Cheap Thrills: Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ Face Off Against the Ford Mustang, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Mazda Miata, and VW GTI
With the average transaction price of a new car in the U.S. at just under $31,000, it’s tough going for many an American auto shopper. And if you’re a prospective buyer of an “enthusiast” car, whose extra horses and performance parts tend to inflate bottom lines up to the top shelf, the outlook is even grimmer.
Or is it?
The launch of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins has poured a double shot of buzz into the bang-for-the-buck tumbler. For well under 30 large, these two 200-horse coupes offer the tried-and-true formula of front engine, rear drive, and low weight, but add to that a limited-slip, summer Michelins, and a Nuerburgring-tuned suspension. Any questions?
But rather than compare just the Scion and Subaru, we gathered today’s hottest two-doors — the refreshed 305-horse Ford Mustang V-6; the 274-horse Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T; the 2500-pound Mazda Miata, the benchmark for fun; and our front-drive champ, the twin-clutch VW GTI — to crown the best driver’s car, with stipulations that each start at around $25,000 and cash out below today’s average transaction. Thus, the subsequent six machines boast average base and as-tested tickets of $24,640 and $28,523, respectively. Better yet, their statistical means — 0-60 in 6.0 seconds, quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 95.8 mph, 60-0 in 116 feet, and lateral acceleration of 0.93 g — make this half-dozen comparable to a 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera 4. Whoa.
To set fast laps at the Streets of Willow Springs, we put hot-shoe Randy Pobst behind the wheel of each. And after the tires and brakes cooled, we evaluated the six on our demanding circuit in Malibu. When the dust settled, one two-door left us cleaning out our garage. – Ron Kiino
6th: Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec
Deja vu all over again
By: Scott Mortara
It was an odd experience. I was reading my notes and those of my fellow comparison-test participants on the all-new 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T when I realized something: Everything I was reading, I’d read before. So I sifted through the scribbles from our 2010 Car of the Year program, as I was the one who did the write-up for the then-all-new 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. And, wouldn’t you know it, the notes were almost identical — even though they were written by different people and separated by more than two years. Then and now, multiple editors experienced troubles with the Hyundai’s manual gearbox, specifically when trying to quickly downshift from third to second gear, while either aggressively motoring through a canyon or going full-tilt on the track. The shifter is vague and doesn’t provide solid resistance between gates, causing many of our drivers to hang a gear.
And just like two years ago, our opinions of the exterior and interior styling were identical: The cabin doesn’t match what the facade promises. “It’s a shame Hyundai can’t get anything better-looking and -feeling inside of its sharply styled Gen Coupe,” said associate editor Nate Martinez. As in the original, ride quality was deemed tops in test (along with the Mustang), providing a smooth highway feel while still being rewarding when turning left and right.
Peaky power delivery. it feels like there are severe induction restrictions as the boost builds. – Benson Kong
A big bright spot with the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T is the more powerful engine. When it debuted in 2010, the 2.0T was putting out a measly 210 hp and 233 lb-ft. Hyundai turned up the wick on the turbo engine, which now churns out 274horses and 275 lb-ft — a welcome and needed improvement. But again, just like two years ago, with the newfound good comes some newfound not-so-good.
While we appreciate the added power, we have issues with how it’s delivered. The 2.0-liter’s extra torque means you don’t have to downshift to pass, say, on the freeway, but there is annoying turbo lag below 2000 rpm. When you’re out of boost, the car labors, and when the turbo comes on, it goes like gangbusters, making it tough to be smooth. Also not helping was the comparatively numb, non-linear steering. At least you can still fully defeat stability and traction control, though when the nannies are on, they’re overly aggressive.
While the Hyundai finished in sixth place overall, Pobst placed it in fifth. “Way more controllable and sportier-feeling than the Mustang. Good high-speed car — not a lot of body roll. And the shocks do a great job on the bumps, so the car is stable. From a driver’s standpoint, the turbo gives it this surge of torque in the midrange. I said the other cars had good midrange? Nah. This car has the midrange when the boost comes up.”
Hyundai has built a better Gen Coupe, but many of our initial quibbles about the car are still there, though less noticeable now. The exterior styling and ride quality are more than up to snuff, but the interior ambiance, drivetrain, and steering still need some fine-tuning.
