Josh recently asserted that the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ don’t come with enough horsepower from the factory. But I feel that my BRZ has just the right amount of power for all of the jobs I ask it to do. And now, in my first piece for Right Foot Down, I’m going to tell you why Josh is wrong.
The BRZ, as well as its FR-S cousin, come with Michelin Primacy HP tires. These are often referred to as “Prius tires,” because some versions of the Toyota Prius come with these as well. They are a hard, low rolling resistance, low grip tire. This is great for improving gas mileage, which is the reason the Prius exists. But it’s terrible for performance, which is the reason the BRZ exists. It takes no effort at all to spin these tires under throttle. They’re great for drifting, and not for much else. They can’t even transfer the 200hp the car comes with to the ground effectively. Any additional power would only turn tires into smoke more quickly.
I only have the one car, so it does it all – daily driving, corner carving, cone dodging, and track driving. The vast majority of my driving is commuting to work and back, usually stuck behind someone driving 5-10mph below the speed limit for no reason. Even when I do get to open her up a little bit, like to squeeze through a tight gap in cross traffic, the BRZ has no problem getting out of its own way. On-ramps are fun, but it’s easy to enter the highway faster than the rest of traffic by driving the ramp well. Even on empty rural roads with reasonably high speed limits, the BRZ has plenty of power to pull out of the corners and set up for the next one.
Of course, my opinion of “plenty” is probably biased. I stumbled into my first autocross in a 1995 Mercury Tracer automatic with a whopping 88 blazing horses. My E21 BMW 320i had barely over 100, and all three of my NA Miatas were early models with the 116hp 1.6 motor. The Miatas weighed a lot less than my BRZ, but I got smoked at the drag strip by a CRX, which isn’t exactly a powerhouse itself. But pipsqueak motors aren’t the only kind I’ve owned – my ex-cop Crown Victoria had a 4.6 liter V8 boasting 239hp. But that’s only 39hp more than my BRZ, which weighs 1500lbs less than that beast. So compared to other cars I’ve owned, the BRZ is a rocket.
But I’ve always been one to believe it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to have to drive a fast car slow. Anyone can put their right foot down and go fast in a straight line. It takes skill to keep up with the “faster” cars in the corners, or to go faster than them and get a point-by, and I enjoy that challenge. Instructors love to see a novice HPDE driver show up with an FR-S or BRZ, because it’s a whole lot easier to control 200hp than a 435hp Mustang GT. Plus, the BRZ will still be faster in the corners despite having less than half the horsepower.
So what do I have against horsepower, anyway? Nothing. Really, I don’t. If you want a more powerful FR-S or BRZ, there are many ways to do it – so go for it! And there’s nothing wrong with choosing that Mustang GT, or enjoying some mad straight line acceleration, either. Even I added a Nameless Performance axle-back exhaust to my BRZ, though I realize I’m probably gaining more sound than horsepower. And once the warranty is up, I’d like to get a tune to cure the infamous mid-range torque dip. I just don’t feel a need for more power than that just now.
Photo credit: Allison Feldhusen