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Old 07-17-2012, 08:09 AM   #1
lark6
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Default BRZ: The Second Coming of the Porsche 944?

Sorry, not sure where this should go but thought here would be best. From a Porsche fan mag.

http://www.9magazine.com/porsche-944-or-subaru-brz.html

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Porsche’s long-lived 944 was introduced to the United States in 1983. While it carried on an updated version of the already long-in-the-tooth 924 chassis, it offered improved handling, additional power, and better drivability, not to mention wide body good looks.

As with most Porsches, the 944 gained power and suspension upgrades for the length of its production lifecycle. The series one 944 models from 1983 through early 1985 were the lightest of the breed, and while they offered the least power, and weren’t exactly quick by Porsche standards, but certainly had a Porsche feel.

The Porsche legend goes that it was the “suits” in Stuttgart that drove 911s, yet the engineers understood the true calling of near-perfect weight distribution, and opted for the 944 as their company car of choice. A Porsche isn’t about the pursuit of outright speed; it’s about the optimization of a given set of parts. But, then again, I don’t have to tell you that.

It seems like someone finally told Subaru about this ideal, as they have taken a giant Xerox machine to the first 944 and produced a very similar, yet surprisingly modern twist on the theme. Working with Toyota to produce a simple, lightweight, rear wheel drive sports car, Subaru has introduced the BRZ.

The BRZ has taken the 944 ideology quite literally. Today’s BRZ comes in only a few pounds heavier than the ’83 944 models with manual steering racks. The BRZ is about 6 inches longer in it’s wheelbase, but shorter overhangs mean it is actually shorter overall (166.9 inches vs. 170.0).

The 944 used a 2.5 liter slant four to produce its approximate 150 horsepower. With the standard 5-speed gearbox, the factory claimed an extraordinarily modest 0-60 time of “less than 9 seconds”. Some magazines of the time placed the 944’s sprint somewhere around 7.8 seconds.

Subaru is famous for their All Wheel Drive cars and extreme weather drivability. Where does a sports car slot into their lineup? Well, the BRZ is a modification of the brand new Impreza platform, and uses their tried and true flat-four cylinder engine. While the BRZ has only 2.0 liters under the hood, its FA20 engine produces an even 200 horsepower, and is driven through a brand new 6-speed manual box. With that extra 50 horsepower, and a lot more grip from meatier tires, the BRZ only bests the 944 to 60 by a mere half second.

Is the BRZ competing for market share with a 35 year old car? Is it really smart to buy a 25,000 dollar Subaru when you can get a very similar experience for a small fraction of that? In fact, the much faster 944 Turbos can be had in excellent shape for under ten thousand… Well, to me, it seems like the second coming of the 944 is upon us, and the BRZ is as close to a brand new 35 year old Porsche, that comes with a warranty. This is the “sub-boxster” that Porsche should have built.

Do we really need a Macan? Can’t we have a new 944?
Talk amongst yourselves.
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Old 07-17-2012, 08:25 AM   #2
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He makes a lot of decent points. My buddy has a perfectly restored 944 turbo and it is a blast to drive. Very quick and so solid feeling. The BRZ is a spectacular car and I foresee a very 944 like future for it. Slow progression on a near perfect chassis.
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Old 07-17-2012, 08:44 AM   #3
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I hope the model lasts 9 years, but I wouldn't bet on it.
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:55 AM   #4
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the new 944 is the boxster. 944s were not that cheap in their prime.

We can only hope there is a toyobaru Sti in the spirit of the bad ass 89 944/951 turbo s. Those cars are still pretty fast by modern standards.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:05 PM   #5
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Interesting article, but suggesting buying a 35 year old car vs. a brand new car is a non-sequitor.
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Old 07-17-2012, 01:21 PM   #6
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So the 944 was introduced in the US in 1983 and it is a 35 year old car???? Righttt......What a pointless article, like the BRZ is the only car to have been introduced since the 944 with a 4 cylinder rear wheel drive manual trans? Why is this even a comparison between Subaru and Porsche? This article makes no sense.
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Old 07-17-2012, 01:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gheorghe View Post
So the 944 was introduced in the US in 1983 and it is a 35 year old car???? Righttt......What a pointless article, like the BRZ is the only car to have been introduced since the 944 with a 4 cylinder rear wheel drive manual trans? Why is this even a comparison between Subaru and Porsche? This article makes no sense.
Porsche was talking about building an entry level sports car with a flat 4 engine. Then they said it wasn't going to happen. The author seems to be wishing Porsche had taken the gamble rather than letting Subaru & Toyota beat them to the punch.
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Old 07-17-2012, 05:12 PM   #8
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1: BRZ is not a 944. Base 944 was basically a porsche-built engine and fender flares on a 924 at first. 951 (944 Turbo) was a much higher performance animal.