5th: Volkswagen GTI
The Practical (Fun) One
By: Nate Martinez
Meet the obvious oddball. Although its 2.0-liter turbo sends power to the wrong set of wheels (as assistant road test editor Carlos Lago quipped), and it’s a figurative brick in a group of rolling wedges, with enough seats for a family of five, the Volkswagen had to be included, mostly for two reasons. First, it met our pricing criteria, and second — and most important — it’s a blast to drive.
As it is, the GTI stands 8.8 inches taller than the MX-5 and stretches 16.4 inches shorter than the Mustang. Its dimensions make for an upright seating position in the adjustable buckets, which are covered in retro plaid. Some liked the seats; others, like our pro racer Pobst, wanted more cushion and lateral support. All-around visibility is excellent and only the Mazda with its top stowed offers fewer blind spots. The GTI’s simple black interior contains all the key must-haves, plus a very stylish, thick-rimmed flat-bottom steering wheel that associate online editor Benson Kong labeled “bulky.” The interior is attractive, no-nonsense, and, unique in this group, very practical. Four passengers can ride along, with a relatively gigantic 15.2 cubic feet of gear in the cargo bay to hold all their stuff.
The best grand touring car here. it would make many people happy for long distances and daily driving. – Carlos Lago
With 200 horses and a stout 207 lb-ft onboard, plus one of the smoothest dual-clutch gearboxes in the business, the GTI is the third quickest to 60 mph with a time of 6.1 seconds. The distinct BRAAP! BRAAP! that accompanies every ueber-quick DSG upshift is hugely addicting, especially when tracing squiggly paths.
As the sole front-driver of the group, the GTI lacked the handling finesse of the others. It disliked being pushed hard into corners and tended to plow, thanks to an unfavorable 62/38 front/rear weight distribution. It preferred a calmer, eased entry followed by an aggressive mash-the-gas exit.
Wrote Kiino: “It doesn’t like to be pushed like the others. You have to be less aggressive, at least on turn-in. That said, the GTI is a fun, great car for launching out of exits. You can really feel the FWD pulling you out of turns. On more open corners, it feels really planted and has nicely weighted steering. And I really love the DSG in Sport mode with its intuitive downshifts.”
On the Streets, the GTI drew praise as a great 8/10ths car. It performed best when not pressed to its physical limits. If thresholds were met or surpassed, an undefeatable traction control system intervened with an immediate brake intervention and cut to the throttle.
“The GTI is not a track car, stock,” Pobst noted. “It’s probably a great street car. I could feel the refinement and sense of quality in the car on my warm-up lap. Up to about 80 percent or so, this is a really sweet car to drive. But as I started to push it more and get a little more speed out of it, it understeered heavily.”
Track days notwithstanding, the Volkswagen remains an excellent, sporty ride on the street. Drivers who require that their car have more than a tinge of practicality need look no further than the GTI. But when performance is paramount, they’d be well advised to keep looking.
4th: Ford Mustang V-6
Cheeseburger in paradise
By: Ron Kiino
Naturally, the sole Yankee in the group (we tried to secure a 312-hp Camaro V-6, but Chevy claimed not to have one in fleet) came into this fight carrying the most pounds — 3511, to be exact — proving once again that America is a chubby nation. But old Red, White, and Blue can also be a fast and agile state, and despite its corpulence, the Mustang showed that it could accelerate, turn, and stop quicker than any car here. Take a gander at the spec sheet. With 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, quarter mile in 13.9 seconds at 100.1 (the only car to go under 14 and over 100), figure eight in 25.4 seconds, and 60-0 in 110 feet, the Mustang outperforms in every major objective test.
Practical and fun. if you can’t handle something small like the FR-S, this makes a great sport coupe. – Rory Jurnecka
How’d it do that? Power, and a lot of it. With the group’s only V-6, a 3.7-liter 24-valver, the Mustang puts out a lofty 305 hp and 280 lb-ft, or 138 more horses and twice the torque compared with the Miata. But equally vital to its objective dominance were the Mustang’s super-sticky Pirelli summer tires, part of the optional $1995 Performance Package that also adds a 3.31 rear axle and handsome 19-inch alloys. “Undoubtedly, this Mustang is a highly capable car — thank you, Pirelli,” said Lago. Pobst said after hot-lapping: “Big tire advantage. The tires have a ton of grip. They feel like the slicks I run in the Pirelli World Challenge [racing series] on my K-Pax Volvo.”
