for a lot. Unless you are a real HPDE 1 hero or, an auto journalist, your lap times really count for very little in the real world. But it’s worth noting that the lead the ST established over the GT86 is pretty big. And the Fiesta ST seems to shake a tail just fine, even if it is “wrong wheel drive”. We know the Toyobarus are fun cars and capable track cars. If anything, this suggests that the Fiesta ST should be an absolute riot, and perhaps even better than the Focus ST.

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Toyota Engineer Reveals Plans For More Sports Cars Tue, 09 Oct 2012 16:08:37 +0000

No, this isn’t another lame rumor-mongering post based on idle speculation; Toyota’s own Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer for the 86, confirmed to Top Gear that two more sports cars are in the pipeline.

According to Tada, the two new products will book-end the 86 at both the lower and higher priced segments.

“The first is more mass-market and cheaper than the 86,” Tada revealed. “And the third is more upmarket than the 86.”

Tada says that he is still “conceptualizing” the cars, which is considered the start of a five year process. The only detail that can be confirmed is that the larger car apparently won’t be a hybrid.

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Review: 2013 Scion FR-S Tue, 11 Sep 2012 14:00:21 +0000 We’ve already looked at the FR-S, but I came of car-driving age just minutes before the heyday of the Toyota AE86 and, by God, I’m going to write about any car that claims to be an homage to the car that stands as the ’55 Chevy of Japan. So, I got on the horn with Toyota PR: “Hey, Moe, it’s Murilee Martin. Yeah, that Murilee Martin. Listen, I’m heading out to the East Bay next weekend and I need something that won’t embarrass me when I need to out-donut the Glasshouse Caprices at the sideshows in Oakland, know what I’m saying? Sure, the FR-S sounds good!”
Actually, given that automotive PR guys probably assume that car writers treat their cars like gorillas all jacked up on adrenachrome-and-Douglas Fir liqueur cocktails, I probably could have said exactly those words and it wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows. In reality, though, I was coming out to California to visit family and spend a day tailgating before an Oakland Athletics game. I picked up the car at the Oakland Airport and was parked next to the Faster Farms 1966 Plymouth Belvedere race car and eating barbecued meat products about five minutes later.
Since the airport and the ballpark are about two miles from each other, I didn’t get much chance to do any real driving right away. However, I did do a real-world trunk-capacity test right away, and learned that you can fit two good-sized suitcases with no hassle. The back seat provides additional cargo space; you won’t be putting any passengers back there, but we’ll return to that subject a bit later.
So, I had about five hours of tailgating time to examine the details of the car and discuss them with my super-geeked-out car-expert friends. I’ve driven, ridden in, and wrenched on quite a few AE86s, and this car looks nothing whatsoever like the Hachi-roku. This is good, because there’s something depressing about car companies exhuming the long-dead corpses of their past and using them to hawk modern machinery.
Once you start looking at the details, you’ll find many more cues that point to Subaru rather than Toyota. The boxer-4 engine, of course, is straight-up Subaru.
The build tag shows that the car was built by Fuji Heavy Industries, the interior materials feel much more Subaru-ish than Toyota-esque, and the inner fenders are stamped SUBARU.
On that subject, everybody, including me, refers to this car as a Toyota, which is as good an indication as any that the Scion brand hasn’t sunk deep roots in the car-buying public’s consciousness.
Here’s a little detail that says a lot about the philosophical differences between German, Japanese, and American automotive engineers. My friend Shawn, of Junkyard Build Quality Challenge fame, pointed out this anti-honk box attached to the air cleaner housing. Anti-honk boxes (or whatever the technical term is— anti-resonance chamber?) change the volume of the engine’s air-intake tract so as to avoid unpleasant audio resonance at certain engine speeds and loads. The Detroit carmakers don’t really care if your sub-$30k car’s engine makes a noise like a seasick rhinoceros sometimes— just shoot some more insulation on the firewall, problem solved! German engineers can’t tolerate the idea of engine honk, so they redesign the entire intake system if necessary. Toyota and Subaru, however, looked at their budget for this car, calculated the cost of modifying the parts-bin air cleaner (which was probably taken off the Impreza or Corolla or whatever high-production-level part came closest to fitting), and opted for the addition of a simple anti-honk box. I’d planned on stuffing a sock into the anti-honk box’s inlet and seeing how bad the honk really was, but ran out of time.
I always like to nose around under the hood of a new car, to get a sense of what corners were cut. The electrical connectors looked to be of pretty high quality— both Subaru and Toyota have always been good about not pinching yen too ruthlessly in that department— but I noticed a few things that you wouldn’t expect to see on even the cheapest Toyota. For example, these plastic headlight-assembly brackets. A few years of underhood heat will make them fragile, and then someone leaning over the hood will put a knee into the headlight and snap the brackets. This is the sort of thing you expect from Chrysler, circa 1991, not Toyota or Subaru.
Likewise, who uses these Manny, Moe, and Jack-grade, 1952-technology hose clamps nowadays?
My first real complaint about the FR-S came up when I decided to crank up some Ant Banks on the sound system, for the enjoyment of my tailgating companions. This is the 21st century, you can buy full-featured MP3 players direct from China for, like, $6.59, and there’s really no excuse for a factory stereo with alleged iPod interface to be such a pain in the ass to navigate.
