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Old 06-12-2012, 10:22 PM   #1
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BRZ or FR-S....What's The Difference?


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Like always this is located on our blog, but this time I posted up the bigger pictures here.

We have been asked the question "What is the difference between the FR-S and BRZ?", quite a bit lately. Until now we were mainly guessing from pictures we saw. Since we have both cars as shop cars for R&D and marketing, I put together a post showing the visual differences in the BRZ and FR-S. We know there is some suspension differences in spring rates and dampening, but other than that, the actual suspension, engine, drivetrain, intake and exhaust are the same between the two cars. That even goes for the entire engine bay, as BRZ and FR-S share the same Subaru body panels, Subaru/Toyota plastic engine cover, Subaru branded engine, and so on. So I will not be going over those things.



With that out of the way, the first thing that sticks out is the price. This whole comparison is based around an FR-S and a BRZ Premium model. The FR-S window sticker shows$24,200 versus the BRZ at $25,495. The question for some is, "What does that $1300 more get me?". For some it doesn't matter as the styling of the FR-S is what wins them over. For others, its pirce, or name brand that drives them to the car. This comparison, isn't to make one car look better than the other, but rather to show the actual differences.

Working from the outside in, the most obvious difference is the bumper and headlight difference.



Some say the FR-S front end is more agressive, and some say the BRZ looks more refined. Personally I like the FR-S bumper a little more. Instead of the BRZ smile, it has more of a straight or serious "face".



In this picture you can see how the opening and the lower portion of the bumper is more agressive. The Scion has a better way of covering up the crash beam behind the bumper, were Subaru leaves it sticking out a bit.



The FR-S has a more aggressive looking fog light hole area. The Subaru is shown with the optional fog lights installed, where the Scion doesn't. Both cars do have a "daytime running light" in the upper portion of the fog light hole. The FR-S has a simple halogen bulb and reflector, where the BRZ has a super bright LED strip. This LED strip really makes the BRZ look mean driving down the road compared to the yellow-ish FR-S lights. I tried to take a picture of the two lit up, but the pics didn't show the difference very well.



The next big difference in the FR-S and BRZ are the headlights. The BRZ comes standard with HID dual projector beam lights. The FR-S again has halogen bulbs mounted in a projector type housing. The above pic shows the difference while turned on, but again, its hard to capture the real difference. There has been talk of FR-S guys buying the Subaru part and installing them. This isn't going to happen without lots of work. The headlight shapes are actually different, or are they............



In this picture you can see how much wider the FR-S headlight appears compared to the BRZ. The BRZ light is missing that "sharp" corner where the headlight meets the bumper, or is it..... In the picture below, you can see with the bumper removed that there is a plastic piece covering up this corner. Removing this small piece makes both the FR-S and BRZ headlight the exact same shape! This also means, customers can do some swapping out of headlights!



In this picture you can also see the BRZ and the really cool "Halo" ring around the headlight. The halo is only enabled as part of the parking light system and part of the main headlight system. I am sure over time, someone will modify this so the halo comes on when the day time running lights. That would really add to more aggressive look while coming at you on the street if you could have both the lower LED strip and halo on. Remember, the BRZ is more expensive and this is one of the reasons why.



These are the side scuddles shown side by side. The Scion has the cool "Boxer" Engine logo, but a tiny fake vent. It looks a little plain as you have a huge area of the same color. Subaru has a bit more fake venting which helps break up that plain surface. The example above has the optional Subaru chrome trim piece, but normal cars have a color matched strip here. Combined the two together and you would have a winner in my opinion.



The wheels are exactly the same, except the emblem of course.



The antenna bases are also different. The Scion without NAV, has the small base that is just a radio receiver. The BRZ with NAV has the base that contains both the satellite antenna and radio receiver in one. With some of the aftermarket covers being offered, I assume that not all of them are going to work between the two different styles. Both are dying for one of our antenna's!



The trunks are also different. The Scion being the less expensive car, doesn't include the trunk dress up piece. This is an item that Scion owners can buy and install on their cars to make it look a little nicer. The thing is, neither trunk has a real handle to close it from the inside. The trunk latch works ok to grab onto, but a real handle would be nice.



When you first open the door, you are greeted by the handles. The BRZ premium edition has the all black handle, where the FR-S has a nice silver trimmed handle. This is the same handle as found on the BRZ limited. I do like the looks of the FR-S part much better, as this is also carried through out the radio trim pieces.



