Poll: Which Toyobaru would you buy?

I’ve been receiving a few submissions for the “Best car I’ve ever owned” series. I haven’t had time to reply yet, or post them on site, but will get to that in due course. Thanks very much to those who have sent stories and pictures in. You’re ace.

In the meantime, maybe we can spend a moment considering a pair of vehicles that might make it onto future all-time favourite car lists.

Toyota have caused a stir here in Australia by announcing that their new sports coupe, simply called the 86 here in Oz, will be available for a hair under A$30,000. That’s a few thousand cheaper than expected, so people are very happy.

The car’s been getting very good reviews, too:

Yes, the Toyota 86 is as good as you dared to dream it would be.

It’s a sublime driver’s car that handles beautifully, responds to your every input and is damn quick too.

That’s perhaps the most glowing. You can judge for yourself whether Car Advice were a bit over the top, but they gave it 5 stars out of 5.

CarsGuide were willing to tone things down (by the tiniest bit):

The 86 is the most enjoyable drive you will find without jumping into a Porsche, combining brilliant grip and balance with a sublime ride and steering that keeps you totally in touch with the road.

It can feel a little underpowered, and the dub-dub-dub exhaust note on start-up is a constant reminder that Subaru was a 50:50 partner in the car, but there is a huge amount to like in the 86 and very little to complain about.

So, apparently it’s a pretty decent drive.

We don’t have pricing details here for the Subaru BRZ yet, but I’ll pose the question anyway – Given proximate pricing on the part of Subaru, which would you choose – the Subaru BRZ or the Toyota 86?

I have to admit I’m a bit of a badge snob and the idea of buying a Toyota, no matter how good, just doesn’t appeal to me.

On the other side, the Subie looks the goods and has a brand rep that I’m more tuned in to. Plus, it’d probably feel more genuine to me as it’s a Subie engine under the hood of both cars. And I prefer blue.

To the polls!! Favourite cars of all time start tomorrow.

[poll id=”4″]


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      1. The Scion is a great car, Its handling is right on par even at the smaller rpms (less than 24 hours took it autocrossing) with the higher end AWD sedans that would cost upwards of 40k easily. It is a true drivers car for sure but not a practical car. Space is very limited for cargo and unless you are use to getting into a car that is sitting very low it is a shock for the first few times. It does offer great gas mileage on the high way(36mpg) and is seriously fun to drive. All the reports are right, the car is a blast and could use a little more in the power department but the handling department is up to par.

        1. It’s nice to see a car living up to the anticipation that preceded it. Could this be the MX-5/Miata of sports coupes?

  1. The Subaru looks like a cross between a Hyundai Tiburon and a grey import Toyota Supra. Which is much nicer than the Toyota below it. My vote to the Scoobie.

  2. Strangely enough, the Subie looks a bit more subtle than the Toyota. Combine that with a good dealer close to the house from which we recently bought an Outback, and the BRZ is the obvious choice. Then again, with two very young kids, can’t see either as a practical option for my garage.

  3. Hmm… this is a difficult choice with just those two pics. I’m not much on Toyotas because of their normally boring designs. And having owned a Subaru with the flat-four engine, I think I’d probably like that brand’s offering better. But in reality they both look good.

    1. They’ve both got the flat four, Andy. They were co-developed and are essentially the same vehicle, aside from the badges and bumpers.

  4. I picked the Subie. My reasons are varied, but boil down to these three things:

    1) It’s got a Subaru engine, therefore it’s a Subaru. The Toyota version is a badge job (at least in my subconscious).
    2) In the US, the Toyota version is badged as a Scion. I find the Scion brand as dumb as I did GM’s efforts with the Geo brand.
    3) Land Cruiser aside, I don’t actually like Toyotas. I think people fall into one of two camps…they either really like Toyotas or they loathe them.

    I can appreciate both cars for being the quick, light, nimble sports coupes so many of us have said we’ve wanted, it’s just that I think I’d like the Subaru better. Besides, I’ve already got a Subaru to park it next to.

  5. Of the two, I prefer the looks of the Subaru. But I am a bit disappointed by the performance. I haven’t driven the car, but on paper the Subaru BRZ takes 7.6s from 0 – 100 km/h, while my 1997 Porsche Boxster takes 6.9s. The Subaru has 200HP and weighs 1,220kg. The Porsche 204HP and 1,250kg. Both use boxer engines, but the Porsche has six cylinders while the Subaru four. But still, 15 years of engine development and the Subaru can’t match the Porsche? That’s disappointing. For Subaru’s sake, I hope it is a thrilling drive nonetheless.

  6. I was a big fan of the gen 7 Celica so have a soft spot for the Toyota, but, in essence the car is a Subaru so I would go with the purer BRZ and also enjoy the wonderful Subaru back-up after purchase! 🙂

  7. Interesting….I just checked the specs of the BRZ at the US Subaru web site and it says the 6-speed auto gets better gas mileage than the 6-speed manual. That is the first time I have seen that.

    As for its looks…the pictures look pretty good….except for that gaping “mouth” on the front (a feature that is more pronounced now too on the Mazda Speed 3…ruining its looks). Would need to see the BRZ in the sheet metal first, though. But glad to hear it is fun to drive.

  8. I don’t understand the car and I don’t understand the Australia motoring press. Mind you I’ve not driven the car myself so I could be wrong.

    Cars Guide (Aus): The 86 is the most enjoyable drive you will find without jumping into a Porsche
    Evo (UK): The big shock is that the Megane was much more thrilling, more fun and more adjustable than the rear wheel drive BRZ

    Sure I understand that Toyota has built a car (for the first time since the 90s) that isn’t for 4wders or people who hate driving, but is it worth all this hype?

