Now that all the confetti has landed from Toyota and Subaru’s launch of its new rear-wheel drive sports car, it looks like the car’s stats make it a compelling addition to the compact sports segment.
The car, first and foremost, will go by more names than an accomplished con-man: we’ve heard it will be called the Toyota GT 86, Toyota 86, Scion FR-S, and Subaru BRZ when it goes on sale. But names aside, it will stack up against some serious competition in the sub-$30,000 sports car market, from the likes of the Mazda MX-5, Volkswagen GTI, and Subaru’s own WRX sedan. And for ease, we’ll just refer to the car by its Subaru nomenclature: the BRZ.
The BRZ is an interesting addition to the market because of its compact size and normally aspirated four-cylinder engine. In that arena its main competition is the rear-wheel drive Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible and front-wheel drive coupes Scion tC and Kia Forte Koup SX. The BRZ slots in the middle of the three in size: it’s about 10 inches longer than the Miata, eight inches shorter than the tC, and 10 inches shorter than the Forte. The same is true of weight--the BRZ is 250 pounds heavier than an MX-5, 150 lighter than the Forte, and nearly 400 lighter than the tC--and in power-to-weight ratios: it carries one more pound per horsepower than the Miata, one fewer than the Forte, and 3.5 fewer than the tC. Keep in mind, of course, that both the tC and the Forte start under $20,000, something the BRZ likely won’t do.
Once you expand the BRZ’s competition to the crop of sub-$30,000 compact cars, the competition muddies a bit: with a predicted price of somewhere in the mid-20s, the BRZ will slot against turbocharged competitors like the Volkswagen GTI, Mazdaspeed 3, Mini Cooper S Coupe, and Hyundai Genesis Coupe, as well as V-6 competitors like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang.
It’s here that the BRZ has its work cut out for it: competitors bring as much as 125 more horsepower to the table (a base Chevrolet Camaro has 323 hp underhood), but the car’s diminutive size and low weight should prove to be an advantage. If you compare the BRZ to its equivalent from Hyundai, the Genesis Coupe, the Subaru’s super light curb weight (it weighs 2690 pounds, 604 fewer than the Genesis) means it has a much better power to weight ratio (13.65 lbs/hp versus 15.69 for the Hyundai) than the Korean coupe.
Obviously, the proof is in the pudding, by which we mean that the battle of the $25,000 sports cars will be more than just a numbers game. We’ll see that competition--no doubt a thrilling one--as soon as the BRZ makes its official American debut at January’s Detroit show.