Next up are the floor mats. The BRZ mats are just like other Subaru's with the embroidered emblem. The FR-S material is nicer and they have a really cool badge.



These next few pics are hard to see the actual material differences. On the FR-S, the seat material that you sit on is all a high quality felt like material. The sides of the seat are a vinyl as well as the backs. The BRZ seats (in the Premium) use the high quality felt material on the side, but have a much nicer, more durable feeling center material. For those who have sat in a newer WRX, you will find this material very familiar. Its a meshy cloth that has a slightly slicker feel to it. You can really notice this when entering the the BRZ compared to the FR-S as your pants don't want to grab onto the seat as you swing your legs around. It makes the BRZ seats feel like they will wear longer. Both seats are shaped perfectly for high speed cornering with awesome support. Even with the slicker material in the BRZ (not noticeable when driving hard) the BRZ seats are an upgrade in my opinion.





Here is a shot of the back seats. You can see that the shape of the back seats are the same, but the material once again is different. The FR-S has the felt, the BRZ has both felt and the meshy cloth.



The steering wheels are the same except the center of the FR-S has some additional fake stitching around the Air Bag area. This small detail gives the FR-S an edge over the BRZ because it helps brake up the plain-ish Subaru wheel.



A thing of great debate. I have seen some people love the FR-S dash, and some hate it. Same goes for the BRZ. Neither are perfect, but that fake carbon fiber paneling on the FR-S is not my favorite. The FR-S has a "space Invader" or UFO graphic that is used over and over again to create this. You can see that from far away it looks pretty good, but up close its not that great. I expect many people to cover these pieces or paint them after they get their car. They are about a 30 secs of labor intensive work (not really) so both BRZ and FR-S customers can mod them very easy!



This is the one item that makes the higher price of the BRZ worth it. The BRZ has a navigation system stock on all models. Normally this is a $2000 upgrade on a Subaru. besides the NAV part of the head unit, the audio adjustments, and touch screen part of it are what make this a really nice upgrade. Both cars share almost the identical sound system as far as quality goes. The sound in the BRZ and FR-S are very similar, with great base and overall clarity. Now I am judging this based on old Subaru's I have had. Compared to those, these cars blow them out of the water!

In this pictures above you can also see the vertical trim pieces next to the heater controls. The FR-S has that same nice silver color (from the door handles) on theses pieces. The BRZ, they are plain black. Only stepping up the BRZ limited to you get the silver trim.



The dash also is different between the two cars. The FR-S has the nice bright white Tach dial, where the BRZ is black. FR-S has more of that same UFO pattern printed onto the face of the gauges to create a carbon fiber look around the gauges, which is good for some and bad for others. On the gauges it doesn't bother me too much as it doesn't look like they were trying to make it look like real carbon fiber.





Both FR-S and BRZ gauges light up clearly at night. The BRZ lights with pure amber colors through out, where the FR-S lights up with a combination of white and amber. Also at key-on, the two cars gauges act slightly different. The BRZ's tach needle does the typical STI dance, where the tach goes from rest to 9000 RPM and back in a smooth sweeping pattern. The FR-S does something similar but only if you have the shift light set. If you have the shift light set at say 7000RPM, the needle goes right up to 7000RPM and holds, then drops back to 0 RPM. If you don't have the shift light set, it doesn't do anything when you first turn the key on.



The FR-S we received came with this extra part. Its an iPod holder and coin holder for your cup holder. The bottom is opened up to accept the plug from the iPod. This allows you to just snap it in and start listening to music. Pretty cool!

Conclusion

My personal opinion is that the FR-S front bumper is better than the BRZ, but the $1300 more for the BRZ is worth getting NAV, HID headlights, LED driving lights, nicer seats, and no fake CF dash. Even though that is my opinion, with the FR-S being much easier to find, and the fact they are marketing the car much better, I think the FR-S will be more popular. For those who have a little extra money to spend, and patience, the BRZ really comes out on top. FR-S fans, don't hate me!

Last edited by PERRIN_Jeff; 06-13-2012 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:25 PM   #2
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I thought the BRZ had the smart key stuff!?

But the pictures look great! Thanks for the caparison
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
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I thought the BRZ had the smart key stuff!?