Then there’s the quality of the sound system itself; the demographic most likely to buy this car is going to insist on some serious boom, and the standard 300-watt Panasonic system delivers less bass than the junkyard setup I stuffed into my ’92 Civic for a total investment of 25 bucks. Definitely not Tigra and Bunny- approved. I had to stick with no-thud-required stuff (e.g., the Dead Kennedys) for the soundtrack of my East Bay visit.
The day after the A’s tailgate party, I decided to take the FR-S on a tour of all my favorite East Bay wrecking yards (you can see the results in the most recent Junkyard Find posts). Junkyards are almost always in areas with terribly potholed roads, and I learned right away that you don’t want to set the car in the stiff “VSC Sport” mode on such roads. I needed a junkyard taco-truck meal just to settle my stomach after getting a beating that felt like sitting in a trash can being dragged over railroad ties.
Even normal highway driving is pretty miserable when in Sport mode, and the car hangs onto the pavement far beyond my admittedly meager driving abilities when taking freeway interchanges at fun speeds anyway, even with all the stability- and traction-control nannies in full effect. The ride is plenty firm when in non-sport mode, but it’s like a comfy Barcalounger next to the bouncy, noisy original AE86. The FR-S would make a completely non-punitive commuter, unless your idea of commuting comfort was derived from the 1974 Cadillac Sedan DeVille.
Another minor quibble that would be a bigger deal if I were driving this car in the Ivy Mike-level bright sun of Denver: the windshield reflections off the reflective dashboard surface. I thought the car companies solved this problem 15 years ago.
Right, so what’s this thing like to drive? It took me a while to figure it out, but after a few hours of horsing around in empty industrial areas of East Oakland I realized that the FR-S isn’t an homage to the original AE86. It’s an homage to the heavily modified drifter/tuner AE86s of the last decade.
The original Corolla GT-S (or Sprinter Trueno, or whatever you want to call it) was a spindly, 2,200-pound econobox of simple construction that was fitted with a pretty-good-for-the-mid-80s 112-horsepower L4 engine. Adding a bunch of power— which, of course, just about every AE86 owner has done by now— turns the car into a real handful, a parts-busting beast that’s eager to wrap itself around the nearest utility pole.
So, the 2,700-pound, 200-horsepower FR-S is to the drifter AE86 as the SRT8 Challenger is to the tunnel-rammed-440-equipped street-racer Challenger of the early 1970s. Just as the new Challenger turns once-difficult burnouts, convenience-store-parking-lot donuts, and 12-second quarter-mile passes into accomplishments that any idiot can pull off with almost no practice, so does the FR-S put all the dorifto moves of Initial D into the grasp of just about any schlub. You want to wow the kids in the mall parking lot with a perfect 180-degree E-brake turn on your first attempt? The FR-S will oblige. In fact, this car makes the previous E-Brake Turn Champion of the World (a rented Chevy Cobalt in a badly paved racetrack paddock) seem uncontrollable by comparison.
The same goes for moves that require you to blow away the rear tires and slide around like an idiot. Turn off the traction control, cock the wheel a bit, get on the gas, and you’ll be drifting around like some dude who killed a dozen Nissan 240SXs as the price for learning his skills.
My prediction: When these cars depreciate enough to put them within reach of the 16-to-22-year-old crowd, say ten years from now, look out! We’re going to see FR-Ss upside-down, on fire, and/or T-boned-into signposts wherever teenagers gather.
For the grownups who don’t care much about Japanese street-racing fads, the FR-S will make a pretty good weekday commuter/weekend autocross car. I didn’t have as much fun driving it as I did with the Mazda RX-8 (the Mazda feels lighter and less like a drag racer), but the FR-S manages to get nearly double the fuel-economy of the Wankel-powered machine, while being several orders of magnitude better-looking. If you want the opinion of Jack “The Ohio Player” Baruth, who is capable of going quickly around a race track in most un-car-journo-ish fashion, on the FR-S’s racetrack prowess, go here.
Something felt strangely familiar about the FR-S as I drove it from junkyard to junkyard, and then it hit me: the stiff, super-short-throw shifter and gargly boxer engine sound might as well have been swapped directly from my wife’s ’04 Subaru Outback. Once again, the FR-S feels more like a Fuji Heavy Industries product than a Toyota product.
I approve of the semi-old-timey-looking instrument cluster, though the weirdly centered speedometer is more or less useless (there’s a digital speed display inside the tach).
The racy-style front seats are great for hurling the car through tight turns and they’re quite comfortable in spite of the goofy-looking thick red stitching; more to the point, they look like the kind of aftermarket component that generations of Hachi-roku owners have bolted into their cars.
The sill plates have this puzzling polka-dot motif, which is carried over to the pedals.
The back seat, well, isn’t. My 12-year-old niece, who’s about 4′ 8″ tall and skinny, couldn’t find a way to sit comfortably in the back of the FR-S. The rear seat area should work well for grocery bags, though, and you can use the seat belts to keep the bags from sliding around as you execute a psychotic power-slide all the way across the Safeway parking lot.
The HVAC controls are uncomplicated, which is good, but the control mechanisms feel crappier than what I’m used to on Toyota cars.
While on my tour of the industrial East Bay, I happened upon this parked mid-80s Cressida. Note the size similarity between the roomy luxury car and the snug sporty car. Also note that the Cressida is sittin’ on some bullshit compared to the Scion.
The FR-S is still small when parked next to a ’66 Belvedere. My verdict on the FR-S: I could drive this thing every day and be very happy with it, but I’d expect Subaru reliability instead of the (historically superior) Toyota version. At $24,997 as tested, the FR-S has a pretty good bang-for-buck ratio… but I’d also take a long look at the similarly priced Miata before I bought one.

