Just like peas in a pod
THE arrival of twins in a family is a very special event. There are parents, a shared history and a joint future, and relatives and a home and celebrations.
In the car world, it’s different. There has never been such a thing as true twins. Usually it boils down to a single child with different sets of parents competing to claim the glory.
Remember the Ford Laser and the Mazda 323? Or the Telstar and 626?
In those cases, Mazda did all the hard work from conception to birth, while Ford rolled along for the ride. It was good news in Australia as the Ford factory at Homebush in Sydney cranked out thousands of Lasers for eager families between 1981 and 1994, but they were not much more than Mazdas with blue-oval badges.
During the badgeengineering days of the 1980s Holden snitched the Pulsar from Nissan, the Corolla and Camry from Toyota, and even the Swift from Suzuki.
Red lion badges and not much else turned them into the Astra, the Barina, the Nova and Apollo, but they were never real Holdens. Just as a Commodore called the Lexcen could never remotely be described as a real Toyota.
The shotgun marriage between Ford and Nissan was concocted – just like the terrible tie-up between Toyota and Holden – at head offices that were thousands of kilometres from the real-world reality. Did you know the Patrol was once called the Ford Maverick and the Falcon ute was sold as a Nissan in Australia?
Now we have the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ. They are true twins. Both sides claim parenthood, as you’d expect, but when you split the responsibilities it’s almost impossible to split the cars. The twins share a Subaru engine, chassis and suspension. Both cars are built at a Subaru factory. Subaru also drove fivestar safety into the cars.
But the twins would never have been built without Toyota’s cash and inspiration. The body shape is from Brand T, there is also a Lexus gearbox and hi-tech fuel injection.
Even the way the cars are sold in Australia – with the single BRZ model sitting between the 86 GT and GTS on price and equipment – could not have worked out better.
When you drive the 86 and BRZ you can see and feel a few tiny differences. The radios are obviously not the same. The BRZ rides a little sweeter and turns a little harder. Future deliveries of the 86 will bring owners a little more boot space but no spare tyre.
At Carsguide’s Car of the Year judging last week a team meeting of the nine judges sat down to thrash out the process and rule on The Twins – as they are dubbed – to make scoring easier and transparent.
Eventually it came down to this judgment from Carsguide editor Paul Pottinger, who should be looking for a job at the High Court in Canberra.
‘‘ They are the same cars. They are built on the same production line, they have the same mechanicals, they are variants of the same car,’’ Pottinger says. ‘‘ Both needed to be represented to prove they are the one car. One just happens to have a Subaru badge, one has a Toyota badge.’’
He is right and so is our COTY verdict.