But while the tires and engine make a nice performance pair, the chassis doesn’t quite relay their magic, and that’s the biggest difference between the Mustang and the podium placers. Associate online editor Nate Martinez: “When spurring the Mustang, you end up waiting for your commands to be translated into actions. There’s just a ton of roll. And against the likes of BRZ, FR-S, and Miata, it feels less engaging and, ultimately, fat.”
Associate editor Rory Jurnecka points out what still makes the Mustang a satisfying ponycar. “It’s a different type of experience than the Subaru — not very precise or nimble — but it is fun to hammer and slide it around the course.”
The next-generation Mustang, due in a couple years, is rumored to be a lot lighter than this car. We hope that rumor becomes reality. We also hope Ford’s icon finally loses its solid rear axle, as an independent setup would make the Mustang a more rewarding tool when exploring those last few tenths. With this current iteration, we experienced too many rear-end hops, skips, and bounces on the track and through the canyons.
Pobst sums up the Mustang this way: “In terms of this group of cars, the Mustang is fast and numb.”
We love fast cars, but love them less when they’re numb.
3rd: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring
Religion of driving fun
By: Benson Kong
If you know anything about the Mazda MX-5 Miata, you probably enjoy driving. Well, you’d best relish these pages, because this is likely the NC-generation Miata’s comparison curtain call. From here on out, all eyes are on the back-to-basics, even more lightweight next-gen car due out next year.
A model of consistency, the MX-5 Miata has delivered unadulterated motoring pleasure for more than 20 years, even spawning its own dedicated racing series. From its inception, it became the dynamic benchmark for all small cars. If any kind of hot, new metal claimed to be fun to drive over the last two decades, the only question that really mattered was, “How does it stack up against the Miata?” Here’s why, as noted by my fellow evaluators. Kiino: “Feels like a toy — a really, really fun toy.” Mortara: “This is possibly the most directly connected car on the road.” Lago: “I want to shake hands with the people at Mazda who decide to keep making it, just to thank them.” Jurnecka: “The Miata is starting to feel a little bit dated, but it’s so much fun to drive that I couldn’t care less.” Martinez: “This is the one car that can live up to the kart comparison cliche.” And myself: “It doesn’t feel happy unless it’s turning.”
This is possibly the most directly connected car on the road. – Scott Mortara
The Miata didn’t earn its worshipers with eye-popping quantitative data, most of which place the Miata at the back of the pack. Still, with a 0-60-mph time of 6.3 seconds and a quarter-mile run of 14.9 seconds at 90.6 mph, the MX-5 holds its own in this comparison set, despite having the least-powerful engine.
Being the group’s featherweight at 2501 pounds helps. Every stream of information affiliated with going fast gushes to the driver. The Miata has always been a “feel” car. What is feel? It’s the way the quick steering reacts telepathically on- and off-center. The way the tidy body rotates about the short 91.7-inch wheelbase, feeling oh so manageable. The way the relatively small brakes confidently bring the car’s speed down, lap after lap. The way the car seemingly uses roll and pitch to help pull through a corner. There’s always a fine sense of control, even though it leans more than the others, save the Mustang.
Professional race ace Pobst’s satisfaction level continued to rise the harder he pushed the Miata, and he praised its balance, shifter, and nearly every dynamic facet.
In the real world, we were just as delighted with the overall package, though ergonomic concerns for taller drivers (unavoidable), wind noise (similarly inescapable), and an aged cockpit (the next gen should fix this) were among the dings we levied from a buyer’s perspective. This is a tough car to beat for sheer thrill.
2nd: Scion FR-S
To drift, or to drive…
By: Rory Jurnecka
There’s no question that the FR-S’ second-place finish is one of the more difficult decisions we’ve had to make in recent comparison tests.
You’re about to read about what an excellent sports car the Subaru BRZ is, and yes, the Scion is virtually identical in specification and capability. Plus, it’s cheaper. So why does it rank behind the Subaru? What gives?
First, let’s be clear that both of these cars are an absolute hoot to drive. Each rewards with excellent steering (the BRZ’s helm has just a touch more heft), solid and easily modulated brakes, and a strong engine that’s paired to one of the best-feeling shifters we’ve experienced. The casual A-to-B driver will notice little to no difference between the two cars.
Once you know who finished second, you know who won, so to facilitate a head-to-head comparison of two essentially identical cars, we posted their specs in the same panel
Dive deeper, though, and there are subtleties that come from a bit of independent tuning by their respective makers. Both on road and track, the FR-S was found to have slightly firmer damping and a little less body roll, traits that gave the Scion a looser rear end than its BRZ cousin’s. While the ease of getting the tail of the FR-S to rotate is entertaining in some circumstances, it can be a little disconcerting on a twisty backroad, and even more so on a racetrack.