49 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 14 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 15 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 16 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 17 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 18 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 19 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 20 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 21 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 22 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 23 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 24 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 25 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 26 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 27 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 28 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 29 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 30 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 31 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 32 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 33 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 34 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 35 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 36 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 37 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 38 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 39 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 40 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 41 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 42 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 43 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 44 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 45 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 46 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 47 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 48 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 76
Honda Civic Si Dominates Subaru BRZ In Track Test Thu, 16 Aug 2012 19:03:14 +0000

AutoGuide’s twin team of track terror, time-trialer Dave Pratte and editor Colum Wood, have returned to Toronto Motorsports Park to take the Subaru BR-Z and the Honda Civic Si to the extreme limit and beyond. What did they find?

Click here to view the embedded video.

“Truth be told,” Pratte notes, “it takes an experienced FWD pilot to get the most out of the Honda, because techniques like trail braking and left foot braking aren’t taught during high school driver’s ed.” That’s true! So how does the Civic Si, in limited edition “HFP” trim, fare against the car that AutoGuide has already rated above the Genesis 2.0t?

Here’s where things get really interesting. Based on the lap times recorded with our Vbox data acquisition and timing system, there was just 1/10th of a second difference between these two pocket rockets, with the Civic Si HFP posting a 1-minute 26.5-second best lap and the BRZ coming in at 1-minute 26.6-seconds. That’s by far the closest battle we’ve ever had in one of these track-based comparos, a result made all the more intriguing by how differently these two machines went about their business.

That is definitely a close battle. Think about how quick a tenth of a second is!

You might be wondering which one of these cars won the comparison test. It’s not easy to choose between them.

So if there’s so little between them around a race track, which car would I plunk my $27k down on? That’s a tough call, because despite their similarities they couldn’t be more different in character and design…

With the lap times little help in determining the better performer, I honestly don’t know which one would end up in my driveway, but for most consumers out there I suspect the decision will be quite easy given just how different these two excellent and appealing sport compact offerings really are.

You could say that both of these sporty import coupes are the winners of this comparison test! In the meantime, BRZ intenders who live north of the border should be warned: there’s another great choice out there for you, and it comes chock-full of efficiency and passenger space! For the complete test, check it out!

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Toyobaru Hype: We’ve Hit Peak Bullshit Fri, 20 Jul 2012 15:06:42 +0000

As if the absurdly hyperbolic headline “The day the world changed” wasn’t enough of a tip-off , the hype machine for the Toyobaru twins has officially reached its zenith, with Wheels magazine’s Peter Robinson declaring the Japanese-spec Toyota 86 to be superior to the Porsche Cayman.

Reading Robinson’s article, it’s as if I’d experienced a different car than the two FR-S’ I’d already driven. Robinson rhetorically muses on whether the transmission is “…the best manual gearchange ever” (Not a chance) and praises the Toyobaru’s steering as being better than the Cayman’s. If you want to feel like you’re driving Polyphony Digital’s approximation of what a Miata feels like, then yes, it’s wonderful. Reading the rest of the article, you’d think that this car could cure cancer, re-ignite the spark in your floundering marriage and make your hairline stop receding.

