I’ve never completely owned a rear wheel drive car.
I very briefly had an 87′ 325e that was pretty much dead on delivery. It never saw the road or my name on the title. Sadly I wish I could have done more with it. Money was tight at the time and it was going to be a pit of funds, time, blood, sweat, frustration, that I really could not afford in any of those aspects.
Sadly then, I’ve been all but sentenced to a life of under-steer, 80-20 weight bias, and good rain/snow traction. As an auto enthusiast, this is just plain embarrassing. I’m supposed to own at least one car that pushes instead of pulls, spins wildly into trees/ditches/other motorists, and (most importantly) do donuts. I’ve had some good opportunities to get a RWD car, but I waited. When I finally decided it was time to start looking, I had many thoughts on what it should be. Porsches instantly came to mind. My only affordable option was really the 944, but most were beat. They’re old and need a lot of upkeep. (lets be honest and read that as “unreliable”). A Miata could have been fun but they don’t really do it for me. They’re also slightly over priced. All but 5 Nissan 240s in existance are absolutely beat to hell. A bimmer would be good, but they have checkered pasts and one would never know what to expect. It goes on and on. If you think of any RWD car, I probably considered it.
I’d been paying slight attention during this time to the development of the Toyota GT-86/Subaru BRZ. It was only slight because they kept releasing concepts instead of an actual vehicle which was a tease. The development mules that circled various tracks and circuits seemed a little more promising. At the full reveal of the car including its specs, I loved the styling. Only things that didn’t impress me were the 200hp figure and tire size (seemed rather narrow). Everything else was looking right in line to make for a good sports car. This got my attention mostly because the price seemed right. I’ll be honest as well and say I’m a fan of Toyotas (excluding the current Corolla and RAV4). I kept on keeping up with the news on the car as it seemed mostly promising. When the press got a hold of the car there was some noise about how good it was and in a comparison test Motor Trend had, it came out on top as the BRZ with the Scion FR-S second. It beat out the GTI, Genesis Coupe, V6 Mustang (not to be laughed at anymore), and surprisingly the Miata! THAT made me WANT it.
Locating and buying one of these cars is not easy. I initially wanted the BRZ as it seemed nicer from what I had seen on the interweb. Subaru was only sending 6-7 thousand of them here though which meant “good luck.” Dealers told me that they had no idea when, or even if I could get one. On that, I gave up on the BRZ and looked into the FR-S of which many more were being sent here. When I went to the Toyota/Scion dealers it was a slightly similar story. I’d be waiting a little less time and actually get one. I placed an order at a dealer with a date for sometime in July.
Last week comes around and I was supposed to get a firm delivery date for my car. I called and found out that it was looking like August at the earliest. I scoffed at the idea of going though most of the summer without my awaited sports car. I called around and found myself being tossed about in a sea of uncertain salesmen. One dealer lied to me, another tried to sell me a tC (NO THANKS!). My mom actually found me one about 1.5 hours from home, in the color I wanted. Early the next morning I took a drive (through the
beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains) to the dealer and bought the car that the salesman was kind enough to hold for me.
After another beautiful drive back, I was beside myself. This car was every bit as good as I thought it would be.
The power that I thought was inadequate was actually pretty good. Not a lot, but more than enough to make it fun. Acceleration is good, slightly brisk. The handling is on point. The suspension is firm with good dampening over the uneven surfaces. Steering is VERY communicative, somewhat heavy. Turn in is great, you “point and shoot.” Body roll is very well controlled with surprisingly small stabilizers. You can make quick lane changes on the highway or corner with absolute confidence. The rear differential (limited slip) is eager to start a slide but is well controlled by the stability control and your inputs. The brakes are very good as well.
The interior is sporty, yet comfortable. I’m a slender build and the seats feel just about perfect for me. Bolstering is right where it needs to be with the right amount. The dash layout is very good. There are no steering wheel audio controls but the radio is literally right there next to it. The gauges read very easy thanks to a digital speedo in the tachometer. Dash illumination at night is a reddish-orange with white gauge readings. Love it. The steering wheel is the perfect diameter and thickness which inspires even more confidence. The gear shifter feels great and shifting is even better. Throws are a little short but not like anything aftermarket and the lever is the perfect height. The e-brake is right next to the shifter. The brushed aluminum pedals are spaced a little further apart from other cars I own but close enough to heel-toe. Rev-matching is easy. The accelerator pedal travel isn’t too stiff or soft, just right. The interior trim is sporty as well, the dash panel has a pattern on it that reminds some people of carbon fiber (not me). The dashboard itself is a soft surface, not hard plastic. The console and most of the door panels is abs plastic with the tops of the doors being pleather. Lastly, the backseat is laughable. because it is mostly useless. The seat itself is comfy but if you’re taller than me, your head will hit the rear window. Any potential rear passenger’s legs are subject to being crushed between the front and rear seat. Only good thing about it is the backrest folds (1 piece) completely flat giving you much more cargo volume over the smallish trunk.
Under the hood, everything short of the spark plugs appears easily serviceable. You can see the plastic wheel liners (evidence of weight-cutting). The engine sits low and right over the front axle. Not smack against the front bumper like an Audi or under the windshield like a 90’s Camaro. The hood is massive and when opened, gives you access to everything. There are stupid plastic covers that hide every single thing like a Lexus or Buick. When raised in the air, theres air shields covering much of the front underside of the car and the brake/fuel lines. everything looks fairly easily serviced here as well. The rear suspension was probably done mostly by Subaru since Toyota had fallen in love with fwd and torsion beams. It has several control arms. Front is McPherson struts. As mentioned earlier the stabilizer bars are surprisingly narrow (though they prove adequate).
So. I have to say. I love this car. Honestly doing anything too it could complicate it or throw something off. Make it unbalanced. I’m sure Subaru will consider tuning one and sell it under an STI badge. Scion/Toyota have said they have no intention of doing anything sportier with it. I can’t say I blame them. When something is this close to perfection, why mess with it.