Even our pro driver felt that part of his quicker lap time in the BRZ was due to the increased confidence the Subaru’s slightly more dialed-in suspension gave him. The nominally firmer damping of the FR-S also made it a bit less comfortable on the freeway.
Some of our preference for the BRZ also comes from aesthetics. While several staffers actually preferred the aggressive front end of the FR-S to that of the slightly “smiley” BRZ, nearly everyone found the Subaru’s “toggle switch” control styling on the center stack more appealing than the FR-S’ plain knobs, and most also favored the BRZ’s silver dash trim to the drab faux-carbon-esque panels in the Scion.
It’s also worth noting that, while the BRZ may cost slightly more than the FR-S (just over a grand, to be accurate), the Subaru includes standard navigation (not available in the FR-S, even optionally), Bluetooth, and satellite radio. For around $28,000, our test BRZ included even more convenience goodies more commonly found on premium cars, not bargain-rate sportsters. That adds up to a small value advantage in our book, and arguably makes the BRZ a better option for the
That said, if cushy extras don’t appeal and you want a no-frills, out-of-the-box drift doozie (or your budget mandates that pennies be pinched), the FR-S is for you.
1st: Subaru BRZ Limited
Communication: the key to a lasting relationship
By: Carlos Lago
The Subaru BRZ is a special car. This much is obvious after just a few turns on a curvy road, where a delicate balance between the steering, throttle, shifter, and tires emerges. It offers a pervasive sense of control, allowing you to place the tires within millimeters of your intended target. The engineers’ focus on a low center of gravity is evident: Every movement the BRZ makes seems to start below ground level.
The BRZ is neutral at its limit, transitioning slowly between gentle push and slide, meaning the driver can choose between stability or drift on a whim. Each component feels like it’s working in harmony, especially the deceptively modest 200 hp and narrow summer tires. The magic here is that you can’t be lazy and rely on power alone to exit a corner at a respectable velocity. The BRZ demands that you work the chassis to maintain momentum. In this sense, the BRZ is an excellent teacher of rear-drive dynamics. But at the same time, it’s a car that never feels like it’s stuck with a learner’s permit. Drivers from all skill levels can enjoy the BRZ, as is evident by Pobst’s stamp of approval: “An extremely enjoyable and satisfying driver’s car.”
Heavier steering than miata, and it communicates road feel like a cayman. – Nate Martinez
The BRZ’s appeal to enthusiasts is admirably broad, and what makes it even better is that nowhere in the car will you find a significant fault. Try as we might, the worst thing we could complain about were the wheels, which look a touch too busy and identical to the FR-S’.
“It only has 200 horsepower!” you may be screaming. Yes, but it uses that power respectably, reaching 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. “That’s slower than the FR-S!” Yes, but this might’ve been due to the low number on the odometer. “The Mustang’s a second faster to the quarter mile! USA!” Yes, but that gap falls to 0.4 second on the figure eight. The secret? The Mustang spends more time in transitions, giving the BRZ precious catch-up time.
For as un-Subaru as a naturally aspirated, rear-drive coupe may sound, the BRZ stays true to the brand’s peculiarities. The drivetrain makes the same noises; the steering wheel looks and feels at home — this is no rebadged Toyota. In fact, its interior is sweeter. The BRZ boasts standard navigation, and our Limited trim tester adds keyless entry, Alcantara seat inserts, dual-zone climate control with neat toggle switches, foglights, and a spoiler that enhances the rear bodylines. It offers Miata levels of driving enjoyment, with the practicality and livability of a car with a roof, four seats, and a trunk.
The BRZ then is functional, easy on the pocket, and the most rewarding and entertaining sub-$30,000 car from Japan. Make that from anywhere.
Why the BRZ Beat Its Twin
The Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are built in the same factory in Gunma, Japan, and are far more alike than different. They share every major component, but differ in bumper fascia, bits of exterior and interior trim, and, most critically, in suspension tuning. At the end of the day, the BRZ’s handling edge gave Subaru the win over the FR-S.