2: BRZ could have used Legacy GT's cable shifted 6MT converted to lateral 2WD to act as a transaxle car... but they didn't. 924, 944, 951, 968, and 928 were all transaxle cars for weight bias. BRZ/FRS/GT86 is not a transaxle car.

3: BRZ, and FRS especially, are less expensive now than 951 and S2/968 were in their day. Maybe closer to 924 sort of price point...

4: Porsche went back to properly mid-engined layout after 968 with the 986 Boxster. Toyota could have asked for a new MR2, rather than a new AE86... yet they didn't. Again, the same FA20 engine, and a 2WD version of the '10-12 Legacy 6-speed cable-shift transaxle could have been used to put the engine in the mid-ship position, behind the driver, and the handling would be even better than BRZ... although slightly less practical in terms of seat-fold-down cargo area.

944, especially 944 Turbo, S2, and later 968, seem like a more special car than BRZ, and most of that is the tech spec of putting the transmission between the rear tires, with the differential.
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:38 PM   #9
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The BRZ reminds me more of the Porsche 914 -- use a boxer engine to get a crazy low center of gravity in an affordable sports car with good handling (and skinny tires ).
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:03 AM   #10
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It's still slow.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:22 AM   #11
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It's still slow.
While I agree and it's not for me I'm glad it and the FR-S are finding buyers. If nothing else it may lead to a turbo BRZ or better handling WRX/STI.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
1: BRZ is not a 944. Base 944 was basically a porsche-built engine and fender flares on a 924 at first. 951 (944 Turbo) was a much higher performance animal.

2: BRZ could have used Legacy GT's cable shifted 6MT converted to lateral 2WD to act as a transaxle car... but they didn't. 924, 944, 951, 968, and 928 were all transaxle cars for weight bias. BRZ/FRS/GT86 is not a transaxle car.

3: BRZ, and FRS especially, are less expensive now than 951 and S2/968 were in their day. Maybe closer to 924 sort of price point...

4: Porsche went back to properly mid-engined layout after 968 with the 986 Boxster. Toyota could have asked for a new MR2, rather than a new AE86... yet they didn't. Again, the same FA20 engine, and a 2WD version of the '10-12 Legacy 6-speed cable-shift transaxle could have been used to put the engine in the mid-ship position, behind the driver, and the handling would be even better than BRZ... although slightly less practical in terms of seat-fold-down cargo area.

944, especially 944 Turbo, S2, and later 968, seem like a more special car than BRZ, and most of that is the tech spec of putting the transmission between the rear tires, with the differential.
You are letting details get in the way of the spirit of the post. The original 944, which was heralded as one of the best driving machines ever to grace our roads was not fast and it was not mid engined. The BRZ is not fast by modern standards, and is infinitely more useful than a mid engine compact car. The Hatch and notional rear seating area would be gone with a mid engine lay out, and so would the practicality of the car. Which is a huge selling point to the vast majority of us. Is that worth trading off for a mid engine layout , that may or may not have a noticeable improvement in handling over the already sublime handling the BRZ has.

Agree the Transaxle is a tastey bit, but using parts you already have without having to modify them keeps costs down. This is suppose to be a cheap car, not a bespoke super car.

I have a hard time questioning any decision on the BRZ. It all makes perfect sense for the price point they were shooting for.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
1: BRZ is not a 944. Base 944 was basically a porsche-built engine and fender flares on a 924 at first. 951 (944 Turbo) was a much higher performance animal.

2: BRZ could have used Legacy GT's cable shifted 6MT converted to lateral 2WD to act as a transaxle car... but they didn't. 924, 944, 951, 968, and 928 were all transaxle cars for weight bias. BRZ/FRS/GT86 is not a transaxle car.

