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Subaru BRZ vs. Scion FR-S: Which is the Better Car?



The concept of doppelgangers is that two people who aren’t related at all can look exactly the same. Among celebrities, it happens all the time. You’ve got Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel, Will Arnett and Patrick Wilson, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg, and Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain.

In the automotive industry, it’s the pairing of the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S. They drive almost exactly alike, and the styling and features are virtually the same as well.

Part of the reason for that is because they’re not quite as unrelated as you may think. They share a few crucial genetic markers, hence the similarities. Subaru built the BRZ with the help of Toyota, and Toyota is also Scion’s parent company.

The Look

S FR-SPut them side by side, and they seem like the same car. Both versions come in white, black, gray, red, and blue. Of course, each car comes with its own unique hue, so the similarity isn’t quite exact.

But it’s close enough in the essentials. Both are low-slung cars, their roof lines are curved, and the fenders are slightly flared. The bumpers are a bit different, and you’ve got distinct shapes for the grille opening. And of course, the badges are different too. But that’s about it. What we have here are virtual twins which convey a sense of friendliness and sporty performance.

The Performance

What kind of difference can you expect when both have basically the same engine? Both cars are equipped with 2L boxer (horizontally-opposed) 4-cylinder engine. Both engines come with combo port and direct injection. Both come with 200 horses at 7000 rpm, with 151-pound feet of torque at 6600 rpm.

The two has a 6-speed manual transmission as standard, and they both offer an optional 6-speed paddle-shift transmission. The manual transmission models of both cars get 22 miles in the city and 30 miles on the highway per gallon of gas, while the automatic transmissions both get 25/34 mpg. That’s because both cars weigh virtually the same, with the manuals going for 2,758 pounds and the automatics weighing in at 2,806 pounds.

Driving each car offers the same experience. You’ve got balanced handling and nice power. Only the truly sensitive will notice that the Scion is nicely tuned in the handling because of the revised rear spring and bushing, and that the Subaru tends to understeer when pushed to the limit. Most people aren’t all that sensitive to this difference, however.

In essence, either way you get a comfy ride with a rather agile car and the quiet in both cabins is very nice.

Interior Comfort

Once inside, the similarities continue. Both offer rather comfy interiors despite the less than $30K price tag and the sporty performance. The two offer similarly simple aesthetics without any frills, and with soft-touch plastics and pleasant trim pieces in a matte finish. The interior space is about the same, with the rear seats not exactly fun for full-sized adults for coast-to-coast trips. For short hops, though, the rear seat drivers won’t really have any complaints.

For the features, the BRZ reveals why it’s more expensive, because the standard equipment includes a premium stereo, Bluetooth hands-free/audio support, and voice-activated navigation. When you furnish the FR-S with the same equipment, the cheaper Scion reaches the same price level as the BRZ.

So in other words, if you’re going for cheap and no frills, the Scion may be your only choice. But if you get the options, the BRZ and the FR-S is going to look the same again.

The Main Difference

So which will you choose? They’re both available at practically the same price, when you upgrade the cheaper Scion FR-S to get the amenities in the Subaru BRZ. Also, the FR-S is only available in a single trim, with all the options available for you as you choose. The BRZ offers two different trims, with the Premium stand trim and the Limited with more features.

The main difference here, practically speaking, is the brand. Scion has come to mean “hip” these days, as its marketing has been primarily targeting the youth market. You even get the outdated Scion emblem that’s meant to be cool.

Meanwhile, the Subaru brand and emblem is much more suitable for older types. The brand offers a mature feel, even if it does offer the WRX and the STI. With Subaru, it somehow feels okay to drive an affordable sporty car, even if you are old enough to have a kid who will feel right at home with the Scion FR-S.

So if you’re going for an affordable rear-drive sports coupe without all the frills, the choice is going to be between the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S. The main factor that will probably affect your final choice is how you perceive the brand names.

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