2013 Scion FR-S Edges Out 2013 Subaru BRZ in Data Throwdown

Just the Facts:
  • Edmunds data shows the 2013 Scion FR-S has taken the early sales lead over its twin, the 2013 Subaru BRZ.
  • But the BRZ captures more buyers in the coveted under-34 age group.
  • The two cars virtually tied in measurements of online traffic, owner loyalty, and trade-ins.

SANTA MONICA, California — The numbers are in, and Edmunds data shows the 2013 Scion FR-S edges out its twin, the 2013 Subaru BRZ. But it's a close race.

Since the two rear-wheel-drive sport coupes were introduced in 2012 amid a massive media blitz, comparisons have been inevitable. A joint venture between Toyota and Subaru, the cars are so similar they're often called the "Toyobaru."

They pair were conceived together, with Toyota responsible for engineering and powertrain development and Subaru handling design work. They're built at the same plant in Japan and powered by the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine putting out 200 horsepower. Trim and equipment differences are minor.

In the U.S., the FR-S outsells the BRZ by 2.6 to 1. There are a couple obvious reasons for this. The BRZ has a higher transaction price at $28,443, according to Edmunds data, versus $26,342 for the FR-S. And Scion has hundreds more dealers than Subaru, making it easier to find one.

The BRZ makes a comeback in the area of customer demographics, though. Both companies hoped the cars would reel in highly prized Generation Y buyers, and 20 percent of BRZ buyers are 34 and under, giving it a 2 percent advantage over the FR-S.

When it comes to online traffic, as demonstrated by hits on Edmunds.com, it's difficult to pick a winner. In terms of sheer numbers, more people looking for an affordable sporty car have considered the FR-S. The Scion made up 10.6 percent of all entry-level sports car traffic in its peak month, last July.

On the other hand, more BRZ shoppers also browsed other Subaru products, important because drawing customers to the brand is a major goal for these cars. Every Subaru model, except the Tribeca, is among the 20 most cross-shopped vehicles by BRZ browsers. But Scion only has one, the tC, in the Top 20 among FR-S shoppers.

Owner loyalty and trade-ins are other comparisons that end in near-ties. The BRZ draws more Subaru trade-ins than the FR-S does Toyotas, indicating stronger brand loyalty. However, the other side of the coin is that the FR-S, by attracting more trade-ins from other companies, is helping capture market share from the competition.

When two cars are this evenly matched it's pretty well impossible to declare a clear winner based on specifications alone. But the fact that the Scion FR-S outsells the Subaru BRZ by such a wide margin means that the contest was decided in the marketplace, which is, in the end, the only place that matters to the manufacturers.

Edmunds says: The numbers have spoken, and, in terms of sales, the Scion FR-S wins the throwdown against its virtual twin. But with the cars sharing so much DNA, the BRZ remains an attractive option for Subaru fans.

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