When I wrote my first article on the hype surrounding this car, I was partly dismayed because I was prepared to go and buy one, with my own money – not as some corporate (or freebie) long-term tester. The reviews I’d read beforehand led me to believe that this was the one we had all been waiting for, the affordable sports car that would set the competition on fire and usher in a new era of focused, rear-drive machines that a punk like me could realistically afford. I tempered my expectations, hoping it was merely a blast to drive, rather than the Second Coming of Christ, but even then, the experience left something to be desired.

Make no mistake; it’s a good car. We need cars like this, badly. It really is light, nimble and engaging, it looks sharp and it’s priced accessibly. And yet, I couldn’t really connect with the car. I began to empathize with the reviewers who felt that the original Lexus LS400 was a well-made simulacrum of a European luxury sedan, but without the essential intangibles that make the car a superlative experience rather than just “good”.

Some people seem to think that I have a particular axe to grind with this car, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My issue is that the breathless praise of the Toyobaru is harmful to the car itself. The Toyobaru has numerous flaws that keep it from being truly great, but there’s no honor in obscuring them. The engine is a dud, there are instances of embarrassing corner-cutting evident in places that most people don’t look and the dynamics of the car feel more digital than analog – something that may be unavoidable in this era, but it remains a sore spot as long as the MX-5, with its hydraulic steering, frenetic I4 engine and unassailable manual gearbox exists in its current form. Even Randy Pobst, in his recent Motor Trend comparo, felt that the twins lagged behind the MX-5 in subjective driving pleasure.

From that vantage point, comparing it to a Cayman is asinine. The Cayman is better in every single respect, period. It’s also exponentially more expensive, built to a much higher standard and therefore, should be better. Robinson’s insistence to the contrary is disingenuous, and no amount of “everyone has their own opinion” is going to convince me otherwise. It’s a blatant falsehood, like assertions that the Hyundai Equus is superior to the Lexus LS. Both are fine vehicles, but one is simply better than the other, and I can’t ignore it. Would I go and buy the Equus to save some money and get an almost-as-capable car? You bet. But I wouldn’t delude myself into thinking I bought a superior car. Instead I’d be satisfied with the value proposition and the anonymity, and leave it at that. Nobody is cross-shopping the Toyobaru and the Cayman the same way – the car is a stepping stone to Porsche ownership, one that’s been sorely missed in the market. Why pretend otherwise? I’m perfectly content with accepting the Toyobaru on that premise, with all the compromises it entails. But trying to portray it as a “giant killer” or whatever hyperbolic turn-of-phrase is en vogue right now will only induce eye-rolls and lead to unmet expectations. Lest we forget the Camaro and how opinions changed once the rose-tinted glasses came off  a year later.

Fanboyism always plays out the same way. Lacking any concrete or meaningful pursuits to identify with, people hitch their emotional and even spiritual well-being to manufactured brands and entities. They invest themselves in them with literally a religious fervor, and any attack on their chosen entity is taken as blasphemy. Movie critics are getting death threats over poor reviews of the newest Batman flick, and auto journalists are unwilling to give a sober analysis of this car, save for the lads at Evo magazine. Nonwithstanding all the insinuations about being blackballed, my experience has shown me that few journalists (but many readers) are willing to stand up and say “The Emperor has no clothes” when a car doesn’t live up to the hype.

The Toyobaru, at least, isn’t naked.

Postscript: I’ve seen comments on various forums alleging this review was bought and paid for – I promise you, dear reader, it’s not. This is the work of an overly enthusiastic journalist who is either using hyperbole as a literary crutch, or is so self-deluded that they have the gall to run this story without a hint of irony.

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Subaru BRZ Already Comes With Cash On The Hood Tue, 10 Jul 2012 16:43:57 +0000

While the Scion FR-S is performing well in its initial months of sales, the lower volume Subaru BRZ already has some cash on the hood, to the tune of $400.

While the BRZ was never intended to be the volume seller, the slightly pricier BRZ moved 818 units in June, compared to 2,684 examples of the FR-S. Data from TrueCar, provided to USA Today, shows a $400 incentive for the BRZ, which seems fairly early for a brand new, well-hyped sports car so early on in its life.

One area where the BRZ has the FR-S beat is transaction price. While the BRZ carries a price premium of $1,315 over the FR-S (which stickers for $24,930 for the manual, or $26,030 for the automatic), the BRZ’s average transaction price is a fair bit higher; $29,085 for BRZ, versus $25,653 for the FR-S. The Scion only comes with one trim level and a few options, while the BRZ is available in two trim levels, with both models featuring more equipment than their Scion sibling. Given the respective demographics of Scion and Subaru, the transaction price discrepancy isn’t so shocking. Though some of our xB owning readers will surely beg to differ, the odds of an FR-S owner working at McDonalds to pay the car note is far higher than that of someone buying a BRZ.

