I’m sure by now everyone and their momma has an opinion on the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S cars wether it be positive or negative. I generally tend to not give an opinion on any car until I actually drive one, but I have been looking for a new car replacement for quite some time now. Trying to find one of these cars in a manual transmission around Baltimore has been a task to say the least, luckily, JJ over at IAG Performance lent me the keys to their brand new BRZ for me to test drive.
Despite my love of cars, I actually don’t like any new cars you see today. Actually, let me rephrase that, I do like new cars, but not enough for me to go out and buy one. My first car was a 1981 Corolla hatchback, and while it was the best form of birth control, it got me acquainted with FR cars. After that car, I owned a 1984 Celica Coupe and now I own both a 1998 Nissan 240sx and a 1992 Miata. I like rear wheel drive cars, so when I started to look at a replacement for daily driving, I knew it’d have to be the same configuration. When the FR Hyundai Genesis Coupes came out, I was ecstatic that there was finally another FR coupe with a four cylinder motor that didn’t look like shit. The problem I found with that car was that it was huge. I mean, it’s a big car and it felt big too.
Hyundai recently bumped up the power levels of the new Genesis Coupes from 210hp to about 275hp for the 2.0L four bangers, which I thought was great, however with the redesigned front facias, I just couldn’t get over the looks, plus it was still huge. Enter the Toyota FT-86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Plymouth Laser. With the concept of lightweight, fun to drive, FR coupe now in Toyota’s vocabulary, I was really holding off on buying a new car until I got to see and drive one of these cars.
When I saw that JJ bought a BRZ for his shop, I messaged him right away about being able to give it a whirl because I had such a hard time finding one locally to test drive. It seems people love these cars and they don’t sit on the lot for more than just a couple of days. So off I went to IAG Performance.
Of course, it being for IAG, they had been deconstructing and reconstructing the car for research and development. I got a chance to watch them make some custom parts with their in-house CNC machine, but I can’t say what exactly what it was they were working on, sorry! When the car was up and running again, I threw my camera in the virtually non-existent back seat and headed to the nearest back country roads in Westminster, MD.
First thing I noticed when I hopped in was the driving position. The hoodline was low as was the seat, but not to the point where a short guy would need to look above the dash. This kept the road in complete view without causing my eyes to strain, and the pedal placement was on point for those heel-toe maneuvers.
The BRZ is rated at 200hp and while many enthusiasts think there is a lack of power, I found that the power was sufficient. Not mind blowing, but ample. The car revved easily and matching them while downshifting only took a few minutes to adjust to. I felt that the powerband was more or less linear and that with a little bump in power, say 60-75hp, the car would be even more fun to drive.
Taking it through some rather tight and twisty roads through the Maryland countryside, you could tell where the car excelled. The steering was super tight and the handling would make anyone feel a little bit more brave so long as you kept the traction control on. As far as swinging out the rear, that wasn’t a challenge at all as a simple feint motion was all that was needed to get that ass out.
For about $25k, the car is a steal. With Japan making it’s rounds with the car, I feel like this is THE car you’re gonna be seeing pop up everywhere, starting with SEMA and TAS. If you’re really looking for a fun FR coupe, I wouldn’t listen to all the kids on forums and Facebook that are bitching about what they see on paper, I would strongly urge anyone to actually drive the thing and decide then. As for me, I still want to drive the FR-S before I make a final decision, but for now, I’d like to see what the tuners do with this car first.