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2013 Subaru BRZ vs Toyota GT 86 comparison [video]

We know that the 2013 Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT 86 are awesome new rear-drive two-door coupes, but which car does CarBuyer UK pick in a head-to-head comparison?


The new 2013 Subaru and Toyota GT 86 (Scion FR-S in the U.S.) have been jointly developed by Subaru and Toyota and have received numerous global awards for their affordable fun design. But are the two cars identical? And which car would CarBuyer in the UK pick as the better car? Mat Watson takes both cars out for a thorough test run and tells us what he thinks about each one. He compares the two very similar cars and says it’s like comparing Coke Zero to Diet Coke.

Watson sees some negatives

As Watson checks out the sports cars, he gets in the back seat and notices the lack of space. It’s probably the biggest negative of the sports coupes. But are buyers of the BRZ/GT 86 really looking for a big back seat, or for the sports car appeal? The big appeal is the rear-wheel drive coupes are affordable, stylish looking and they feature a driver engaging experience. And Watson finds this out quickly as he gets behind the wheel. But which car should get the nod as the better car?

Is the lack of a turbo a problem?

He does notice the lack of turbo performance, but quickly sees the power range is developed at higher rpm’s and realizes the Subaru Boxer engine that develops 200 horsepower is enough. Watson says, “the BRZ really doesn’t need any more power and Subaru has got it just right.” He is impressed with the sound, the driver position, brakes, clutch and gearbox “are all perfect.” He has a big smile as he drives the BRZ and gets a feel for the car. He then compares the BRZ and GT 86 performance differences.

Suspension differences

The BRZ has a firmer suspension up front and makes a difference in driving performance. He says, it has a “slightly sharper and more weighty steering.” Watson says the Toyota GT 86 feels “looser and a little more playful and a bit more tail happy.” The firmer suspension of the BRZ can cause it to bounce more at lower speeds but Watson notices the trade-off is at higher speeds, where it feels more planted in the corners. He says, “if you want the sharper driving sports car, get the BRZ.” He continues, “If you want to go drifting and practice tail-slides, get the GT 86.”

BRZ has a better warranty

He points out the minor differences in the interior and exterior details, and sees there isn’t much to differentiate the two. The one big difference between the two is the Subaru warranty in the UK is much better than the Toyota GT 86. All Subaru vehicles sold after January 1, 2013, (excluding WRX STI) now come with a new, longer five year/100,000 mile warranty. Subaru has dropped their ETCo aftercare package that featured 7000 British Pounds worth of perks. Customers could get a free wash and vacuum every month, free dent and wheel repair, free lost key replacement and even free winter tire storage.

Watson must not know that the program is discontinued, because he gives the free car wash as another reason to buy the BRZ. Overall, Matt Watson says he would buy the 2013 Subaru BRZ over the Toyota GT 86 for its superior handling characteristics, better warranty and free car washes “which is the clincher.”

Watch the Subaru BRZ/GT 86 Coupoe review-CarBuyer video:


3Deuce27 (not verified)    March 6, 2013 - 12:24PM

Pretty much old news here.

Having driven both, several times, I have come to the same conclusions. The BRZ is tuned for sharper handling, and the FRS/GT-86 is tuned for the younger crowd, the wannabe drifters who think they can drift. Most will collect curbs and telephone poles and drive up the cost of insurance on these cars.

I did the Scion FRS 'First Drive' event at Portland International Raceway, on an auto course set-up. The FRS's were not stock, and were set-up with Enkei 'UL' style wheels, bigger tires, and tuned lowered suspension. Using this set-up they were composed and sharp in the quick turns. So buy what you want and if your want a composed sharp handling FRS, set it up for corners and enjoy.

As far as rear seat room, these cars are true GT's, not hot hatch's, but they will hold 4 race tire/wheels, a floor jack, and a small tool box, and corner scales for track days or auto cross work.

Regarding power... Plenty available for those who can handle it. For those who's only performance efforts are blasting down an on-ramp, buy something else, like a clunker 2013 Mustang.