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Scion FR-S Sells Well, But It’s Early Fri, 06 Jul 2012 16:55:22 +0000

So often we hear analysts and fans excuse a car’s poor initial sales performance with a phrase like, “But it’s early.” Oddly, the very same phrase is legitimately used when discussing a new car’s surprisingly successful first month. In just its second month on sale, in just its first full month on sale, the Scion FR-S did not sell poorly.

Rarely has a car generated such an avid fan base before any independent testing had been completed. In a market that’s been starved by the disappearance of the Toyota Celica, Acura Integra, Honda Prelude, and Mazda RX-8; insulted by the long hiatus of Ford’s performance-oriented Focus; and offended by the weight gain of Mitsubishi’s Eclipse, a lightweight rear-wheel-drive sports car is a gift at $25,000.

Not that they’re direct rivals, but so-called sports sedans like the Volvo S60, Lexus IS, Acura TSX did not sell as frequently as the Scion last month. Mini’s best-selling variant, the Cooper and Cooper S hardtop, sold 2601 times in June. Volkswagen sold 1508 GTI hatchbacks plus 447 copies of the Golf R. Subaru Impreza WRX sales jumped 72% to 1138. Scion tC sales climbed 4% to 2128. The rear-wheel drive BMW 1-Series found 701 buyers. Sales of the Mazda MX-5 Miata improved 30% to 659. Honda CR-Z sales slid 58% to 409 units. Besides the American muscle car trio, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe (numbers for which are folded into the Genesis’s 3374-unit total), and the curious Hyundai Veloster, 3232 of which were sold in June, the FR-S fared better than other sporting cars.

As the best-selling Scion in June, FR-S sales reached 2684 units. That’s 32% of Scion’s U.S. total. Incidentally, in its first Canadian sales month, the FR-S delivered 51% of Scion’s volume.

Would a potential FR-S buyer consider acquiring a Mustang instead? Regardless, sales of the Ford pony car surged to 10,263 in June. Chevrolet Camaro sales rose to 9123. Dodge sold 4009 Challengers, marking that car’s best ever June.

One car we know to be a direct rival of the FR-S is the virtually identical Subaru BRZ. 271 BRZs left dealers in May, another 818 in June. Subaru never intended the BRZ to be the comparatively high-volume car that Scion’s FR-S now clearly is.

But it’s early. And to quote another painful analyst phrase, “Only time will tell.”

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The Scion FR-S And The Problem With Hype Tue, 26 Jun 2012 17:05:31 +0000

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Then, just a few months later:

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

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

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

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

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Pre-Production Review: 2013 Scion FR-S Wed, 09 May 2012 13:00:49 +0000

Scion has had a sordid past. Originally, Scion was Toyota’s solution to a lack of 18-25 year old shoppers. Over the past 9 years however Scion has lost their way and lost their youth. Their median buyer just turned 42. The tC coupe, which started out as a car for college kids, now has a median buyer of around 30. Scion claims the FR-S is a halo car – to me, that means the FR-S will be bought by older drivers (who can actually afford it), attracting younger buyers to their showrooms. Despite being out of the target demographic, Scion flew me to Vegas to sample the FR-S’s sexy lines to find out.

The rear-drive layout, boxer engine and low center of gravity all play out in the car’s distinctive exterior. Toyota claims it was meant to pay homage to classic Toyotas of the past, but if Porsche and Lotus were charged with penning a Scion, this is what it would look like. Our time with the FR-S was limited to a 100 mile drive and about 6 hours of SCCA style autocross and road course track time in a pre-production FR-S. Jack will be flogging a production FR-S on track sometime this summer, assuming the stars align.

Inside, Scion opted for snazzy faux-suede instead of the coarse fabric of the base Subaru BRZ (the BRZ is available with  leather/faux-suede seating in the Limited model). Scion also swapped out the silver dash trim for something that looks like it might be imitating carbon fiber but is actually a motif based on the letter “T.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Like all Scion models, the standard radio is a Pioneer unit with standard Bluetooth and iPod/USB interfaces. Instead of bringing Toyota’s Entune system to the Scion brand, Pioneer was engaged to bring their “App Radio” into what appears to be its first OEM use. Unlike traditional nav systems, the “BeSpoke” system (as Scion is calling it) is essentially just an iPhone app. The app runs solely on your phone and the head unit merely controls the app and displays the video generated by the phone. This means an iPhone is required for it work (Android phones are not supported.) It also means navigating eats up your data plan and you must be in a cellular service area for it to work. The system is expected to cost under $90 and since it’s an App on your phone, it’s never out of date. Much like iDrive, BeSpoke will also offer Facebook, Twitter and internet radio integration.