But the pictures look great! Thanks for the caparison
The limited does. This one is a premium.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:49 PM   #4
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Good stuff. I think you can set the tach on FR-S to dance too with one of the tree buttons to the left of speedo. Or can't you?
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:53 PM   #5
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Great post, thank you very much for the comparison!
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:58 PM   #6
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What an stupendously fantastic thread. You are the person!
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:03 PM   #7
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When I switch the key to the on position on my fr-s the needle does go up than down. Is that what you are saying the fr-s doesn't do??
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:21 PM   #8
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one mention is that it isn't faux cf but the t symbol thats on the grill and floor mats that are on the panel and gauges of the FRS

I can see why the panel looks like cf but the gauges look more like some chainlink more than cf

thanks for this tho hopefully it gets rid of all the new threads about which to choose
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:41 PM   #9
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Are you sure the lights are shaped differently, or are the ones on the BRZ just tucked a bit behind the bumper? They sure look like they fit in this picture that's been going around:


Nothing close up though, so you can't see if there's a gap or if that black is the headlight surround.
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n2oinferno View Post
Are you sure the lights are shaped differently, or are the ones on the BRZ just tucked a bit behind the bumper? They sure look like they fit in this picture that's been going around:


Nothing close up though, so you can't see if there's a gap or if that black is the headlight surround.
Head lights look amazing

looks like it was a Subaru with a Toyota badge.

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Old 06-13-2012, 12:45 AM   #11
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First off, thanks a bunch for making this thread! VERY helpful!

I'm confused though, the ac-control units are the same?? Does the limited BRZ have the GT86's ac-control unit?

edit: after a bit of research, and deductive reasoning... The limited comes with the push start, which is included in the GT86 ac-control unit, and not the base BRZ. SO, the base BRZ doesn't have the GT86 ac-control unit.
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:48 AM   #12
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When I switch the key to the on position on my fr-s the needle does go up than down. Is that what you are saying the fr-s doesn't do??
The BRZ does a normal guage sweep (the needle will sweep to the redline or the endof the tach then back to the bottom in one continuous motion)

The FRS does its own sweep. It goes to where the shift light is (12 position? dunno if its adjustable) pauses a bit, then comes back down.
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:53 AM   #13
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I'd like to add that both BRZ and especially the FRS, has such complex body shapes and crease lines throughout, and that a lot of the time, photographs in 2D really can't capture the essence of the details and overall visual impact.

I was iffy about the FRS/86 shapes in photos before launch but attending the Scion PR event and seeing it in person, things were quire dramatically different. The diminutive size, the protrusions and curves, each crease all flow into another and overall perception of shapes just seemed much more stunning in person, and all the cues that really had my doubts, turned into approval when it flowed 3 dimensionally in the same light as I stood at each angle.

In my photos, I try to capture my car often with lenses longer than 50mm DX and 70mm FX, from at least 10 meters away so the distance and perspective distortions don't play a trick as much.
It's why most photos taken from standing near the car with wide perspective or cell phone cameras tend to make whatever is closer very big and bloated, and on a car like this, things can appear very different from real proportions.
For projects like this, where details are exposed, close up shots are great. But don't let the appearance in such photos make up the impact of the whole car in your mind.

The human eyes are a strange tool. And I guess the best of the automobile exterior designers all know that, and when things become as complex and nice as this body shape, things start to get easily distorted from photos taken with wider angles or if there is a difference in diffraction of light, linear perspective difference with wide angle lenses, and other factors.

Both cars are pretty...indeed. Subaru with a bit more conservative look, and FRS having a little more flair for fashion. And appropriate to the segment, brand, and customer base.


Captured from 90mm DX Lens, from about 25 meters away.




Captured from about 10 meters with 38mm DX lens zoom.


Captured from 3meters at 18mm DX wide zoom

Notice the lower picture makes the nose look much fatter as its proportionally much closer in compassion to the overall distance of the car and camera?
And also note how different light refraction creates a big difference in how see or not see the crease lines of the body, and how the pearl white paint can play a big trick on the eyes with linear light source compared to broad sources.
(note also the rear fender, almost looks flat on the bottom as the wide angle lens shrinks the rear of the car, while on the top photos, they appear much more beefy and wide.)

