The Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S Platform Introduction

Subaru BRZ & Scion FRS Platform Modification Introduction Cover Image

Article by Brian Hannon. Photography by Corey Davis & Stock Imagery.

As 2014 kicks into full swing, we’re excited to start a new series featuring some of the hottest platforms available on the market today. The series will be broader than a strict "build guide,” as we want to present an overview of the platform, our initial impression behind the wheel, its strengths and weaknesses, and present feedback from tuners who have already had their hands dirty with these vehicles. We hope it will inform both purchasing decisions as well as what direction to take your car in once the keys are in your hand.

Subaru BRZ Hillside Modification Introduction

With that said, let’s introduce our first platform, the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S /Toyota GT86 (since Scion doesn’t exist overseas, it flies under the Toyota banner). It’s a car, or group of cars, that really needs no introduction. Launched in 2012, the joint venture between Toyota and Subaru has taken the tuning world by storm. Teased since 2007 on the auto show circuit, the enthusiast world was practically foaming at the mouth for this lightweight, rear-wheel drive coupe that promised balance between power and handling wrapped in handsome packaging.

The main influence behind the FR-S/BRZ was the legendary Toyota AE86 Corolla from the mid-1980s. From the start, it had a recipe for success as a lightweight rear-wheel drive coupe with a highly tunable 1.6-liter, 16-valve engine and an optional limited-slip differential. It was also wildly popular in many racing series from Group A and Group N to rally racing.

Subaru BRZ Scion FRS Toyota GT86 FT86 Lineage

The AE86 found a resurgence in popularity with the rise of the drifting craze since the cars were now roughly 20 years old, cheap, and offered a great chassis for sliding. The resurgence of the platform also begged the question: why isn’t anyone making a car like this now? Sure, you have the Miata for light rear-wheel drive performance, but to many that car just doesn’t fit the bill of what they are looking for (read: it’s too cute).

Toyota Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada with Scion FRS

Someone at Toyota must have had this same question, as development of a new rear-wheel drive 2+2 coupe began in 2007 with the FT-HS concept that featured a hybrid V-6 power plant. In 2008, however, Toyota acquired a stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, aka Subaru, and asked the company known for all-wheel drive prowess if they would be interested in codeveloping a rear-wheel drive coupe. Subaru initially said "no,” as it wouldn’t fit in with their lineup (and didn’t think Toyota was still capable of building a fun rear-wheel drive car), but after a test-drive in a working development model, they changed their tune.

Scion FRS & Subaru BRZ Front Cutaway Drivetrain Powertrain Boxer Engine Transmission

The two groups then divvied up the work on the car with the Toyota side handling planning and design and Subaru tackling the development and manufacturing. Development was not a light task for Subaru either, as they had to ensure the collaboration was a fun-to-drive package in spite of lower output when looking at such competitors as the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. This certainly explains why we saw a lot more Subaru test mules on the Nurburgring. Out of this partnering structure, the Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ was finally born.

Drawing on the heritage of the AE86, the FR-S/BRZ is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive two-door coupe with seating for four. Curb weight tips the scales at a relatively (by today’s modern safety standards) light 2,758 pounds, and it rides on a relatively short 101.2-inch wheelbase.

Subaru BRZ Scion FRS Boxer Engine Compartment

While power still comes from a four-cylinder, gone is the inline-four replaced by a boxer engine developed by Subaru. The naturally-aspirated two-liter four banger (direct- and port-injected FA20)produces 200 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at 6,600 rpm. It’s not exactly earth-shattering power, but it still scoots the FR-S/BRZ from zero to 60 mph in around six seconds and helps it cover the quarter-mile in the upper 14s. The key advantage of the boxer-style engine is that it lowers the car’s center of gravity resulting in improved handling.

Subaru BRZ Scion FRS Boxer Engine D-4S

Power is fed to the rear wheels through either a slick six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission derived from the Lexus IS-F. Though the automatic still transmits power through a torque converter, it’s been altered to provide response similar to a dual-clutch transmission.

For those looking to buy a brand-new FR-S or BRZ, it’s a fairly straightforward proposition, as trim levels and options are limited. For the FR-S, which starts at $25,550, there is only the standard trim available, but you have the opportunity to add features, such as navigation, fog lights, and a rear spoiler. Some other attractive options are a TRD performance exhaust and air intake. At least you know with those you won’t void the warranty.

New for 2014 is a special edition "Sc10n” FR-S that celebrates Scion’s tenth anniversary. Though it commands a $2,630 premium, it comes with a slew of cool features. You get HID headlights, illuminated exterior badges, an exclusive "Silver Ignition” exterior color, and an individually numbered interior badge that glows after being exposed to light. Pretty trick.

Subaru BRZ Scion FRS Headlight

The BRZ differentiates itself with a subtly restyled front end featuring unique headlights, hexagonal bumper design, and LED parking lights in the headlights. It also has two different trim levels available: Premium and Limited. Premium, which starts at $25,595, is similarly equipped to the FR-S, with cloth seating, but also features a standard 6.1-inch touch screen navigation system, something the base FR-S lacks. Move up to the Limited model and the extra $2,000 gets you a handsome leather and Alcantara interior, fog lights, automatic climate control, and the option of the 6-speed automatic transmission.