Under the lies the fruit of the Subaru/Toyota marriage: a 2.0L direct-injection boxer engine. Although it’s based on Subaru’s Impreza engine, it has been re-engineered to incorporate Toyota’s “D4S” direct-injection tech. The addition of GDI boosts power by 52HP to 200HP. Since the engine is naturally aspirated, the torque improvement is a more modest 6lb-ft bringing the total 151 at a lofty 6,600 RPM, while peak horsepower comes in at seven grand. Despite the online rumors, Scion Vice President Jack Hollis indicated there will be no turbo FR-S.

Since the FR-S is intended to be “baby’s first track car,” Scion’s event was held at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort in Pahrump, Nevada. Out on the track, the FR-S isn’t as slow as an early Miata, but it’s not especially quick either. However, the low center of gravity and light curb weight make the FR-S fairly adept in the corners, whether you’re on track or on an autocross course. The lack of torque is the one major blight, whether on or off track. This deficiency was made more obvious by my trip landing in the middle of a week with Hyundai’s 2013 Genesis 2.0T which delivers more power at far more accessible RPMs, despite its porkier stature.

Unlike most “sporty” RWD cars, the FR-S is tuned toward neutral/oversteer characteristics. When combined with the standard Michelin Primacy HP tires, the FR-S is far more tail happy on the track than the V6 Mustang or Genesis 2.0T. The lively handling is undoubtedly more fun, but inexperienced drivers beware:  getting sideways can be hazardous to your health, not to mention your insurance premiums. Without empirical numbers, I cannot say if the FR-S will out-handle the Genesis 2.0T on the track, however the Genesis feels more composed and less likely to kill you, thanks to a chassis tuned towards understeer and staggered 225/245 series tires (front/rear.) Contrary to the web-rumors, the FR-S is not shod with “Prius tires” as we would know them. The Primacy HP is a “grand touring summer tire” with “lower rolling resistance” tech added. The tire is used on certain Lexus GS, Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6 models and a JDM market only Prius “with performance pack.” Still, the tire isn’t as “grippy” as the FR-S deserves, so buyers should plan on swapping them for stickier rubber ASAP.

Scion’s “single-price with dealer installed options” philosophy continues. Starting at $24,930, the only options are: $1,100 for the automatic transmission, around $900 for the BeSpoke radio and a variety of wheels, spoilers and other appearance accessories. That’s about $1,295 less than the BRZ, although the gap narrows to almost nothing when you add the BRZ’s standard navigation system and HID headlamps. The nicer standard upholstery, more controlled pricing and a plethora of manufacturer supported (and warrantied) accessories make the FR-S a compelling choice vs the BRZ, but speed daemons will want to drive past the Scion dealer and test drive the Genesis 2.oT. If you want an FR-S, be prepared to wait as Scion expects supplies to be somewhat limited starting June 1st.

 Scion flew me out to Vegas, put me up in a smoky casino and provided the vehicle, insurance, gasoline, track time and admission to the state park for the photography.

 Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.6 Seconds

0-60: 6.7 Seconds

Fuel Economy: 22MPG average over mixed roads (track time not included)


2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Scion logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, FR-S logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Boxer Engine Logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors 2013 Scion FR-S, Interior, seats and dash, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors 2013 Scion FR-S, Interior, center console, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors 2013 Scion FR-S, Interior, seats, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors 2013 Scion FR-S, 2.0L boxer engine, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail


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Subaru FA20 Turbo Engine Debuts. Start Dreaming About A Boosted BRZ. Tue, 08 May 2012 17:42:39 +0000

Even with vehement denials of a boosted Subaru BRZ, Subaru has still managed to debut a turbocharged version of the 2.0L Boxer engine.  And just because the BRZ won’t get it doesn’t mean other products won’t.

Set to debut first in the Legacy, the new engine makes 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft but comes mated to a joyless CVT gearbox. Womp womp!

The FA20 Turbo motor does away with the Toyota D4-S system and gets a true DI system instead. Expect this engine to appear, with a manual gearbox, in the next generation WRX, and perhaps in a higher state of tune for the WRX STI. And who knows…maybe it will end up in a turbocharged BRZ, or Scion FR-S.

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Motor Trend Pits Ford Mustang V6 Versus Subaru BRZ Fri, 04 May 2012 20:37:40 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

Motor Trend had Randy Pobst take the Ford Mustang V6 and the Subaru BRZ out on track. With predictable results.

I’ve yet to drive the BRZ, but I have driven all versions of the Mustang. I love the look, the sound and the performance, but I’ve never been entirely comfortable driving them at speed. It’s more likely a reflection of my own limitations and biases than the car’s capabilities, but I the Mustang’s steering feel and overall heft never really gelled with me on track, though the power has always been there. I feel far more comfortable behind the wheel of a Hyundai Genesis or BMW 3-Series in those environments. That said, the Mustang is far and away my favorite pony car. A V6 Mustang, despite its quantitative superiority over many similarly-priced cars, would never make my list of “must haves” but add two cylinders, and the extra expense, fuel consumption and weight over the front tires suddenly becomes worth it just for the sound alone.