Pobst: “I like the Subaru better, primarily because it’s less loose on entry. In the Scion, you feel the back move almost before the front. In the Subaru, it’s more one piece. And I can be more aggressive entering turns with the Subaru. It’s a decreasing maneuver — I’m entering on the brakes and cornering — and because the Subaru isn’t as tail-happy, I can use more brakes entering the corner and carry more speed in. It’s the same thing coming off the corner. The Subaru doesn’t oversteer as easily, so I can get to the power sooner.”
Lago: “The BRZ seems a bit slower to transition from understeer to oversteer than the FR-S. It stays neutral longer, where the FR-S switches quickly back and forth. I was able to hold the BRZ right in that space between the two extremes longer, and I like that extra stability.”
Kiino: “The FR-S may be cheaper, but the BRZ is the better value. Love the standard nav, Bluetooth, and satellite radio, and I like that you can get leather/Alcantara, keyless access and start, auto climate, and heated seats (all for $28K!).”
Mortara: “Like other Subarus, the BRZ rolls, something that I actually like. This is what gives the BRZ an edge over the FR-S. The roll makes the car less edgy, less prone to kick the rear out, unless you really want it to.”
Jurnecka: “On the track and skidpad, the BRZ just feels a little more dialed-in than the FR-S. There’s a little more grip and a little more control — all very, very small stuff, but it’s noticeable.”
Pro Racer Randy Pobst ruminates on our $28K Performance Two-Doors
Straight from the Streets of Willow
By: Benson Kong
There are two irrefutable facts about professional race car driver Randy Pobst. First, he has an extremely gracious personality — an asset often absent from the ego-driven ecosystems of amateur and pro racing. Second, he can drive anything really fast with ease. No matter how many track days it took you to get up to your current pace around that road course no one else has heard of, Pobst would easily meet and beat your best time, and do it immediately after the sighting lap.
Don’t feel bad, though, because real race car drivers are a different breed. The good ones can hop into most any car and lay down blistering times. The best ones make their engineers look like geniuses, offering ledgers worth of critical feedback. And for our $28K High-Performance Two-Door Comparison, Pobst’s nuggets of insight on each contender were as valuable as the test equipment we strapped into each car. Below are his unvarnished observations on the 2013 Ford Mustang V-6, 2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec, 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata, 2013 Scion FR-S, 2013 Subaru BRZ, and 2012 Volkswagen GTI.
Pobst currently competes in the Pirelli World Challenge, where he is a quadruple champion. His campaign vehicle is a GT-spec Volvo S60 prepared by K-Pax Racing. To follow Pobst’s racing adventures, visit his website, www.RandyPobst.com, and K-Pax Racing, www.KPaxRacing.com.
2013 FORD MUSTANG V-6
In terms of this group of cars, fast and numb.
Big tire advantage. The tires have a ton of grip. They feel like the slicks I run in the Pirelli World Challenge [racing series] on my K-Pax Volvo.
The gearbox is nowhere near as quick or accurate as the Scion-baru, but if I slow down a little bit, it works fine. The throws aren’t bad. The shifter is mounted very low in the console. Personally, I like that. Although I prefer the Mustang GT’s ball-type, retro shifter. It just seems so right in the Mustang.
Surprisingly balanced and powerful, with a little too much shimmy shudder in the chassis and numbness at the helm.
Even though it’s a six, it’s not making really happy sounds, either. It’s not a terribly satisfying engine sound. It’s kind of lazy the way it picks up speed, though it might be partly due to the car’s weight.
There’s brake dive, but not as bad as I remember from a couple years ago. Although the braking is actually pretty good, but numb. I don’t have a real strong sense of feedback from the brake pedal.
There’s a lot of movement. The car has really limber joints. Part of that might even be structural rigidity. You can tell it’s live axle. It’s clearly softer riding, probably has a better comfort ride than the Scion-baru.
Turn-in is excellent. It turns in really well but it’s happening in the midst of all this body roll and dive. The movements make it a little harder to predict what’s going to happen when the weight finally transfers or if it hits any bumps. It turns in so well it can loosen up on entry.
2013 HYUNDAI GENESIS COUPE 2.0T R-SPEC
I continue to be so impressed with Hyundai’s products. I just love the way they look. I think they’re the number-one stylists right now, especially considering the price range.
From a driver’s standpoint, the turbo gives it this surge of torque in the midrange. I said the other cars had good midrange? Nah. This car has the midrange when the boost comes up. The boost is useful in third gear in some of the places where we’re between gears, which is common on this course. The boost does make it more challenging to drive though.
Not the driver’s car the Scion-baru are, but still awfully good. Way more controllable feel than the Mustang. Way sportier feel than the Mustang.