3: BRZ, and FRS especially, are less expensive now than 951 and S2/968 were in their day. Maybe closer to 924 sort of price point...

4: Porsche went back to properly mid-engined layout after 968 with the 986 Boxster. Toyota could have asked for a new MR2, rather than a new AE86... yet they didn't. Again, the same FA20 engine, and a 2WD version of the '10-12 Legacy 6-speed cable-shift transaxle could have been used to put the engine in the mid-ship position, behind the driver, and the handling would be even better than BRZ... although slightly less practical in terms of seat-fold-down cargo area.

944, especially 944 Turbo, S2, and later 968, seem like a more special car than BRZ, and most of that is the tech spec of putting the transmission between the rear tires, with the differential.
Obvious they are not the same, but the concept and philosophy are very similar.

The BRZ is nearly perfect in modern days. There was no way believable a car like the BRZ/FR-S can happen with modern standards.

Back then it's different, There was less regulations, more demand in sports cars, and people perhaps wealthier.

The 944 put the transmission on the back to give a better weight balance, not to make it special. They didn't need that in the BRZ. And again the Porsche cost more.

Subaru did a fantastic job with the BRZ, they did all their engineering hw on this car and not just slap parts together. That is difference between a technician and an engineer.

A new MR2 would be nice, but remember what happened with the last one. Underpowered, impractical, and underwhelming.
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Old 07-18-2012, 01:51 PM   #14
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If the transaxle design gives 924, 944, 951, 968, and 928 better weight balance... why would it not ALSO give BRZ better weight balance?

It could perhaps allow an inch or two further rearward positioning of the engine, and it would balance the drivetrain's weight evenly, and more toward the traction wheels than it currently does.

The engineering thought that went into making the water-cooler porsches better balanced with a transaxle design is what MADE them special. Alfa GTV as well. Corvette uses it now, and Alfa also made the 8C that way, too.

There is no reason that the BRZ wouldn't benefit the same way from being a transaxle car. Center of gravity may be low, but that only addresses vertical height, not fore/aft distribution. And if it is close now... if it were a transaxle car, it might actually have gone rear-weight-biased, more like a mid-engined car, while still having the interior packaging of having the engine under the hood, rather than under the interior.

The last generation was underpowered, impractical, and underwhelming due to Toyota's choices. All they would have to do for a better MR2, would be to make better choices.

And I still think a 2wd converted Legacy GT 6MT, and an FA20 engine paired together would be a great drivetrain fabbed into an SW20 MR2, or installed in a FFR 818 kit car, in the mid-engined position.
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Old 07-18-2012, 02:07 PM   #15
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The Toyobaru was designed to be slightly front heavy, because Japan loves to drift.
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Old 07-18-2012, 02:16 PM   #16
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The only front engined Porsche that got the transaxle right was the 924GT/GTR/GTS. That used what we call the "snail" gearbox which put the gear stack in front of the rear axle. All of the other 924, 944, & 968 transaxles did not do that and had the gears behind the ring and pinion and too far backwards. Why? Because every one of those cars used an off the Getrag or ZF gearbox that was also used in another German vehicle. Porsche did make an engineering decision when they designed those chassis as rear transaction, but when it came to making a properly balanced racecar they designed an all new proprietary transaxle specifically for racing. There were not just engineers involved in the design and construction of the 944. There were also bean counters who pulled a gearbox out of the parts bin.

Having owned a 924S and now owning a BRZ, I can see the comparisons. They are fair to make. And I, like the author, would have loved to see Porsche/VW revive the 914, which is really how they would have done it. But they didn't. That's ok. One of my Cayman owning friends said it best when he said, "The BRZ is 90% of my Cayman at 50% of the price"...
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Old 07-18-2012, 02:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
If the transaxle design gives 924, 944, 951, 968, and 928 better weight balance... why would it not ALSO give BRZ better weight balance?

It could perhaps allow an inch or two further rearward positioning of the engine, and it would balance the drivetrain's weight evenly, and more toward the traction wheels than it currently does.

The engineering thought that went into making the water-cooler porsches better balanced with a transaxle design is what MADE them special. Alfa GTV as well. Corvette uses it now, and Alfa also made the 8C that way, too.

