2013 Subaru BRZ Sport-Tech Review
Highs and lows
- Beautifully designed exterior.
- Ideal weekend track car.
- Not really a 4-seater.
- Not a Subaru meant for winter.
Track-bred love child
For four years, us auto journo types have been chomping at the bit to get behind the wheel of the Subayota creation. When they first announced the RWD love child, those faithful to Subaru were up in arms over a non-AWD Subie in the stable... until concept drawings were seen. Beauty can overcome many things and a fealty to all-wheel drive is, apparently, one such thing.
I, for one, was one of those on-the-fencers. As a long-time Subaru driver, I couldn't imagine a six-star-sporting vehicle without the asymmetrical system holding me to the road in any and all conditions. However, after a week behind the wheel of the Subaru BRZ (and, coincidentally its doppelganger the Scion FR-S) I'm now a BRZ groupie.
It's a looker
Even if you never drive the BRZ, you'll agree that it is one of the better looking cars on the road today (and you can thank Toyota for that part). With slender lines, front to back, some might say the BRZ is a feminine-looking car -- but not in a girlie, weak kind of way. Sleek, blacked-out headlights atop a gaping black grille perfectly off-set the linear LED daytime running lights on either side.
Raised haunches over the front 17" wheels bring to mind certain luxury sport models as the hood line follows the wheel-well bulges. Nestled between the aggressive eyes of the BRZ are Subaru's six stars, with ever-so-subtle indentations raked up the hood from the logo's edges, a line that continues on the roof (bringing to mind a track-inspired roof with room for helmets within).
Take a moment to step round to the back of the 2013 Subaru BRZ and you'll surely want to take more than a few moments to drink it all in. It's interesting that even though we had the Scion FR-S parked right next to the BRZ for most of the week, the BRZ continually won out in the look department, and a large part of that win is thanks to the sporty deck spoiler.
Taillights glare from beneath said spoiler, and the unique placement and design of the back-up lights caused some debate on whether it was a bit too much or just the right touch for the BRZ's rear.
There's no denying that the BRZ is a true sports car. Even if you didn't know it was RWD, you'd know it was meant for some sort of track driving just by looking at it -- and I love that about the design. Some cars sport an ambiguous shape, while others are immediately recognizable for what they are. The 2013 Subaru BRZ falls into the latter category.
A snug fit
Inside the 2013 Subaru BRZ and things start to get a little less "pretty." While I loved the sporty seats and felt well-placed when driving on the track and on the street, certain elements of the cockpit were a bit... obnoxious.
But let's start with the good. Red stitching on black leather and faux suede: Good. Sporty steering wheel and shift knob: Good. Push-start: Good. Toggle switches for climate control: Very good. (Loved the look of it.) Possibility for rear passengers (but only if you don't like them very much): Fairly good.
While my colleague, Matt, commends Subaru for making a car that's hard to get in and out of ("It gives it character" says he), I was not so amused. Even my vertically challenged self struggled with the seat height and I'm not sure I'd want to spend more than a week getting in and out of the BRZ.
Now, take a closer look at the Pioneer touchscreen entertainment and nav system and you'll surely want to run from the car screaming in frustration. Unless you have the fingers of a 4-year-old, there is no way you're going to be able to use the teeny-tiny volume knob properly. And I dare you to try changing the station on the touchscreen that requires such precision you'll likely run the car off the road before you successfully switch when Gotye plays for the 5 millionth time.
Then again, you shouldn't really be bothered with the radio when you're behind the wheel of the 2013 Subaru BRZ.
Sitting beneath that curvacious hood is a horizontally opposed 2.0L 4-cylinder BOXER engine that pushes out 200 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, all through the rear wheels. Coupled with a short-throw 6-speed manual transmission and riding atop McPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension, piloting the Subaru BRZ is fun, plain and simple.
I'll admit, I had a bit of difficulty with the BRZ's gears at first. On the track, I found the gates to be difficult and found myself mishifting more than once. I thought this was a track issue (anxiety and nerves taking over), but when I found myself doing the same thing on quiet, country roads I took notice.
Despite the sometimes rocky ride, I enjoyed the BRZ's throttle response and responsiveness in general. The car was so precise sometimes I had to rethink my driving lines (especially on the track). A touch of the steering wheel and the car was pointed in the desired direction -- fantastic.
Daily driver with a split personality
Here's where the conundrum lays with the 2013 Subaru BRZ. While I was behind the wheel I couldn't help but think; had this car come out about seven years ago, when I bought my first Impreza, I might have made a different decision. Childless, in my early 20s and with a penchant for wanting to drive quickly, the Subaru BRZ would have been the ideal choice. And at a starting price of $27,295 it wouldn't have been an unreasonable purchase (and only $3,000 more than I paid for my base Impreza at the time).