Good mid-range torque, but feels distant and rubberized, detracting from on-track gratification.
Shift action is good, but not on the level of the Scion-baru.
In this group, it felt really fast.
I like the seat.
No turbo noises whatsoever, and I think they’re missing the boat there. I think manufacturers — on a sports car like this — should have turbo noises on a turbo car. You know, like the whistles, the blow-off sounds. Those are really cool and I think that would be appealing in the marketplace. You don’t have an aural sense it is a turbo. But from your foot, yeah, you can tell.
Good behavior on the bumps. I think they’ve done a good job with the shocks. The bumps don’t upset the chassis much on power or when you’re balanced.
On my last lap, I found the limit. When I came around this kink and started to brake, I got a huge brake/trailing-throttle oversteer. The maneuver is really extreme. I was able to catch it – the steering is quick and it works — but then it was hard to get stopped.
The braking is not so good so I ran a little wide into turn 13.
2012 MAZDA MX-5 MIATA
See this smile on my face? I just got out of the MX-5.
Better than I remember. I drove a MX-5 in the Skip Barber challenge just a few days ago and it didn’t feel as smooth or strong. Way, way faster than the Miatas of old. A really connected driver’s car. This car is still the king. The Scion-baru is good, but the Miata is still a level above it in terms of the driver-car connection and feel.
The MX-5 is a car that loves to be driven flat-out. I didn’t want to stop driving the car. It’s that satisfying, and makes me want to drive it better.
80 MX-5 Miatas are on the pre-grid at Road America [for] the same reason this is the only car in which I did an extra lap simply ’cause I didn’t wanna stop.
It really takes the driver commands. If you tell it something that isn’t ideal, the car does that and you end up hurting your speed or having a less than smooth corner. Yet it’s still predictable in the way it scrubs speed off.
Its gearing was almost ideal for this track. I didn’t even use second gear — I left it in third gear. I was coming out of most of the turns around 5000 rpm, which is right around where the torque curve is starting to climb. It’s pretty healthy.
I drive it and I think, “Why don’t they make all their cars feel like this?”
On the right tires, I think the MX-5 might be the fastest car.
There’s no question the MX-5 is the best driver’s car here. In driving comparisons, it always does well but suffers a little bit because it doesn’t have the power. But when you compare it to cars with similar power levels, it’s the best car to drive.
A 300-horsepower MX-5 would be a fabulous car.
2013 SCION FR-S
The Miata has a rival.
The braking reminds me of the MX-5. I’ve always thought the MX-5 and the Miata before it had the best braking feel of any street car I’ve driven, just in terms of the pedal feel compared to the braking g’s, the way you can feel what’s happening. The pedal stayed nice and firm; I like a pedal without much travel — it’s a low-travel brake pedal. Braking is really controllable in that way.
It has shift lights in the tach, which I found really useful and enjoyable. It’s a great feature — it’s like a race car — for street drivers too, who don’t know any better. And guess what, I think it comes on at exactly the right time. It’s coming on at a little over 7000 rpm. When the light comes on, it’s time to shift. Going all the way to redline, I don’t think it helps. It’s happiest a little below there.
Stability controls have allowed setups like this — too loose on entry, a real drift car.
The shifter is fantastic; it’s just fabulous. Light, super accurate, with kind of a Teflon feel. You just feel every detent and never miss a lick.
I think the engine may have a lot of flywheel weight. When I did quick shifts, and when I let the clutch back up for the next gear, I got a real oomph. Almost like a speed shift. It wasn’t bad — it just wasn’t smooth. I don’t like not being smooth. I didn’t feel like I was hurting the synchro. They keep up real easily. You can do quick shifts with this gearbox. Had to do a lot of shifting, which I think is going to be normal for these cars.
I have the feeling this car would be very quick even with stability off because of its balanced behavior.
I was really impressed with the grip of what don’t appear to be all that aggressive tires. They’re brand-new, full tread. The car had a lot of grip and is extremely controllable. It’s a just a really fine instrument turning into a corner, and I absolutely love driving it.
2013 SUBARU BRZ
I like the Subaru better, primarily because it’s less loose on entry.
It has a more even balance, front to rear. It has more of an on-rails feeling than a rotating feeling. In the Scion, you feel the back move almost before the front. In the Subaru, it’s more one-piece.
The Subaru seems to have a little heavier steering; I think they have a little bit more effort. I actually like that. It gives me a little more feel in the steering.
