Today is an important day for a very special breed of automotive enthusiasts, the kind of lost souls who wax poetic on the virtues of weight distribution and balance, and “pure driving pleasure.” For those people, today marks the end of a long seven-year wait for what promises to be one of the most exhilarating sports cars in over two decades: production for the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT 86 (known here as the Scion FR-S) has begun.
It’s fitting, too, that the plant where these already-iconic cars will be manufactured is in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, the home town of author Shuichi Shigeno’s fictional manga series, Initial D, the very cartoon that catapulted the 1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S (affectionately known as AE86) into cult status, eventually prompting the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S as its spiritual successor.
Yes, interest in a Japanese cartoon sparked the idea of a Subaru/Toyota sports car lovechild, and after years of rumors and ghostly sightings and constant internet babble by legions of fanboys, the wait is over. The sporty coupe(s) will feature a Subaru-designed rear-wheel drive platform and a 2.0-liter “boxer” 4-cylinder engine powering the rear wheels, all of it housed beneath a Toyota design. Subaru has promised 200 horsepower and 30 mpg rating on the highway, rear seats, and a $25,000 price tag.
Earlier this week, Subaru announced that only 6000 BRZ’s will be shipped to America, and it’s likely that that number soon will be spoken for (no production numbers have been announced for the Scion FR-S). This is great news for an overhyped but little-represented faction of the car industry. At a time when big engines and expensive, fast cars as tossed aside for small economical family sedans, the Subaru BRZ / Scion FR-S represents a not-too-niche alternative for the hardcore racer and the casual driver who wishes only to forego the dull in his daily ride.
“The start of production today made a huge step for us, but it is not our goal,” said Fuji Heavy Industry President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga. “By constantly refining both models, TMC and FHI hope to nourish each model to be loved by customers all over the world for a long time to come.”
We’re still waiting for our first ride, but on paper, with an accessible price point, room for four, distinct styling and performance with good mileage to boot, the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S represent a surefire formula for success, and one we hope to see copied and expanded throughout the industry.