    Evo Mag say the Megane is a better driver than the 86. In Australia the 86 GTS’s rrp is $1,000 less than the Clio (roughly same equipment level). It has the same power, 10 less Nm, and is 100kg heavier than the Clio.

    I think in the price range you can’t go past the Clio, I’ll take the 86/BRZ for a test drive and see how it goes, however I don’t think it’ll live up to the all the hype.

    1. I agree, Brendan. I’m surprised by all the hoopla.

      BUT, as a car person who’s complained about the greying of the industry in general over the last decade(s) it’s just encouraging to see manufacturers like these doing a project like this. Affordable and sporty – more of it and make it better!

      1. So all the first batch of 86s are sold, that’s 400 cars sold in a matter of days after the pricing is released. There’s now a minimum two month wait.

  9. I’d pick the Scooby Doo every day of the week for two main reasons.

    1. It’s a Scooby Doo – The Japanese Saab?
    2. It’s not a Toyota

    1. It’s not a Toyota?

      This is as much badge engineering as GM’s Pontiac/Chevy days… they didn’t even change the wheels! What amazes me is the hoods must be different around the headlights, but otherwise the hood metalwork looks the same – even the bloody lines trailing back from the badge!

      That said, I kind of like what Toyota is doing to Subaru at least aesthetically (imho the new Impreza is a big step in that regard)… One could say though it is a bit akin to what happened to the 9-3 under GM: not necessarily bad, but definitely more mainstream.

      All in all, I like the Subie better aesthetically because it is cleaner. Neither is a car I would buy.

      That said, I don’t see what others see in Subies. I tried to like them. Most of our friends own them. Did a few long term rentals in recent Subies hoping to find one comparable to a Saab (in our northern climate). Very mediocre seats + ergonomics, the automatic trannies are terrible, and handling (of the Forester at least) was amazingly awful. My wife is not overly performance oriented + yet she was appalled by the handling, gearing, + poor sight lines. Completely off my list. Too bad, because there are many nice things about them on paper.

      We’ll be keeping the classic Saabs running as long as we can, that is for sure!

      1. It’s not a Toyota?

        The car is a 50/50 cooperative effort between Toyota and Subaru. They shared the whole thing and both cars will feature the same boxer engine (Subaru) and mechanicals. The only likely differences (aside from badges, bumpers and some light metal) will be equipment packages. For example, Toyota will offer the 86 with two equipment levels here in Australia, but Subaru will only have once version of the BRZ.

        Both vehicles will be built at Subaru’s plant.

  10. If the 86 is the most enjoyable ride without jumping on a Porsche, the BRZ offers a Boxer engine on top of that. 😉

  11. This is not about the car, clearly. But about Brand perception. In the end, that’s why people actually buy the car they want to own…the BADGE!!!!

  12. The main design difference is that the Subaru is smiling, and the Toyota is frowning. Both are mostly forgettable. Think Genesis coupe minus any interesting design elements.

    I wouldn’t pick either, I’ve been down that road already. Toyota and Subaru are the worst for biodegradable interiors and cheap materials. The seat foam will collapse within a few years, the thin veneer on door handles and steering wheel will wear through, and the paint will be flat and lifeless. Judging by the cars around me on the road, Subaru hasn’t yet addressed their rust issues (not as bad as Mazda, but still endemic to the brand). I see the same bubbles on body panels of almost new cars.

    Worse of all, I have no faith in engine management from either brand. My Subie would missfire if you ran it above the speed limit for an hour on a hot day, even with the highest octane available, and Toyota’s CPU issues are legendary. I’ve got a friend who makes a decent living fixing Subies with blown head gaskets, so I don’t buy into the notion that the bozer engines are “bullet proof” either.

    There really is no way that I would spend my own money on either car. Plus the Abarth looks like more fun, more passion, more technology, less weight, more style and more practicality for less money (in North America).

  13. One of my friends who has a Evo, and does rallying with a WRX, took one for a spin last weekend. He was crushed. He said it was extremely disappointing compared to the hype, and that he’ll wait for the MX-5 (Miata) replacement to come out instead.

  14. Swade,
    My wife and I have been buying new SAABs since #1, a 1975 99 EMS. I would never buy a Japanese nameplate car. It’s an emotional issue as most car issues are for enthusiasts. To me, a SAAB is an anti-Toyota and vice versa. Yes, I know that Toyotas generally have stellar reliability records. I can see that is the reason the average person buys them. For me SAAB, ABBA, and Sweden all came together at the same time. I was driving up to Minnesota (I live in Iowa) land of the first Swedish immigrants due to it looking like central Sweden (thousands of lakes, birches, and pines) listening to ABBA and pretending to be in Sweden (I’ve been there 3 times now). A very strong dyed in-the-wool emotional loyalty to SAAB, Sweden, and ABBA has been permanently installed in my brain. I will smile at my neighbor’s Toyota and maybe even say nice car, but you won’t catch me dead in one.

  15. There are some differences in the handling of the two (I think the Scion is more drift-happy) but without having driven either yet, I’d probably opt for the Subie, only bc I haven’t had any problems with my wrx so I have a favorable impression of the marque. I read an interview with a senior project mgr of the BRZ who hinted strongly that a turbo charged version making around 280 hp is or would be in the works.

  16. Some more information on the BRZ in Australia

    The BRZ should be out shortly. Australia is going to be getting 100 cars. The current agreement with Toyota is the cars will be distributed based on market share. In Australia Toyota sells 8 cars for every 1 Subaru sold (across the range) therefore 800 86s this year and 100 BRZs. The BRZ (1 model only) will range from $37 – $41K on road depending on options.

    You will not be able to walk into a dealer and purchase one, you will only be able to purchase/order via the Subaru Australia website.