It's one of the cardinal rules of business: if supplies are low and demand is high, the price of a given commodity will go up. While Scion has warded off any markups on their popular FR-S model, it would appear that sales of the Subaru BRZ are brisk, despite average transaction prices somewhat above MSRP.
TrueCar.com released its study of prices for the 2013 Subaru and Scion rear-wheel-drive sports coupes, and found that buyers are paying an average of $25,653 for the Scion FR-S and $29,085 for the Subaru BRZ. While TrueCar--and many subsequent reports about the study--claimed that Subaru increased its incentive spend on the BRZ to $400 in June, Subaru spokespeople refuted the claim, saying that the $400 is an arbitrary value that represents its present 2.9-percent financing deal. Scion's incentive spending is still listed as $0 on the 2013 Scion FR-S, although college graduates may be eligible for up to $1000 cash back.
If anything, it would appear that Subaru dealers are taking advantage of the BRZ's scarcity by marginally pushing prices above MSRP. Subaru spokespeople claim that most BRZs sold last month were in base Premium trim, but TrueCar's average transaction price was $29,095, a couple thousand more than the Premium's base price of $26,265. You can attribute some of that to higher trim levels and automatic transmissions--the Subaru BRZ Limited starts at $28,260, and an automatic transmission is an $1100 option on either trim--but many dealers advertising BRZs online are fetching between $27,000 and $32,000 for a base model manual car, which would indicate that some are placing some markup on the BRZ.
The most egregious example of markup we could find was a 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium with a six-speed manual advertised for $31,888 at Bel Air Subaru in Bel Air, Maryland. The dealer explained in a phone call that some of that price was down to dealer markup, but reiterated that the car came with free oil changes for life. By our calculations, however, you'd have to get 141 oil changes to recoup that markup cost (at $40 a pop, every 5,000 miles), driving 705,000 miles in the process.
Scion prices, meanwhile, don't seem to be affected by dealer markup, which falls right in line with the company's PurePrice promise, which all but eliminates dealers or buyers haggling prices down or marking prices up. Last month, the Scion FR-S $25,653 average price is exactly between the FR-S manual's starting price of $24,930 and the auto's $26,030 (including destination), which makes sense: Scion claims that 56 percent of its Scion FR-S models sold in June were manuals.
At last check, Subaru has sold 1089 BRZs and Scion has sold 2770 FR-Ss so far this year.
Sources: TrueCar.com, Toyota, Subaru, Cars.com