Bravo, subaru (and scion), and thank you for these proprioceptor-pleasing injections of the driving drug. the brz is better balanced.
Both the cars (BRZ and FR-S) seem to use both tires coming off the corner, which is part of what makes the throttle so sensitive (in second gear anyway) to power oversteer, if you want it. But it’s in a controllable fashion — it’s a rare thing and hard to accomplish. And that just makes them so much fun to drive on the track.
Extremely enjoyable and satisfying driver’s car.
This engine feels happier to me. The engine sounded better and seemed to pull better at high rpm. It’s not as coarse. I was willing to go into the shift lights with the Subaru.
I love the brake pedal feel. It’s stable, extremely responsive, and the bite is instant.
2012 VOLKSWAGEN GTI
The harder I drove it, the worse I liked it.
The GTI is not a track car, stock. It’s probably a great street car. I can feel the refinement and sense of quality in the car on my warm-up lap. Up to about 80 percent or so, this is a really sweet car to drive. But as I started to push it more and get a little more speed out of it, it understeers heavily.
I was in Sport mode and never used the Manual mode. While it wasn’t quite perfect, it was good enough. I don’t think I could do better manually without some practice. In all the slower corners, it would downshift but always a smidge-smidge later than when I wanted the gear. The transmission actually works pretty happily on the track, which is kind of cool but also kind of sad because you lose that element.
Feels quick and refined up to 80 percent, but stumbles into fun-sapping terminal understeer at the limit, with inside wheelspin and even some hopping at the front.
Seats have absolutely the best first impression. From the moment I sat down, I thought “Wow, they feel great.” On track, the lower part didn’t have as much support as it looks like it would have. And the car is wide enough so I didn’t have anything to lean my knee against — the door panel is way over there. They’re 80 percent seats. The harder you drive, the less effective they are. They don’t have the support in the bolster. I love the plaid — it’s retro.
The engine is smooth and makes a nice sound, maybe the nicest. Very similar to the Miata, in fact. Very, very little turbo lag, almost invisible. The engine seems really refined and it makes a good noise. You can hear it. Revs way past redline — redline is like 6100 rpm and it was going to 6800 and pulling.
Likes a tight line. Because of the understeer, it wants a very late apex. In other words, get all the turning done early in the corner. When you go to power, you’re going to create understeer.
|Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec||Ford Mustang V-6||Mazda MX-5 Miata|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front engine, RWD||Front engine, RWD||Front engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged I-4, aluminum block/head||60-deg V-6, aluminum block/heads||I-4, aluminum block/head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||121.9 cu in/1998 cc||227.4 cu in/3726 cc||122.0 cu in/1999 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||274 hp @ 6000 rpm||305 hp @ 6500 rpm||167 hp @ 7000 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||275 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm||280 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm||140 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm|
|REDLINE||6500 rpm||6850 rpm||7200 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||12.4 lb/hp||11.5 lb/hp||15.0 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual||6-speed manual||6-speed manual|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; live axle, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||13.4-in vented disc; 13.0-in vented disc, ABS||12.4-in vented disc; 11.8-in vented disc, ABS||11.4-in vented disc; 11.0-in solid disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||8.0 x 19-in; 8.5 x 19-in, cast aluminum||8.5 x 19-in, cast aluminum||7.0 x 17-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES||225/40R19 89Y; 245/40R19
94Y Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
|WHEELBASE||111.0 in||107.1 in||91.7 in|
|TRACK, F/R||63.0/63.6 in||62.3/62.9 in||58.7/58.9 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.3 x 73.4 x 54.5 in||188.5 x 73.9 x 55.8 in||157.3 x 67.7 x 49.0 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||37.4 ft||33.4 ft||30.8 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3399 lb||3511 lb||2501 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||55/45%||54/46%||52/48%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||39.2/34.6 in||38.5/34.7 in||37.4/ – in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||44.1/30.3 in||42.4/29.8 in||43.1/ – in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||56.7/52.8 in||55.3/47.8 in||53.2/ – in|
|CARGO VOLUME||10.0 cu ft||13.4 cu ft||5.3 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||1.9 sec||1.9 sec||2.0 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||3.0||2.6||3.5|
