If You Want The FR-S And BRZ To Sell Better, Give Them More Power

Illustration for article titled If You Want The FR-S And BRZ To Sell Better, Give Them More Power

I recently read an article about the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. This wasn't hard to do. Over the past year, virtually every automotive article has been about the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, including ones that were about other cars. "The completely redesigned Mercedes S-Class boasts entirely new styling and features," Autoblog might write, for instance. "But it still isn't as cool as the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ."


And that's part of the reason I was so surprised by the article I read. For once, it wasn't a story about how great the FR-S and BRZ are, or how well they handle, or how they're the automotive equivalent of God, which is the kind of thing that FR-S and BRZ owners say at Cars and Coffee. ("I stopped going to church after I got this car, man. Now, check out my Android phone.")

Instead, it was a piece about how sales haven't been good enough to justify a version with more horsepower. Some Toyota executive said this, presumably after a rather long, mind-altering acid trip.


I have my reasons for taking this position, but first I'm going to provide some background. Background is important for people like my girlfriend, who occasionally reads my columns but knows nothing about cars. "What is Scion?" she'll ask, for example. "Some kind of laundry detergent?"


In terms of the FR-S and BRZ, the background is this: both cars came out for the 2013 model year to an insane amount of fanfare. Dealers were charging over sticker. People were paying it. Guys would go online and brag about how they had the first one in their area. I once saw an FR-S in a parking lot, and I made the mistake of saying – within earshot of the owner – that I couldn't tell apart the FR-S and BRZ. The next five minutes of my life were spent going over every individual detail until – oh, wait, do you feel that? … oh, I think it's my phone vibrating … oh, shoot! It's my mom! Gotta take this! Nice talking to you, though!

It was that kind of car.

And yet, there was always this lingering problem. Now, I know we have some FR-S and BRZ owners here on Jalopnik, and certainly many FR-S and BRZ appreciaters, so I'm going to be very delicate with this. The problem was that the FR-S and BRZ are kind of… underpowered. What I mean here is that they're not as fast as other sports cars, but they're faster than, say, the Jeep Patriot.


But here's the thing: this didn't seem to stop people from buying them. The FR-S and BRZ quickly became some of the fastest-selling cars of 2012. They were flying off the shelves. They were going like hotcakes. They were selling so quickly that automotive journalists were struggling to come up with metaphors to describe the situation. And most importantly: they were bringing people into Scion showrooms, real people, and not just Toyota customers looking for an unoccupied bathroom stall.

But it's been two years, and that means sales are finally starting to slow down. That, ladies and gentlemen, is totally normal. The early adopters already have their FR-S or BRZ, and they're currently bragging about it to uninterested co-workers. ("The engine is technically in the middle. It's like a Porsche. But it's way more reliable. And cheaper. Sometimes I call it the Porsche. When I'm waxing it. Hey, where are you going?! I haven't told you about the flat engine yet!")


And the rest of us? We're waiting for a version with more horsepower.

To be honest, I thought this was the strategy all along: release the slow one first and the fast one later. I say this because the same strategy has been used by every single automaker in the history of time. For instance: when Porsche comes out with a new 911, they release the regular one first, and then, two or three years down the line, they roll out the Turbo. It's the same strategy BMW uses with the M3, Audi uses with the S4, and Ferrari uses with "Scuderia" or "Speciale" versions of its sports cars. That way, you can sell two cars: one to the guy who just has to have the newest version, and then another one a few years later, when that very same guy decides he wants a few more horses under the hood.


What these brands don't do is go out in public and complain about how sales aren't strong enough to justify a performance version. Instead, they've been engineering the performance version all along. And then, just when sales of the normal model are starting to taper off, just when people are losing interest, WHAM! The performance version goes on sale, and suddenly you've pissed off everyone who just bought the regular model.

So my suggestion to you, overlords of the Toyobaru, is simple: if sales are starting to die down, now's the time to give us the performance version. In turn, I think I speak for all of my auto journalist colleagues when I say that we will continue to mention the car in every article we write. As an example, here's a good lede I have saved up: Mitsubishi announced today that it is finally leaving the US market, citing increased regulation, stiff competition, and the fact that they don't make a Scion FR-S competitor.


Perfect, right? OK, Toyota and Subaru: now it's your turn.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.


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