Subaru BRZ tS STi Version

As is typical with Japanese manufacturers, they keep the cool models to themselves. Take, for example, the BRZ tS, which features an STI-tuned suspension, larger 18" BBS wheels, STI body kit, Brembo brakes, and a host of interior upgrades. These models always spark talk of what could be coming down the line, such as a full-on STI or TRD variant featuring some sort of forced induction and upgraded handling and braking. Though there are a few photos floating around of test mules on the Nurburgring, nothing has come to fruition or been confirmed by Toyota or Subaru. We’d recommend not holding your collective breath.

Subaru BRZ Fender Lines

With that in mind, you can’t lose sight of the fact that one of the best platforms to drop on consumers in a long time is currently available at a dealership near you. With its fixed roof and muscular lines, ownership has less stigma attached to it than, say, a Miata, and it’s lighter on its feet than a Hyundai Genesis Coupe or Ford Mustang, as both of those cars are relative heavyweights in comparison. The chassis can also handle a lot more power, and plenty of tuners are already providing forced induction solutions to push the limits of the platform. The tuning potential is almost limitless! The need that existed for a proper light, fun, and rear-wheel drive sports coupe for a reasonable price has been filled.

Subaru BRZ Project Fitmint Teaser

Stay tuned as this series progresses and we uncover the potential of the FR-S/BRZ both inside and out as we work with key members of the aftermarket industry. Speaking of that, we got our hands on a brand-new Subaru BRZ that we plan to have some fun with. And by fun we mean widebody conversion, built motor with a healthy dose of forced induction, air suspension, and a killer audio system. You can only imagine how excited we are for this build!

2014 Subaru BRZ & Scion FR-S at a Glance

2014 Scion FR-S Image

2014 Scion FR-S

•200 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder boxer with direct and sequential port injection
•6-speed manual or automatic transmission
•Cloth sport seats and leather-trimmed steering wheel
•Bluetooth connectivity
•Pioneer 8-speaker audio system

2014 Sc10n FR-S 10th Anniversary Edition Image

2014 Sc10n FR-S 10th Anniversary Edition

•Limited run of 2,500 with individually numbered interior badge
•Unique Silver Ignition paint
•Illuminating exterior badges
•HID headlights with LED daytime running lamps
•Electroluminescent dash panel
•Solar-recharging illuminating shift knob (automatic only)

2014 Scion Monogram SEries FR-S Image

Scion Monogram Series FR-S

•Leather seats with Alcantara inserts
•BeSpoke Premium Audio with navigation and connected services
•Smart Key with push button start
•HID headlamps with LED daytime running lights
•Dual-zone automatic climate control system
•Heated front seats
•Heated outside mirrors
•Frameless rearview mirror
•Color-keyed rear spoiler
•Rear-seat center armrest
•Carpet cargo mat

2014 Subaru BRZ Premium Limited Image

2014 Subaru BRZ Premium

•200 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder boxer with direct and sequential port injection
•6-speed manual transmission
•Cloth sport seats and leather-trimmed steering wheel
•HID headlights
•Bluetooth connectivity
•Voice-activated GPS navigation system with 6.1-inch touch screen

2014 Subaru BRZ Limited

•200 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder boxer with direct and sequential port injection
•6-speed manual or automatic transmission
•Leather/Alcantara-trimmed heated sport seats
•HID headlights
•Fog lights
•Trunk spoiler
•Bluetooth connectivity
•Voice-activated GPS navigation system with 6.1-inch touch screen

The Subaru BRZ / Scion FR-S Platform Series Partners

Please take a moment to check out our partners, whom without, none of this would be possible:

The world's most enthusiast-friendly Subaru dealership.
Visit them on the web @
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SCR Performance
The Performance Expertise Behind the BRZ / FRS Platform Series.
Visit them on the web @
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SLVA Automotive Studio
Where Form meets Function.
Visit them on web @ https://
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Our Audio and Aesthetics Partner aka the Architects of Fidelity.
Visit them on the web @
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AR Design
The Fabrication Masterminds Behind our Forced Induction Systems
Visit them on the web @
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Our Sport-Compact Performance Parts Source. . . Never Compromising Quality or Customer Service.
Visit them on the web @
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Air Lift Performance
The Progressive Behind the Build
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Maintaining Integrity & Strength through CUSCU Performance
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Wilwood Engineering
The Stopping Power
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Advan Racing
Bringing Together Performance & Aesthetics
Visit them on the web @
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Brian Hannon (BHRP)

Grew up around cars and racing, a passion fueled by my whole family. Participated in numerous track days with cars and motorcycles as well as covered the NASA East Coast Honda Challenge for Grassroots Motorsports. Now that I'm in Colorado I'm enamored with the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb... borderline obsessive...
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Write a CommentCOMMENTS

really appreciate the thorough write up. very solid writing style and great shots. keep it up!


my scion 10th anniversary came with everything the monogram came with including fog lights. The only thing that my car doesn't have difference from the brz limited is the heated seats. Also it is a 2013 FRS..