Toyota 86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ: The Car Bible (ZN6/ZC6; 2013-2020)
The Toyobaru is one of the most popular modern enthusiast platforms.
Welcome to the Toyobaru (Toyota 86; Subaru BRZ; Scion FR-S) Car Bible. As you scroll down you’ll learn all about this vehicle’s qualities, features, finer points, and shortcomings. If you’re thinking about buying one of these, want some help maintaining or modifying one, or just want to deepen your knowledge for the next round of car trivia, you’ve come to the right place.
This is a living document that’s updated as we learn (and confirm) new valuable info. Got something to add? Drop a comment or send us an email! Don’t be shy; the more dialogue we have the better this Car Bible will get.
–Andrew P. Collins, Car Bibles Editor-In-Chief
(Disclaimers; Disclosures: Some Car Bibles will have links to specific forums, groups, brands, shops, or vendors for parts shopping and such. We have no sponsorship deals or official affiliation with any of them unless explicitly stated. We also have to explicitly state that you should work on your own car and follow our advice at your own risk.)
There’s a lot of info packed into this Bible. If you’re looking for something specific, hit command/control-F, type one of these terms, and your browser should bring you straight in.
- The Short Story
- Fast Facts
- Spotter’s Guide
- Check This Car Out If…
- Important Trim Levels and Options
- Year-To-Year Changes
- Obscure Details
- General Reliability and Ownership Costs
- Red Flags and Known Issues
- Where To Buy Parts
- Aftermarket Support
- Popular Modifications
- Key Technical Details
- Fluids, Filters, and Capacities
- Factory Service Manuals
- Other References and Resources
- Professional Reviews
- Owner Reviews
- What They’re Worth Now
- Where To Find One For Sale
- What To Ask A Seller
- Competitors To Consider
- Photo Galleries
- Pop Culture References
- Enthusiast Inquiries
- Downloadable Paperback Car Bible
- Comments Disclaimer
The Short Story
The Toyota 86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ, or all together known as the Toyobaru, is a rear-wheel drive 2+2 sports car that was introduced to give an inexpensive RWD option to the masses. With a very low center of gravity thanks to its flat-four, 2.0-liter 4U-GSE/FA20 engine and clever engineering, it’s a hot-handling monster right out of the box.
Elsewhere around the world this car is known as the Toyota GT86 and FT86. The 86 nomenclature is important to Toyota’s heritage; the beloved-by-enthusiasts AE86 Corolla from the ’80s is a legendary RWD tuner platform. Its popularity permeated, and still permeates, throughout track and drifting scenes around the world.
Combined with a sprightly, 200-or-so horsepower, low curb weight, MacPherson front and independent rear suspension, a standard six-speed manual, and a factory limited-slip differential the Toyobaru has all the right ingredients for spirited-driving fun, especially on track.
This car is affectionately referred to by enthusiasts as a Toyobaru because it’s a joint venture between Toyota and Subaru, though built in Subaru’s factory. The factory is in Gunma, Japan – made famous by the popular anime series Initial D!
It was briefly badged as the Scion FR-S in North America due to Scion being Toyota USA’s “youthful” brand. Though, when Toyota nixed the brand, it came over to Toyota as the 86 (pronounced “eight-six”).
Its low-mounted, flat-four boxer engine allows for a low hoodline, which improves front visibility.
The 86 designation goes pretty darn far: the boxer engine’s bore and stroke is 86mm x 86mm, even the exhaust tips’ diameter is 86mm.
It’s a staple of time attack, club racing, and pro racing across the USA… and entire planet.
It was designed with the intention of being able to haul a second set of wheels and tools to the track without issue, thanks to its rather large trunk and seats that fold down.
Immediately discernible on the Toyobaru is its classic sports car shape. Two doors, front seats that sit further back than usual, and more. They also have sporty accents that let passers by know they’re, well, sporty, including sharp fog light bezels, pronounced wheel arches, and aggressive front bumpers and headlights.
Like its competitors the NC and ND Miata, these are mass-produced sports cars. Well, as mass-produced as sports cars get.
They’re a fixture at car shows and race tracks, and their numbers are stacked on the used market, as well as new on dealership lots (as of this writing, we’re on the cusp of the new, second gen BRZ and 86 coming out).
A new Toyobaru is debuting in 2022, which from what we gather, is going to be an upgrade in every regard. Some don’t like the new looks, but whatever, subjective stuff.
Check This Car Out If…
You’re in the market for a fun, practical, rear-wheel drive sports car with good handling characteristics, a healthy aftermarket, easy to find with a manual gearbox, and good fuel economy to top it all off.
Beware, opinions vary quite a bit as to whether they’re “slow.” If you’re coming from an economy car, they’re nice n’ quick! If you’re coming from something turbocharged with a lot of torque, they might indeed feel a little slow. We think they’re quick, especially when wrung out on a track.
Important Trim Levels and Options
Throughout Toyobaru’s lifespan, Toyota and Subaru have introduced several special and limited editions, particularly Subaru with their BRZ variant. These are produced in limited numbers, have special badging, possess all the convenience and tech equipment of a high-trim package (heated seats, full infotainment, nicer interior materials, etc), as well as often have nicer-looking wheels, SACHS performance dampers, and upgraded Brembo brakes.
In 2014, Scion released 2000 examples of the FR-S “Monogram Series.” It had extra aesthetic stuff tacked on, and all the features found on higher trims. It’s actually all higher price-point stuff that was more commonplace on the BRZ, such as HID headlights, heated leather and Alcantara seats; heated side mirrors, dual-zone climate control, and an upgraded infotainment system.
The BRZ’s special editions have been the Series.Yellow, Series.Blue, Series.HyperBlue, Series.Yellow… Each one highlights their respective colors with interesting trim pieces and badging, different colors on their steering wheels.
Toyota did similar stuff to their 86 variant, though with TRD and GT badging instead. The tweaks are generally the same, plus some cool body kit elements on the TRD, albeit without the weird emphasis on different colors like Subaru did.
Beginning in 2017, Subaru introduced the BRZ tS, a more hardcore, track-oriented trim. The tS indicates “tuned by STI,” Subaru’s performance arm. The tweaks are mostly chassis-related, but also featured a bigger rear spoiler, aggressive exterior accents, sticky tires, and bigger brakes. No power-increasing modifications were done; this is a suspension enthusiast’s dream instead.
What’s pretty cool, is throughout the FR-S/BRZ/86’s lifespan they’ve had optional factory-installed performance add-ons, such as performance sway bars, brake pads, high-flow air filters, lowering springs, and exhaust systems. Larger and more stylish looking wheels have also been a commonplace on the brands’ online model configurators.
Outside of special editions, the BRZ had an entire package that could be optioned onto any trim. It was dubbed the Performance Package, and came with better SACHS dampers, more performance-looking 10-spoke wheels, and Brembo performance brakes.
In general, besides the aforementioned special editions, not much changed a whole lot. However, there was one major alteration to the Toyobaru lineup…
2017 marked the great change-up from”Scion FR-S” to “Toyota 86!”
Also in 2017 came the major, mid-cycle refresh. 86 and BRZ’s final drive ratio went from 4.1 to 4.3, improving overall acceleration, as well as a modest 5 HP bump for manual transmission-equipped models. Subaru also improved the engines by revising the camshafts, cylinder heads, and blocks, making them more stout.
On the inside, tech and materials quality was updated, as well as a new, more up-to-date gauge cluster, and re-programmed traction control settings. They now came with a “Track Mode” which loosened up traction and stability control a tad to allow the driver to be more in-control, and have a little more tail-happy fun.
Plus, some minor styling bits were changed to tie it all together. They also started painting all the intake manifolds crinkle red! Fancy!
There isn’t anything too obscure about the Toyobaru as far as things for non-enthusiasts or future hardcore Toyobaru enthusiasts to look out for. We’ve outlined some of red flags down below, but generally they don’t have any particularly odd maintenance requirements. Just be sure to keep oil and coolant temperatures in check if you intend to drive one on track!
General Reliability and Ownership Costs
In general, the Toyobaru is inexpensive to maintain. Like any vehicle, certain aspects should be inspected and replaced more often if they’re being driven on track, but otherwise owners are blessed with high-quality, OEM, and inexpensive parts.
We say blessed, because it’s a different story for BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen owners.
These cars will get great gas mileage if driven easy, despite having a very high, factory 12.5:1 compression ratio and sporty gearing in their transmissions. Well, great compared to other rear-wheel drive enthusiast platforms. Premium gas is required, but luckily they see around 21-24 mpg city and 28-30 mpg highway.
Red Flags and Known Issues
These cars have a few known reliability issues. Some seem to be completely random, others are known and common, though mostly on 2013 and 2014 models. Luckily, a lot of these can be remedied by either warranty work or upgraded parts sold in the aftermarket. Otherwise, they’re pretty stout cars.
- A valve spring recall on early FR-Ss and BRZs, and according to our friends over at The Drive, the fix caused more harm than good at first.
- Owners reported faulty direct-injector seals on early 2013 models
- High-pressure fuel pumps are an issue on 2013 and 2014 models
- Condensation can collect in tail lights, causing the bulbs to burn out
- Clutch fork and throw-out bearing issues, particularly on earlier models
- Early models have been known to roast coil packs during spirited driving, especially on track. Owners had the option of having the wiring harness replaced under warranty which remedied this
- Engine cooling issues from sustained spirited street, drift, and track driving
Luckily, the aftermarket and enthusiast community is absolutely massive, and enthusiasts have cobbled together this forum post of all known issues!
It’s widely regarded that 2015 models are more reliable than 2013 and 2014s, as the weird reliability foibles were mostly solved by then.
Early Subaru BRZs and Scion FR-S’ had a couple of recalls, notably:
- Engine valve spring failure
- Key may be removed while automatic-transmission models are in park, allowing them to roll
- Inaccurate load rating on the tires -this one is probably less of a concern now due to tires almost-certainly being replaced since then. Check the tires’ date code and load rating before purchasing; a visit to the dealer might be in order
Where To Buy Parts
Due to parts being Toyota and Subaru, parts are readily available through all conventional channels, either direct from dealership parts departments or from O’Reilly’s, AutoZone, etc., as well online retailers like RockAuto.com.
Luckily, the Toyobaru enjoys one of the largest aftermarkets ever, and therefore there are what seems like infinite channels to procure aftermarket parts from. Popular sites like Counterspace Garage, FTSpeed, and FTMotorsports are great places to start.
Modifications or brakes, suspension, wheels, bodykits, engine tuning, forced induction; everything under the sun is available for this chassis!
Like other handling chassis, such as the Mazda RX-8, one of the best kinds of modifications is playing to its strengths by improving its suspension. They handle great from the factory, but even something as mild as upgraded springs, or a front sway bar, make them even better.
Otherwise, some minor engine tuning wakes them up and remedies some slight downsides from the factory. Well, they’re considered downsides depending on who you ask; the Toyobaru’s 2.0-liter boxer engine experiences a mid-range torque dip during acceleration. Tuning and aftermarket exhaust headers cures this.
These cars run a tad hot. For those who drive these cars on the track, upgraded cooling such as an aftermarket oil cooler and potentially even a radiator is a must-have; Jackson Racing makes a unit that’s popular among enthusiasts.
Speaking of Jackson Racing, they make an aftermarket supercharger kit that adds a substantial amount of power. Other brands that do as well are Edelbrock, Vortech, and HKS.
Key Technical Details
Engine: 2.0-liter flat-four boxer engine, naturally aspirated
Transmission: Six-speed manual, six-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Drivetrain: rear-wheel drive
Suspension: MacPherson front suspension, independent multi-link rear. Dan Edmunds went really in-depth about its chassis in an article.
Weight distribution: 55 percent front, 45 percent rear
Wheelbase: 101.2 in; 2,570 mm
Overall length: 166.9 in; 2,570 mm
Curb weight: 2,624–2,862 pounds (1,190–1,298 kg)
OEM tire sizes:
- BRZ Limited, Premium, Performance Package: 215/45/17
- BRZ tS: 215/40/18
- FR-S, all trims: 215/45/17
- 86: 215/45/17
- 86 TRD: 215/40/18
Fluids, Filters, and Capacities:
The nice thing about these is they’re essentially mirrored between the FR-S, 86, and BRZ; one can buy parts for their BRZ at a Toyota dealership, and vice versa. However, the part numbers do not match up, so always ensure you’ve indeed got the correct part.
Fuel: 91 Octane
Battery Size: Manual transmission-equipped: 390CCA, Automatic transmission-equipped: 500CCA. Some enthusiasts note that the Optima Optima Yellow Top Dual-Purpose Group 75/25, 620 CCA is a great alternative regardless of transmission
Engine Oil: 5 quarts of 0W-20, any quality synthetic oil is recommended, changed every 5,000 miles
Oil Filter: OEM Toyota 90915YZZS1, change with oil
Air Filter: OEM Toyota 178010D020, replace every 30,000 miles
Cabin Air Filter: OEM Toyota 8856837020, replace every 15,000 miles
Manual Transmission Oil: 2.2 liters, and enthusiasts really like Motul Gear 300 75W-90. Replace every 30,000 miles or 24 months. Rule of thumb: fill until it drips from the fill hole. The drain and fill gaskets must each be replaced, and they’re the same part number: Toyota Part Number SU00303626
Automatic Transmission Fluid: 7 quarts of OEM Subaru ATF HP/PS Fluid SOA427V1500. Enthusiasts also like Redline D6 ATF. Replace every 60,000 miles
Transmission Filter: OEM Subaru 30098AA280 (replace every 60,000 miles with fluid)
Differential Oil: 1.2 liters of Motul Gear 300 75W-90. Replace every 60,000 miles or 48 months. Rule of thumb: fill until it drips from the fill hole. The fill and drain plug gaskets must be replaced, Toyota Part Numbers SU00300122 and TOY1215710010
Coolant: OEM Subaru Super Coolant K0670Y0001, 7.6 quarts for manual transmission models, 7.9 quarts for automatic transmission models. Replace every 75,000 miles or 72 months
Power Steering Fluid: Not applicable
Brake Fluid: 2 x 500ml bottles of Motul RBF 600, replaced every 30,000 miles. If the car is tracked or autocrossed, every 15,000 miles
Clutch Fluid: Same as brake fluid
Spark Plugs: OEM Subaru 22401AA801 X 4, replaced every 60,000 miles
Factory Service Manuals
Since these are popular enthusiast chassis, factory service manuals are a quick Google search away; finding the 2013 factory manual was a breeze!
Other References and Resources
We’ll add links to more critical resources as we find them!
The Toyobaru is a journalist favorite for sure thanks to its excellent handling, affordable price, and general joy to drive.
Mark Vaughn at Car and Driver had some some very positive things to say about a 2015 BRZ Series.Blue:
“Ah BRZ, how do we love thee? We love thee so much we apparently can’t stop writing about thee, or thou, or whoever. Thou art the answer to our prayers and our whines of so many years when there was nothing like you available in the U.S. market. Thou art cheap and fun and even (though less than we’d hoped), practical.
Yes, the Subaru BRZ has now been on the market here in the United States two years. We have driven them on racetracks, on superhighways and on the Isle of Man in the pouring rain. We even had one in our long-term fleet in Detroit for an entire year. And let’s not forget all the time spent in the car’s identical twin the Scion FR-S. It is the car we’d all been waiting for and we are still a little giddy that it even exists.”
Scott Evans at Motor Trend had similar things to say about the 2019 86 TRD:
“With stickier tires, the 86 TRD simply grips and goes. In low-speed corners, you can pretty much wood it as soon as you clip the apex, and the car will put every last pony and pound-foot to the ground. In high-speed corners, it’s chef’s choice whether you lift at all, and if you do need to use the brake, you really just wave at it. With all that stick, you can carry a ton of speed without losing the line. Although understeer is always easy to induce with ham-fisted driving, no amount of prodding would provoke more than a few degrees of rotation from the rear end. No, it’s not silly fun like the standard car, but it’s faster and it forces you to drive like a professional and not a hooligan. Getting braking points, turn-in, and cornering lines perfect takes practice, and this car will get you there. Once you get there, though, you can’t help feeling that no matter how much you like the car the way it is, it could use lots more power for the straights.”
Vittorio Santiago has owned two modified Toyobarus since 2015:
“The FR-S/86/BRZ was announced back when I was in high school, I simply fell for how it looked. Two years into college, I was working an entry-level job at the university, so I made some bad decisions and went for it. I test drove it and never looked back.
My first was a 2015 FR-S. I drove it to and from school, tracked it a lot, supercharged it, and accumulated 115,000 miles. After that, I traded it in for a 2019 TRD 86 (though I’ll always refer to it as a FR-S). I love the feel of the 86. It’s sharp yet stable, and roomy enough to drive friends and groceries around. But most importantly, it’s a capable track car that’s fun without many modifications. It really is a driver’s car, made to improve driving skill and confidence.”
Check out his Instagram for more of his experiences with his 86.
Luciano Coloma has owned a 2013 BRZ since new, and its current iteration is heavily-prepped for track work:
“Owning the BRZ has been a great introduction to RWD car control. It’s an impressively well-balanced car that gives amazing feedback while driving it at it’s limits. The chassis is hard to beat at its price, too. The power plant is nothing special.”
His Instagram features more insight on his track hijinks.
What They’re Worth Now
These figures seem to vary quite a bit depending on where they are in the country, and obviously if they’re sold private party on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or sold new or used off a dealer lot.
The prime example: Since these are still sold new from dealer lots (for the most part, as of 3/21), they can go for as much as $32,000 for a BRZ tS or 86 GT. Otherwise, low-mileage examples that are <2 years old fetch $22,000-$26,000.
A very clean driver: An example that’s clean, mid-mileage (let’s say less than 60,000 miles), and 2017 or newer seems to hover right around $18,000-$22,000.
An honest car: Let’s say this is 2014 or newer, with anywhere from 50,000 – 90,000 miles. It might have some paint chips, aftermarket wheels, etc., but it’s in good shape otherwise. These seem to fetch $14,000 – $18,000.
The budget option: Any year car that’s in decent shape, 90,000+ miles, and has some semblance of service history seems to go for $11,000 – $15,000. It seems like there are decent salvage title examples out there, so beware, ask questions, and have it looked over by a shop.
A roach: Salvage title, rough body, high mileage, a ratty interior, 2013/2014 model year, etc. These can be great projects, track-only sleds, drift builds, etc., and go for as little as $7,000.
Where To Find One For Sale
All conventional sources have plenty of them: Autotempest.com, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc. Since it’s an enthusiast chassis, it’s worth poking around forums and Facebook groups; you might find one that has some mileage and has seen the track, but more importantly has been well taken care of.
What To Ask A Seller
Has all warranty and recall work been done?
Has the engine been replaced (pre-2016 models)?
Has the car been tracked or drifted?
What kind of oil do you use?
What’s the mileage on the clutch?
Have the clutch fork and throw-out bearing been replaced?
Has the wiring harness been replaced?
Have any coil packs been replaced?
Competitors To Consider
Pop Culture References
We haven’t found any celebrities who’ve owned Toyobarus just yet (Know any? Comment below!) but Jay Leno featured an FR-S when it debuted back in 2013, however we’re not sure if he’s added one to his own collection.
However, it has been raced by a bunch of celebrities!
The Toyobaru hasn’t really made a significant appearance in mainstream pop culture. Sure, automotive media has what seems like unlimited content about it, but that’s about it. However, one place where it is prominent is in Initial D: Legend 3 (2016), which is a nice homage to the original 86 in the original Initial D series.
We learned from the aptly named Twitter account “enthusiast cars in anime backgrounds” (@anime_no_kuruma) that there’s a brief 86 appearance in Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai) S1E06 and Seishun Buta Yarou wa Yumemiru Shoujo no Yume wo Minai (Rascal Does Not Dream of Dreaming Girl). Here’s a screenshot:
Every car has a collection of common questions that pop up in forums and Facebook groups whenever new blood joins in. We hope a lot of those have been answered above, but if we start to see more specific questions pop up on the regular, we’ll include them in this section.
Downloadable Paperback Car Bible (Coming Soon)
If you’re old school and like to keep reference notes on paper, or you’re just a completionist and want a free accessory for your Toyobaru we’ll have a printable paperback Car Bible for you soon.
Think of it like an owner’s manual supplement. Keep it in your car and your days of waiting for slow internet on your phone at the auto parts store are over!
You’ve reached the end of the Scion FR-S/Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ Car Bible and are about to scroll into the comment section. If any questions were left unanswered in the text above, try posing it in the space below! Unsolicited Toyobaru tips are also welcome.