Article by Ryan Randels. Photography by Corey Davis and Subaru/Toyota Stock Media.
When we sat down last week, we addressed our thoughts and opinions on the performance of the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S platform. You can digest those thoughts here if you need to catch up. We’ll wait.
Today, we focus on where we like to spend the majority of our time with any car--the interior. Our initial impression of the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S found many similarities in platform, performance and even styling, but the interior trim between the two cars does offer up some key differences.
Fundamentally, the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S are the same car. They offer a similar driving experience, both sporting a 2.0-liter, flat-four engine in the same chassis and platform. The two transmissions available are a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Their exterior styling is vastly similar; virtually indistinguishable to most consumers at a healthy distance.
That doesn’t mean there are no exterior differences between the two. The FR-S and BRZ have different frontend designs, sporting different bumpers and headlights. Out back, both offer optional spoilers, but those offerings are also different, further distinguishing the two from one another.
We don’t want to bore you by mentioning every little difference between the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, so check out the great video below from the guys at Driving Vancouver as they dissect the key differences between the two counterparts.
The video highlights many of the minute differences found between the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, which, for some, could be deal breakers.
Take for instance the suspension setup. The FR-S has a more aggressive setup that allows for copious amounts of oversteer, while enjoying recklessness and endangerment well within the speed limit. The BRZ is a more stable, more balanced driving car. This could prove pivotal in which car the consumer buys.
The video also highlights some interior differences as well. And these are what really separate the two cars from one another. While in the past the interior differences were more apparent, as you can see in the video, they’re dwindling as we head into 2014.
The FR-S is finally catching up to what the BRZ has already been offering.
For the 2014 BRZ, an infotainment system (known as Aha Interactive Personalized Radio) is now standard with the navigation system. This provides smartphone activity like live news, podcasts and social media updates--not exactly necessary features in a car that is so engaging to drive at the limit.
The FR-S now comes standard with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display that includes Bluetooth and iPod integration, finally updating it to the 21st century. These aren’t the only updates the FR-S is receiving for 2014. A limited run series called the Scion Monogram Series is available as well.
The Scion Monogram Series has an exclusive run of just 2,000 units. The Series adds much of what can already be found on a nicely optioned BRZ.
HID lamps with LED daytime running lights? Check.
Heated outside mirrors? Yup.
Push-button start? Finally.
Heated leather seats with Alcantara inserts? Old news to the Subie.
Other upgrades on the Monogram Series include a color-keyed rear spoiler, frameless rearview mirror, a trunk lining--now we’re just getting fancy--and a BeSpoke Premium Audio unit with navigation and other techno tomfoolery.
Rumors of a BRZ STi are still swirling over the Internet. A car spotted on the infamous Nürburgring was sporting an oversized rear wing, side sills, rear diffuser and front spoiler. While nothing has been officially released from Subaru regarding a production version of a BRZ STi, this test car has only fueled the rumors. Add that to allegedly leaked information of a 7,500 redline, which would effectively increase maximum horsepower, and no turbocharger due to space constraints, and a BRZ STi seems likely.
The updates to the 2014 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, even with the absence of a BRZ STi, got us longing to spend some serious time with the sports car. We decided to take the plunge and gobbled up a 2014 Subaru BRZ Limited.
Our 2014 Subaru BRZ Limited has seen over 1,500 miles on the road and track in just over the month we’ve had it. While our opinions about both vehicles are biased, which may seem strange given the insurmountable number of similarities (read: we are based in Subaru country, after all), the trim levels between the two are becoming more on par with one another and warrant a deep-dive of our first impressions.
Sliding into the driver’s seat of the Subaru BRZ Limited, you are met with an encompassing interior that is simplistic and functional in nature without taking away from the core driving experience.
As mentioned in previous articles, the gauge cluster is perfect for the intention of the platform. The tachometer staring you in the face is essential when heading to the track. Everything you need is presented in a concise clean fashion.
That clean-cut agenda of driving prowess is also seen on the leather wrapped, red stitched steering wheel and shift knob. The absence of any infotainment buttons on the steering wheel guarantees you won’t accidentally call grandma while drifting around forgotten shopping carts in the Walmart parking lot at three in the morning.
This should be a selling point unto itself, but we digress.
Limited models of the BRZ come with leather seats and Alcantara seat inserts. They comfortably squeeze you, holding you in place while you dash down curvy roads. The bucket-style seats, which add a level of luxury to the car, could cause a problem for people with any considerable girth. A nice additional feature is the heated seats, which seems slightly out of place on a sports car.
If you can squeeze into the seats, lumbar support for the driver adds hours of comfort. The lack of lumbar support for the passenger does cause some discomfort, but it truly shows the BRZ is a true driver’s car.
While the interior may seem sparse, that doesn’t mean there is any lack of great driving comforts. The sound system does what it is supposed do, and does it quite well for an original equipment system, which will be addressed in an upcoming article on the performance strengths and weaknesses of the aesthetics, trim and electronics.
Bluetooth integration is effective and immediate, but in-car phone call quality is poor due to road noise seeping into the interior. This isn’t a Lexus, remember?
Our experience with the navigation system so far has been simply subpar. Constant rerouting from the system was bothersome, but this is a car you can enjoy getting lost in.
A surprising feature we found on the BRZ was the automatic climate control. While it may seem like too much for a car that’s designed to be driven hard, it is a nice feature to have if this is the car you live with everyday. The climate control switchgears make it feel like you are truly doing something, and exude the feeling of "ALL SYSTEMS GO”--don the aviators because we’re entering the danger zone.
The biggest letdown in the interior is in the way the center console comes together. There is an elegance presented with the navigation system and switchgears, but sandwiched between the two is something that is more at home in a DeLorean than a BRZ. The digital clock, airbag sensor display and hazard button all look like they time-traveled right out of the 90s and were vomited onto the dash. This really doesn’t fit the interior aesthetics at all.
The exterior of the car is elegantly styled. The lines are beautiful and are reminiscent of a high-end, more expensive sports car. The one issue with the exterior we found is the large dead-cat space between the wheel and fender. This is, of course, something that can easily be fixed with a simple upsize in wheel choice or a drop in suspension.
Our 2014 Subaru BRZ Limited is an exquisite car with much potential. It looks and feels the part of a true sports car. This is how we first experienced the car when we got it. Impressions and opinions, dare we say, change, so don’t expect ours to remain set in stone. In the next article, we’ll specifically address the performance strengths and weaknesses of the platform, followed by the performance strengths and weaknesses of the aesthetics, trim and electronics. Be ready for a deep-dive in everything you want to know about the 2014 Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S platform.
The Subaru BRZ / Scion FR-S Platform Series Partners
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