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Generation Why: If You Are Under 25 Or An Idiot, Please Don’t Buy A Scion FR-S Or Subaru BRZ Sat, 21 Apr 2012 13:00:45 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

With the release of the SciBaru FRZ just weeks away, everyone’s been caught up in the sticker price, available options and aftermarket support for the car, but nobody has asked a crucial question; what about insurance?

Insurance premiums tend to vary by jurisdiction, but under-25 males (such as myself) always suffer from financial trauma when trying to insure anything remotely interesting. In some places, paying double digits to insure a Corvette Z06 is considered robbery. Here in Ontario, anything under $150 a month for a young person is a steal, and the cars that can be insured for that little are not even remotely cool.

I don’t really care whether the FR-S/BRZ will drift easily or not, but I know lots of people will. There will be a percentage of people who will confine their behind-the-wheel adventures to the track, but there will also be another percentage that will attempt to play Formula D on public roads, or engage in other forms of reckless behavior. And this group, no matter how small, may ruin it for everyone.

While the sticker price of the cars aren’t exactly exorbitant, my friend Michael Banovsky over at Sympatico Autos raised the idea that high insurance premiums could conceivably kill the car’s appeal to a significant portion of its target market. Even though it’s a 2+2 coupe with a naturally aspirated engine, a few too many accident claims or speeding tickets could see premiums spike upwards to a level where even the most car-obsessed fanboy with a terminal lack of financial acumen might shy away from buying one. In Ontario, insurance for cars like the Honda S2000 or Subaru WRX can cost hundreds of dollars per month (I was once quoted over $500 per month for a WRX. I was 21, but without any tickets or claims) thanks to high theft rates and their adoption by local idiots who insist on racking up tickets for illegal car modifications, speeding, street racing and reckless driving. One of the reasons my Miata doesn’t have such high premiums is because owners tend to be closer to collecting their pensions than paying off student loans and they’re rarely crashed or stolen.

High insurance premiums are cited (along with gas prices) as a reason for the death of the muscle car. I really hope they don’t torpedo the BR-Z either. There’s really not much that can be done about it, save for people driving responsibly and not screwing it up for the rest of us. Unfortunately, wishing that the world was a certain way rather than accepting it on reality’s terms has consistently proven to be a losing strategy.

I called my insurer to get a quote on the BRZ/FR-S for this article. They didn’t even have it in their database yet.

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Dealers Begin Subaru BRZ Price Gouging Thu, 12 Apr 2012 15:22:02 +0000

Well, we knew it would happen. Some dealers are already starting to ask for markups on the Subaru BRZ. And some people are dumb enough to pay them.

According to an email received by Inside Line, a dealer is asking for a $5,000 “non-negotiable” markup on their BRZs. Apparently, their allocation is small (gee, wonder why!) and many of the cars have been pre-ordered. Hopefully, nobody is dumb enough to indulge this dealer. These cars are going to be readily available in a few months, once all the early adopters have flooded the forums with endless shots of stock BRZs and poorly photographed Monroney stickers. I wonder how Scion dealers will get around their “no haggle” pricing policy? Lots of dealer accessories and rust proofing, no doubt.

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At $25,495 Subaru BRZ Is $1,295 More Than Scion FR-S Thu, 05 Apr 2012 15:54:29 +0000

Today seems to be “Pricing Thursday”, the anticipated forerunner to Good Friday, and the one we’ve been waiting for has finally risen revealed pricing details. The Subaru BRZ, at $25,495, is only $1,295 more than the Scion FR-S and $100 less than the Subaru Impreza WRX.

The extra price premium over the FR-S gets you GPS Navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and HID headlamps. A Limited Package starts at $27,495 and adds Alcantara seating surfaces, heated mirrors and seats, dual-zone automatic climate control system, fog lights and a small spoiler. A 6-speed automatic adds $1,100 to both trim levels.

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A Dozen NAIAS Takeaways From Michael Karesh Mon, 16 Jan 2012 17:53:14 +0000 With all of the leaks, it’s not so easy to be surprised at NAIAS. But I managed to learn a thing or two by attending. My top dozen takeaways:

1. Compared to a Lamborghini, a Ferrari seems…normal. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve never even sat in these cars before. The view forward from the driver’s seat of any Lambo is shockingly awful. I have a much easier time visualizing myself behind the wheel of the Ferrari FF, where the windshield design actually appears to have had forward visibility as a priority. Similarly, when behind the wheel of the Rolls-Royce you’re clearly looking down upon the common folk, while the Bentley comes across as a normal car, just lavishly furnished. I guess it’s a matter of whether you’re buying a car to make a statement or to drive (or be driven in).