There is no reason that the BRZ wouldn't benefit the same way from being a transaxle car. Center of gravity may be low, but that only addresses vertical height, not fore/aft distribution. And if it is close now... if it were a transaxle car, it might actually have gone rear-weight-biased, more like a mid-engined car, while still having the interior packaging of having the engine under the hood, rather than under the interior.

The last generation was underpowered, impractical, and underwhelming due to Toyota's choices. All they would have to do for a better MR2, would be to make better choices.

And I still think a 2wd converted Legacy GT 6MT, and an FA20 engine paired together would be a great drivetrain fabbed into an SW20 MR2, or installed in a FFR 818 kit car, in the mid-engined position.
That was the design the engineers found optimal. The BRZ is a completely different car, with different engineers and different constraints.

Cost is much more of a factor than with Porsche. But I do like how Subaru designed the BRZ, Seems to be similar to how Porsche design their sports cars. That is, properly engineered in the design phase. It reduces costs.

If the car is well engineered in the beginning, it does not need expensive add-on to compensate. Hard for me to explain. Such as putting stiff suspension springs rates for flatter cornering, rather than studying/designing a better chassis.

It would be nice for a new MR2, but Toyota did make the choices and the choices are based on market. The market did not want a MR2 and therefore it is gone.
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Old 07-18-2012, 02:35 PM   #18
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All the BRZ needs is about 50-80HP to get me interested. Just through the WRX turbo on with only the weight needed to accomidate the IC plumming and they will get my money.
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:00 PM   #19
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that 50-80HP will cost another $5-$8k so a $37k BRZ? not for me.
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:36 PM   #20
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Assuming you dont have to get the premium package, the base price is 26K ish with destination. Add 5K you have a close to 300 hp car that is light and balanced for ~32K. I think that is marketable and I would prefer it to the only japanese competiters (370z, Genesis coupe and infiniti G37) for price and size.

Other competiitors are pretty different (Camaro, Mustang, Evo, STi).
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:48 PM   #21
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that 50-80HP will cost another $5-$8k so a $37k BRZ? not for me.
Why on earth would that be the case?

Comparing Forester to XT, Impreza to WRX, Legacy to Legacy GT, etc... you can get more power increases for less than a 5-8K jump.

And if it is a naturally aspirated H6, without the complication of a turbo H4... I doubt it would be such a big jump...

And an EZ32 or EZ34 (depending on if you use an EZ30 stroke length, or an FA20 86mm stroke length, with an EZ36's 92mm bore) with the same tricks as FA20 received, and perhaps the re-integration of AVLS, or Toyota's Valvematic... such an H6 could produce MORE than 100hp above the FA20.

Mustang V6, Camaro V6, Nissan VQ, Hyundai RS3800... all similarly configured NA 6-cylinder engines, all at approachable price points, all making more than 300hp, up to even ~350hp.
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:48 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmi View Post
All the BRZ needs is about 50-80HP to get me interested. Just through the WRX turbo on with only the weight needed to accomidate the IC plumming and they will get my money.
I suspect the people who say this have not driven a BRZ. I got in a "foot race" coming off a corner at the track behind a bugeye WRX that had a TBE, a tune and a little suspension work. It was a dead heat. He didn't pull an inch on my BRZ and I didn't make up anything.

If it was a 2.5l WRX it would have been a different outcome. But so many people overlook the fact that the BRZ is roughly 500lbs lighter than any WRX variant from the last 10 years.

I'm not saying the car wouldn't benefit from a bit more power. I'm just saying there are a lot of people saying it doesn't have enough power just from reading blogs and articles and web forum chatter.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:21 PM   #23
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I want to like this car. Looks good, Like the size. I just don't want to go back to a car I have to drive around power issues with. If it had more torque, I could live with a little less HP. Not asking for a lot more, 50-80 is about right. I might not even mod it for power at that power and wt.

Rumors are that there is a supercharged or turbo varient in the works. I will be buying a RWD car next summer or next. If there is a forced induction version of this car, it will be on the serious consideration list. Right now, I am not sure what to buy.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:30 PM   #24
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These cars had the same idea. Be a joy to drive. Make the driver "feel" he is good driver and going fast. At least the 944 was a hatch.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:57 PM   #25
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My problem with the brz, especially with current mark up, is that for about the same price you can get a v6 genesis coupe. 344hp > 200hp
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