When it comes to lightweight and affordable rear-drive sports cars that you can buy new in the United States, the list is indeed a short one. In fact the only cars that come to mind for us are the new Scion FR-S (and its fraternal twin, the Subaru BRZ) and the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Yes, we know we’re glossing over cars like the V-6 Ford Mustang and the V-6 Chevy Camaro, both of which can be had for the same price as a Scion FR-S if you go light on the options. While both are rear-drive, neither is lightweight and neither is what we’d call nimble. To put it another way, there’s a reason why linebackers don’t dance ballet.
We’re also excluding the Nissan 370Z, which is probably the next rung up the rear-drive sports car ladder from the Scion FR-S. At 3,245 pounds, it’s lighter than either the Mustang or the Camaro, but still over 400 pounds heavier than the FR-S. For a sports car, that additional ballast is a huge limiting factor.
Then there’s pricing to consider. In the United States, the Scion FR-S lists for just under $25,000 (ignoring, for the moment, rampant dealer price gouging), while the cheapest 370Z you can buy stickers at nearly $34,000. In our book, that $9,000 spread puts the Nissan into an entirely different category of affordability, and that’s before you shop for car insurance.
Chris Harris sees things differently, and compares the Scion FR-S to the Nissan 370Z as a direct rival in his latest video. He also throws the Porsche Cayman S into the mix (in used form), since it’s priced on par to the others (though, in reality, used Cayman S models sell between $35k and $40k here, the price of a well-equipped 370Z).
Which car wins the three-way shootout? We won’t spoil the video, but we’ll say that we agree with the esteemed Mr. Harris’ findings on all counts.