The 2013 Subaru BRZ: or is it a Toyota?

One of the top cars on everyone’s to-buy list this year is the 2013 Subaru BRZ but on second looks, you’d swear it was a Toyota. In fact, it is, in a way. Back in 2009, Toyota and Subaru collaborated on producing a rear wheel drive, front engined Sports Coupe and Subaru’s version, the BRZ, is gaining some considerable “traction” in the market already.

The project began as an engine collaboration between the two Japanese manufacturers to produce a “boxer” engine, which is a flat 4cyl,which would power a rear wheel drive vehicle. The “boxer” power plant would help in the handling of the new Coupe as it is generally lighter than other 4cyl engines. Initially, Subaru wanted no part of the car production as their primary focus is the “all wheel drive” market, of course. Not surprisingly, Subaru took at look at the manner in which Toyota were building this machine, and decided that they wanted a piece of it too, once they saw the final product.

The car is marketed in North America as a Subaru BRZ and a Scion (Toyota’s off-brand name that it uses to target a younger demographic portion of it’s US market) FR-5. The design produces a much lighter vehicle which helps give the car superior handling abilities over its competitors the Hyundai Genesis, Mazda Miata and even the Ford Mustang. Rear wheel drive vehicles are notoriously difficult to design today with the more powerful smaller engines so frame and chassis construction are critical. The Subaru BRZ does it perfectly.

The BRZ is quickly making a huge footprint in the sub-model market of “fun cars” and is just as comfortable zipping around city streets as it is flying down country lanes. It’s fuel consumption isn’t spectacular with a 19/27 city/highway combination but it more than makes up for that on its sticker price when compared directly with the Ford and the Hyundai. Raw power has been an issue but has been dealt with in the latest version called the BRZ STi, which was unveiled at the Los Angeles Car Show last year. The Scion FR-5 has some subtle differences with the Subaru BRZ in that it is a touch cheaper, and is also offered in the unique Shoujyouhi Red color which was based upon the color of a Macaque snow monkey’s butt (I wonder who the poor intern was that got that project on their first day of work at the factory!). Apparently, the Toyota engineers felt it would be impressive to display their Concept Car in that color. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

The unfortunate part for US buyers is that Subaru only plan to build 6,000 cars in 2013 which is already making the BRZ a tough buy at most dealerships. Sticker price discounts are becoming a rarity. The demand is sure to outstrip supply very soon so I wouldn’t waste any time getting in line.

I guarantee the 2013 Subaru BRZ will be worth the wait.

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