Just somethings to note on how we look at details of body lines....and how we must be careful to judge by photos and imagine what it is like in reality.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:05 AM   #14
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Moto-San said it perfectly, go out and see both for yourself if possible; you won't really appreciate the nuances of either without being able to stare at it and even touch it.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:17 AM   #15
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Although remarkably similar, each car definitely has it's high points. It's a bad thing we can't order one specifically to our tailored specifications from the factory. That would be perfect! Imagine an FRS with BRZ seats and those awesome HID headlights! But it's a great thing we are able to find and order parts from the other car, swap them, and personalize them the way we want.

By the way, since you have both cars, are the rearview mirrors the same? Specifically, the way they are mounted? Considering getting my hands on the frameless rearview mirror but not sure if the BRZ will accommodate them.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:28 AM   #16
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Good read & review, just one correction. It's not really a fake CF... it's "T" emblem that kinda looks like CF
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:39 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by PERRIN_Jeff View Post
The FR-S we received came with this extra part. Its an iPod holder and coin holder for your cup holder. The bottom is opened up to accept the plug from the iPod. This allows you to just snap it in and start listening to music. Pretty cool!
Dang it!  As the #2 guy to take delivery of my First 86, FRS in the USA, I didn't get this iPhone holder, and I got an ashtray instead...
I'm a smoker, but not in my car...

Going to the dealer to ask for my phone/pen stand LOL!

The little slot on the center elbow area holds the iPhone really nicely too.
But that same location for cup holder is sort of useless for holding drinks since its out of your reach unless you are Houdini...

I agree on the BRZ's offering of Limited model. Those items like Dual Zone Auto AC, HIDs and, Alcantara seating is only available as an $6000 option pack in Japan as 86 GT-Limited or BRZ Limited... Pushing the starting price to well over $32,000 in the home market.

To get all those things on the USA car for $2500 over the Premium model is a STEAL...for $27,900.

My life as Club4AG and AE86 user for the last 25 years, I simply could not be politically correct in buying something from Subaru over a Toyota dealership, but yeah in this case, knowing the two cars are almost identical siblings built on the same line, for those who are in the market and live in a locale where you can buy either at MSRP, I say SUBARU Limited BRZ is the BEST value. I totally agree.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:50 AM   #18
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In all the photos of the front section, the FRS/86's 'vertical' slot for the fog lamps and turn signals draw the eye, especially in comparisons shots. Making the FRS seem almost taller at the nose and BRZ wider with shorter wider slot. This had me nit-picking before I saw the real car.

When I saw both cars in person, however, the seeming uniform color of the tip of the nose of the FRS, cancelled that thought, and rather the BRZ looked almost taller at the nose with the black 'bumper' extending at the tip drawing more eye notices, and seemingly more bulky.

Then noticed also in retrospect, that the two slots for to the side that bugged me so much in picture, was really the LAST thing I saw when looking at the entire car. The nose is SO low on this car that vertical lamp slots on the FRS wasn't really a bad thing, and it helped visually taper the nose to a point in perception. The vertical crease line on the FRS blends in to help the lateral tapering to a point on the nose. BRZ takes more of a traditional approach and resists the tapering effect it seems, and dulls the nose point, and gives side markers and width of the nose more precedence. So for those who love the way Japanese cars looked in the 90's we might see a preference to the Subaru nose, while those who like the flair and color and dynamic lines of an Italian car of more recent, the FRS/86 seems to cater to that sensual appetite. I like them both for what they bring to the table as variety.

Amazing how simple shapes and color differences on this car can have such dramatic impact on how we perceive things in 3D and in person.
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:12 AM   #19
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Our Aussie cars have slight difference with the indicators on the bumper being clear and the head lights are also different

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Old 06-13-2012, 07:12 AM   #20
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Great review! Thank-you for posting.

What are your thoughts on the audio quality of the 2 cars? I know that the base FR-S has a 300 watt Pioneer unit and the upgrade is the Bespoke- I-phone friendly and 340 watts.

How does the audio in the Subaru compare performance wise?

If anyone can chime in that would be great - thanks

Last edited by maxdriver; 06-13-2012 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:13 AM   #21
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They should make this thread a sticky!!!
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:33 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sasquachulator View Post
The FRS does its own sweep. It goes to where the shift light is (12 position? dunno if its adjustable) pauses a bit, then comes back down.

Confirmed. I set the shift light at 4100 rpm and the tach sweeps to just below that, and then comes down.

I believe the default shift light is around 6000 rpm.
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