2. The Subaru BRZ has a surprisingly nice interior, with open sight lines, supportive seats, and quality materials. The interior in the FR-S is very similar, but I wasn’t able to sit in the Scion and, from what I’ve read, it won’t be available with the Subaru’s up-level faux suede trim. How did the joint venture sports car end up with a nicer interior than you’ll find elsewhere in either partner’s lineup?

3. Lexus doesn’t have a clue. If you have to give a prepared speech to explicitly inform the press that you’re “exciting and dynamic,” then you’re not.

4. Chevrolet tries harder, but also doesn’t have a clue. The brand introduced two concepts based on “really getting to know Gen Y well.” Gen Y said it wanted functionality. Chevrolet responded with a pair of coupes, suggesting that GM continues to project its own preferences onto its target markets. Beyond their inherent functional limitations, both concepts were roundly panned on aesthetic grounds, one for being nothing new, the other for insufficient coherence.

5. I’m not Gen Y, but Chevrolet might yet become my best friend. I actually liked one of the concepts, the CODE 130R. Not because it’s attractive, and not because it’s a coupe. With three kids, I have absolutely no use for a coupe. But because it suggests that GM might actually offer an affordably-priced compact rear-wheel-drive car. Add a second set of doors, and perhaps a hatch as well, and I’d be very interested.

6. In another 30 years, Chevrolet might reintroduce the Cavalier. Or even the Aveo. After all, Dodge is bringing back the Dart, which old folks remember as a POS. To their credit, Dodge has packed the car full of features not often found in a mainstream compact, including reconfigurable LCD instruments, four-way power lumbar adjustments, and black leather with red perforations.

7. Honda, or at least Acura, might have finally rediscovered the plot. The semi-premium branch introduced a couple of cars that were pleasant to look at, and perhaps even a lot of fun to drive. The company’s turnaround doesn’t appear to have come soon enough to save the redesigned RDX (and across the aisle the Accord concept was also well short on wow value), but the Civic-based (if ill-named) ILX looks good. Perhaps it will fill the spot vacated a decade ago by the Integra? The new NSX also looks fantastic.

8. Acura is applying for U.S. citizenship. The brand will now be based in the U.S. The new NSX will be engineered in California and assembled in Ohio. An exotic from Ohio?

9. Pros and cons of the new Fusion. Biggest downside surprise: the car doesn’t look as good as I expected. The bodysides lack the fluidity of the Jags and Astons the car emulates. Why rake the windshield and backlight so dramatically, then make the bodysides so lean and stiff? Biggest upside surprise: despite the sweeping roofline, the back seat is very roomy and the most comfortable I’ve experienced in a mainstream midsize sedan. A nearly perfect height off the floor, seatback angle, cushion size, and shape. Don’t think rear seats sell cars? Check out VW’s sales.

10. The Buick Encore has a surprising amount of interior room for a 168.5-inch-long vehicle (a foot shorter than an Acura RDX). Adults will find sufficient space and comfortable seats in both rows. What the driver won’t find: sufficient power. Unless the Encore is packed with as much aluminum and magnesium as the ATS, and consequently tips the scales south of 3,000 pounds, the Sonic’s 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four will provide little joy. The Encore’s exterior design isn’t the most appealing, with proportions that recall the Rendezvous and odd little black plastic trim pieces on the rear pillars.

11. Cadillac, on only its third try in thirty years, might have finally matched, even beaten, the Bavarians at their own game. Unlike most other recent GM cars, which have been a couple hundred pounds overweight, the new ATS will check in below the competition. The ATS’s driving position is very similar to that in the C-Class, providing an excellent view forward, and better than the new 3, where you’re buried behind a towering instrument cluster. The engineering team is clearly fanatical about the car, especially how it steers and handles. If it handles half as well as they claim, I’m gonna want one. Especially if the wagon they’re not denying is offered in the U.S. with a manual.

12. Lincoln’s sales are low…by choice. Or so marketing VP Jim Farley would like us to believe. Lincoln dealers’ relatively low sales will enable them to provide their customers with more personalized service, compared to the “big box” luxury car retailers from across the oceans.

Michael Karesh operates, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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NAIAS Tidbit: Subaru BRZ On The Ground, er, Platform Mon, 09 Jan 2012 20:47:28 +0000

Rotating alone on a turntable: the Subaru BRZ. Looks good, if you ask me. Unfortunately we couldn’t touch the dashboard for all of you dash-touchers out there… more shots after the jump.

IMG_5643 IMG_5644 IMG_5645 NOW DELIVERING TOFU. IMG_5647 IMG_5648 IMG_5649 IMG_5650 IMG_5651 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 35