3 Amigos: Toyota GT-86, Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ

Ever since Toyota and Subaru announced their plans to jointly develop a modern sports coupe back at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, many potential buyers and fans of Toyota’s sports car past were deeply interested to see just what the production car would look and be like. Now fast forward to the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, where the production models of the Japanese sports coupes were unveiled. Toyota’s version is called the GT-86, as homage to the original AE 86. While the GT-86 and Scion FR-S are virtually identical, save for the badging and some slight tuning differences. The Subaru BRZ features a different front end and a few other very minor changes. As many people are also aware by now, the GT-86 will be sold in European and Japanese markets, while the FR-S is specifically for the U.S, in an effort to add some spice to Scion. The BRZ will be sold in all three markets. Still, all three are the same machine underneath and we found ourselves curious to see just what the exact differences are. Our final results: Not much, but here’s a closer look.

Power for all three comes from a Subaru-developed naturally aspirated 2.0-liter flat-four boxer engine, producing 200hp and 151lb-ft of torque. Toyota was in charge of styling while Subaru handled most of the engineering tasks. It’s certainly not a bad-looking coupe, but we can’t help but wonder that if a bit more effort was made, the exterior styling could be even better. Overall, it’s a handsome design that will likely age gracefully as the years go by.

The GT-86 and FR-S feature an inverted trapezoid grille with a sweeping fog light design, while the BRZ has a more conventionally styled grille. The name of the game for engineers was to keep weight to a minimal, as each car has an aluminum hood, a hardtop roof, and a trunk design instead that of a hatchback. The boxer engine also sits as far back and as low as possible to allow for optimal weight distribution and a low center of gravity.

Should we even be surprised? Save for the badges, we’re looking at the same rear end design.

Again, it’s the same deal. However, both the GT-86 and BRZ come with more upgraded features such as a better stereo and the option of leather and Alcantara seating. The cars’ 2+2 layout gives it a small backseat that can be folded flat to allow for increased trunk space. Buyers have a choice between a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The latter of which was engineered to mimic the response time of a dual-clutch gearbox. 17-inch wheels are standard on all three.