If you want a fast and affordable RWD vehicle, and you could do without flexing mainstream American muscle, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are two great options. Toyota and Subaru worked together to create these vehicles, meaning they are nearly identical. Scion has released the 2016 FR-S, while we are still waiting for the release of the 2016 BRZ. Today, Carsforsale.com is analyzing design, specs, performance, safety, features, and differences of the Subaru BRZ vs Scion FR-S to help you decide which RWD sports car best fits your desires.
Subaru BRZ Overview (base)
Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder
Fuel Economy: 25 City / 34 Hwy
MSRP: From $25,695
2015 Subaru BRZ Review
The 2015 Subaru BRZ steps away from the long lineup of Subaru crossovers and wagons. The BRZ is designed with the heart of a Subaru and the soul of a sports car. Aggressive features like low hood, low grille, flared fenders, HID headlights, and sporty sculpting reflect the purpose of this car, performance.
Inside, the 2015 Subaru BRZ is simplistic and practical. The buttons and gauges don’t feel luxurious, but they are functional and simple, as if designed to not distract the driver from the fun part of the BRZ, driving. Touch screen comes standard, as does a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Cabin noise can be loud when the engine is at high RPMs.
Cargo space, as with most sport coupes, is minimal. The 6.9 cu ft trunk can be expanded thanks to folding rear seats. Front seats will be comfortable for most adults, but tall drivers may not have adequate leg room. The back seats are very small, and won’t provide a comfortable experience for adult passengers.
This Subaru boasts an affordable, fun, and engaging experience behind the wheel. Every 2015 Subaru BRZ comes with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that generates 151 lb ft of torque and 200 hp. Although it isn’t the most powerful car available, the BRZ excels in agility and handling. Drivers choose between an automatic transmission with standard paddle shifters, or a precise manual gearbox.
Automatic transmission BRZ models achieve 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. The manual transmission is geared lower, therefore only achieves 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
Achieving 5 stars from the NHTSA and a “2015 Top Safety Pick” status from the IIHS, the BRZ holds true to the Subaru reputation for safety. Vehicle stability control, smart braking systems, and advanced protection systems come on every BRZ, and a security system is optional.
Every Subaru BRZ comes equipped with Bluetooth, USB, Aha infotainment, HD radio, navigation, 6.1 in touch screen, and voice command. Upgraded tech features include automatic climate control, keyless access, and push-button start.
Scion FR-S Overview (base)
Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder
Fuel Economy: 25 City / 34 Hwy
MSRP: From $25,305
2016 Scion FR-S Review
The outside of the 2016 Scion FR-S is designed like a modern sports car, with cues from classic Japanese sports car design. The low angled hood, sharp lines, flared fenders, and wide grille all contribute to the aggressive appearance of the FR-S. For 2016, there are 2 new color options: Ablaze Red and Oceanic Blue.
The cockpit of the Scion FR-S is straight forward and minimalistic. New in the 2016 model, Scion added some design flare with bright silver steering wheel bezel, shift bezel, door grips, and center console side ornament. A new, larger 7.0-inch touch screen comes standard.
Storage space is minimal, as with most coupes, but rear seats fold down to increase cargo load. With the seats up, the FR-S trunk has 6.9 cu ft of space. Front seats are comfortable, and will have enough leg room for most adults. Rear seats will feel cramped for most adults.
The 2016 Scion FR-S proves that you don’t need a bloated, overpowered muscle car to have fun behind the wheel. Powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that achieves 200 hp and 151 lb ft of torque, the FR-S is nimble, quick, and affordable. It isn’t the fastest sports car off the line, but it makes up for that with impressive athleticism and handling.
With an automatic transmission, this Scion achieves much better fuel economy; 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. The manual transmission achieves 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
The NHTSA gave the 2016 Scion FR-S a 5 star crash test rating. The 2016 FR-S hasn’t been tested by the IIHS, but it should remain an IIHS “Top Safety Pick” like it did for the 2015 model year. In 2016, a backup camera comes standard. Stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and smart stop technology come on every new 2016 FR-S.
The 2016 Scion FR-S is unique in that there are no trim options. Drivers choose transmission and color, while all other non-standard features are available for purchase a la carte. Every FR-S comes with 7-inch touch screen, voice control, infotainment, leather-wrapped steering wheel, USB, Bluetooth, rearview camera, remote keyless entry, and more. Some popular extra features include carpeted trunk, mud guards, fog lights, rear lip spoiler, and more.
Subaru BRZ vs Scion FR-S Winner:
Base model: Scion FR-S
Scion has a healthy set of equipment in their base FR-S, primarily because all other features are only available a la carte. For slightly less than the Subaru BRZ, you can receive a virtually identical vehicle with a few more features that is 1 model year newer.
Upgrades: Subaru BRZ
As the FR-S doesn’t offer trims, Subaru has the best option for those wanting an upgraded vehicle, rather than paying for every individual feature. For $2000 extra, you upgrade from BRZ Premium to BRZ Limited, adding features like heated seats, automatic climate control, leather upholstery and trim, keyless entry and start, etc.
Overall Winner: You decide.
Because these vehicles are fundamentally identical, it comes down to personal preference. The Subaru BRZ offers set trims, a Subaru badge, optional comfort features, and a slight bias toward understeer. The Scion FR-S has a standard backup camera, slightly lower price point, Scion badge, and a slight bias toward oversteer. We are eager to see what additions Subaru will introduce in the 2016 Subaru BRZ, and if those additions can push the BRZ ahead of the FR-S.