Two for the Road

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Don Davis Toyota

1661 Wet N' Wild Way

Arlington

877-432-9132

Jerry Durant Toyota

5100 U.S. 377 E

Granbury

888-256-6558

Durant Toyota

3131 Fort Worth

Highway

Weatherford

888-257-6303

Freeman Toyota

204 NE Loop 820

Hurst

888-438-2019

Hiley Subaru

3535 W. Loop 820 S

Fort Worth

817-632-8800

Texas Toyota

of Grapevine

801 Texas 114

Grapevine

877-398-4189

Toyota

of Fort Worth

9001 Camp Bowie

Blvd. West

Fort Worth

817-560-1500

Vandergriff

Toyota

1000 W. I-20

Arlington

817-468-8696

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Never say never, but it's doubtful that über-rivals Ford and GM would ever collaborate on anything, much less the joint development of a sports car. Too much pride, too much sacred brand identity, too much competitive drive.

And that's OK, because Toyota and Subaru have no such reservations. Say hello to the twins, Scion's FR-S and Subie's BRZ, jointly designed and developed by the two independent automakers. Subaru engineered the chassis and powertrain, while Toyota finagled the design. Subaru's 2.0-liter boxer flat-four is matched with Toyota's port- and direct fuel-injection system. Interior-wise, the Subaru is a bit nicer. They're slightly different in looks and comfort but in terms of greatness, they're identical.

No less an authority than Consumer Reports magazine labels both cars a "Top Pick" in the April auto issue. In what is considered by many to be the most influential annual industry auto report card, CR fawns:

"If you take your driving fun seriously, these almost identical twins were built for you. Co-developed by Subaru and Toyota, which builds Scion vehicles, both are exhilarating to drive, with super-sharp handling, excellent braking and ample acceleration. Other draws: impressive gas mileage and reasonable sticker prices. Yes, they are purebred, rear-wheel-drive sports cars, with a jittery ride, noisy cabins and small rear seats. So Camry lovers might want to cruise on by. FR-S $25,025; BRZ $27,117." Test score: 82-83. Reliability: Above average. Overall mpg: 30.

What they didn't say: If you're looking to thrash curves and corners, enjoy neck-snapping acceleration and laugh when slamming brakes to a smoking "Whoa" while looking awesome, welcome home.

Both vehicles have superb balance and reflexes, making even a quick drive to the market an adventure. Power isn't overwhelming but it's plentiful: 200 horsepower and 151 torque is plenty for a 2,800-pound roller skate, especially at a throaty 7,000 rpm, aided by the super-snickety six-speed precision clutch. Heretics can opt for a perfectly acceptable automatic with paddles but must prepare themselves for ridicule.

And then there's this: Driving through Central Market's parking lot, we heard a little kid say, "THAT! That's what I want, Paw-Paw!" We can only presume there's a grandpa out there writing a check even as we speak.

He'd best hustle: Both Subaru and Toyota are accepting pre-orders, but supplies are limited. In fact, 15,000 from both partners are already spoken for, and the FR-S looks like it'll be Scion's bestselling model ever.

The only thing missing is a drop top, a situation that is expected to be remedied in 2015. We can't wait.

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