|QUARTER MILE||14.2 sec @ 98.4 mph||13.9 sec @ 100.1 mph||14.9 sec @ 90.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||111 ft||110 ft||116 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.97 g (avg)||0.95 g (avg)||0.92 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.5 sec @ 0.69 g (avg)||25.4 sec @ 0.70 g (avg)||26.1 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)|
|1.8-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||89.12 sec||89.09 sec||91.88 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||2350 rpm||1750 rpm||2750 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$27,480||$30,830||$29,935|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain||Dual front, front side/head||Dual front, front side|
|BASIC WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 mi||3 yrs/36,000 mi||3 yrs/36,000 mi|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||10 yrs/100,000 mi||5 yrs/60,000 mi||5 yrs/60,000 mi|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/unlimited||5 yrs/60,000 mi||3 yrs/36,000 mi|
|FUEL CAPACITY||17.2 gal||16.0 gal||12.7 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY ECON||21/30 mpg||19/29 mpg||21/28 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||160/112 kW-hrs/100 mi||177/116 kW-hrs/100 mi||160/120 kW-hrs/100 mi|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.80 lb/mi||0.86 lb/mi||0.82 lb/mi|
|MT FUEL ECONOMY||16.6 mpg||18.3 mpg||24.8 mpg|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||Unleaded regular||Unleaded premium|
|Scion FR-S||Subaru BRZ Limited||Volkswagen GTI|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front engine, RWD||Front engine, RWD||Front engine, FWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Flat-4, aluminum block/heads||Flat-4, aluminum block/heads||Turbocharged I-4, iron block/aluminum head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||121.9 cu in/1998 cc||121.9 cu in/1998 cc||121.1 cu in/1984 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||200 hp @ 7000 rpm||200 hp @ 7000 rpm||200 hp @ 5100 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm||151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm||207 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm|
|REDLINE||7450 rpm||7450 rpm||6000 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||13.7 lb/hp||13.7 lb/hp||15.5 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual||6-speed manual||6-speed twin-cl auto|
|AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO||4.10:1/3.14:1||4.10:1/3.14:1||4.06:1 (1-4) 3.14:1 (5-6, R)/ 2.89:1|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||11.6-in vented disc; 11.6-in vented disc, ABS||11.6-in vented disc; 11.6-in vented disc, ABS||12.3-in vented disc; 10.7-in solid disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||7.0 x 17 in, cast aluminum||7.0 x 17 in, cast aluminum||7.5 x 18 in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES||215/45R17 87W<br/Michelin Primacy HP||215/45R17 87W
Michelin Primacy HP
|225/40R18 92H M+S
Dunlop SP Sport 01 A/S
|WHEELBASE||101.2 in||101.2 in||101.5 in|
|TRACK, F/R||59.8/60.6 in||59.8/60.6 in||60.4/59.7 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||166.7 x 69.9 x 51.2 in||166.7 x 69.9 x 51.2 in||165.9 x 70.0 x 57.8 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||35.4 ft||35.4 ft||35.8 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||2737 lb||2737 lb||3107 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||55/45%||55/45%||62/38%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||37.1/35.0 in||37.1/35.0 in||39.3/38.5 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.9/29.9 in||41.9/29.9 in||41.2/35.5 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||53.1/45.3 in||53.1/45.3 in||54.7/53.6 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||6.9 cu ft||6.9 cu ft||15.2 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||2.2 sec||2.3 sec||2.5 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||3.3||3.3||3.0|
|QUARTER MILE||14.8 sec @ 94.3 mph||14.9 sec @ 94.4||14.7 sec @ 95.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||118 ft||115 ft||124 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.93 g (avg)||0.94 g (avg)||0.87 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.9 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)||25.8 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)||26.3 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)|
|1.8-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||91.15 sec||90.32 sec||91.47 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||2650 rpm||2650 rpm||2400 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$24,930||$28,245||$29,715|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 mi||3 yrs/36,000 mi||3 yrs/36,000 mi|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 mi||5 yrs/60,000 mi||5 yrs/60,000 mi|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||3 yrs/36,000 mi||3 yrs/36,000 mi||3 yrs/36,000 mi|
|FUEL CAPACITY||13.2 gal||13.2 gal||14.5 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY ECON||22/30 mpg||22/30 mpg||24/33 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||153/112 kW-hrs/100 mi||153/112 kW-hrs/100 mi||140/102 kW-hrs/100 mi|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.78 lb/mi||0.78 lb/mi||0.71 lb/mi|
|MT FUEL ECONOMY||24.3 mpg||26.6 mpg||20.2 mpg|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium|