The information provided here may be seen by some as total blasphemy, especially for 924S944.com folks. However, we strive to provide objective information for our readers. Agree or not, here is a comparison that to us makes some sense.
On April Fool’s Day, we posted a fake announcement that Porsche was bringing back the 944, and the response to that joke was off the scale. Stories are still circulating online with people reading that story, referred to us through online forums and social media – even today. It was by far our most popular story. Conclusion? People want a new 944.
Well, it may already be out there.
When Toyota/Scion/Subaru introduced the Toyota 86 in Europe in 2012 as a front engine, rear drive 2.0L sports coupe, we looked into it. My son bought a 2013 Scion FRS. But if you look really closely at this car and compare it to a 944, the comparison contains suspicious similarities.
To summarize, the dimensions are shockingly similar with the exception of the wheelbase. The Toyobaru wheelbase is six inches longer.
From the outside, the Toyobaru is four tenths of an inch taller. It is three inches shorter, and just under two inches wider. The 944 NA after 1988 is seventy pounds heavier, but the pre-1988 NA is actually over two hundred pounds lighter.
The engine in the 87-88 944S is 190HP, while the Toyobaru is 200. The 944S develops about 170 ft/lbs of torque while the Toyobaru shows about 150. Both the Toyobaru and the 944S accelerate to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. The 944 is famous for its almost 50/50 weight distribution numbers while the Toyobaru, with its transmission located just behind the engine, sports 53/47 numbers by virtue of placing the engine as far back as possible in the engine bay.
It goes even farther than that, though. Let’s check some other numbers. Front and rear track are within an inch of each other, and both models have similar drag coefficients. The 944 turns a little tighter, while the Toyobaru sits a full inch and a half closer to the ground – but we have a tendency to lower our cars a bit for better handling and closing that gap. The 944 wins on cargo space as the competition has a small trunk instead of a hatch. Even the interior dimensions, legroom, headroom and front seat dimensions are very similar.
Could this be a strange coincidence? Or did the engineers and designers at Toyota and Subaru look at one of the most successful sport coupes ever and “borrow” a few ideas?
Critics of the FRS/BRZ/86 have comments that we are all used to – underpowered with a need for wider tires and wheels. We all know this, too, and have made concessions. And the Toyobaru sport coupe has not gained the long-term sales numbers that Porsche enjoyed with the 944. While there was some excitement about the car when it was introduced in 2012, sales have not maintained the initial 12,000 units a year of the introduction. With the demise of the Scion brand and the reintroduction of the car as a Toyota 86 in the U.S., there has been more confusion in the market.
So what can we conclude? Both Toyota and Subaru build great cars with excellent reliability and build quality, so whatever variant you see, whether it is FR-S, BRZ or 86, it will be a good car with modern features. Enthusiasts will want wider tires, brake improvements and suspension upgrades – all affordable updates that can be done in the home garage. And with prices in the $12-14K range for good used examples, you could have your “modern 944” with updates for less than $20K. Add a supercharger to get the horses up in the 275 range for an additional $5K.
So if you love your 944, but it has its problems that prevent it from being a dependable daily driver for that commute to the big city, the Toyobaru may be a good idea. But keep the 944 for the weekends.
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.