LIKE A BLAST FROM THE PAST
The Subaru BRZ brings back memories of a sports car from decades ago. It’s got the simple, straightforward approach to driving fun of the old Datsun 240Z—small engine, standard manual gearbox and great handling. And you can add to that styling, which is low-slung and sleek.
The BRZ looks much the same as it did when it was first introduced in 2013, however, Subaru has given it a light refresh this year. New LED headlamps and taillights, a revamped front bumper and sportier alloy wheels are subtle, but welcome improvements. Additionally, the rear spoiler which was an option on the base model, is now standard.
The cabin is businesslike, without looking Spartan. Highly bolstered front seats hold you snugly in place while you are carving up twisty roads. A tachometer sits squarely in the center of the instrument panel to remind you to keep the revs up, and a standard manual gearbox engages you in the driving process. A touchscreen display in the center control panel provides a modern touch, and red stitching (or yellow) on the seats, dash and doors adds a bit of pizzaz.
Unlike some sports cars, like the Mazda Miata, the BRZ’s front seats will accommodate six-footers with ease. However, the bolsters on the seats may be too confining for those who are broad of beam. The seats in the rear are virtually useless for carrying people, but the seatback folds down to make additional storage space. The trunk size is not bad for a sports car at 6.9 cu-ft.
Subaru offers the BRZ in three trim levels, Premium, Limited and Series, Yellow. The Premium comes with an eight-speaker audio system, satellite radio, cloth upholstery, a review camera and manual transmission. The Limited adds automatic air conditioning, push-button ignition and heated seats with leather inserts. An automatic transmission is optional, as is the Performance package, which provides bigger brakes, a stiffer suspension and wider alloy wheels, but it’s only available with the manual transmission. The Series, Yellow comes, of course, with yellow paint and trim, as well as brake and suspension upgrades.
Under the hood, Suburu propels the BRZ with its tried-and-true 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, boxer engine that generates 205-hp and is teamed with a six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic transmission is optional on the Limited. Gas mileage comes in at a respectable 24-mpg with the manual, and 25-mpg with the automatic. In classic sports car tradition, the powertrain drives the rear wheels. The engine is high- revving, but is not particularly strong launching the car. Yet, once underway, it performs well if you keep the revs up. The manual shifter has short throws, and is a breeze to use. However, the automatic is not a bad choice either, with paddle shifters on the steering wheel to enhance the driving experience.
However, handling is the strong suit of the BRZ. This is a car that loves back roads. The steering is quick and communicative. You can change direction in a blink of an eye, and the steering wheel keeps you informed of what’s going on. A limited-slip differential contributes with sure-footed traction on turns, and large Brembo brakes get you stopped from speed in a hurry.
The ride quality is reminiscent of sports cars of the past—bumpy. The BRZ will bounce you around on secondary roads, but is smooth enough on the freeway. And being a coupe, rather than a roadster, the noise level in the cabin is sufficiently restrained so that you can carry on a conversation with a passenger, or listen to music without difficulty.
The Subaru BRZ is one of the few attainable sports cars on the market these days, The Premium model sells for a reasonable $26,315. The Limited goes for $28,645, and the Series, Yellow retails for $30,515.