2016 Subaru BRZ Series.HyperBlue Quick Spin
Rekindling The Flame
Power200 HP / 151 LB-FT
Curb Weight2,764 LBS
MPG22 City / 30 HWY
As Tested Price$28,485
Best Deal Price$24,681
HyperBlue aside, it's the same BRZ it's always been. Yes, Subaru's updated Starlink infotainment system is now available, and there's a frameless rearview mirror inside the cabin. That's about it in terms of 2016 model year updates. But it's still worth revisiting.
I've driven the BRZ at home in Detroit, and it's lovely. It's got a great chassis, it uses rear-wheel drive, and it's powerful enough to have lots of fun at legal speeds. (Seriously, why does everyone keep complaining about "only" 200 horsepower? That's plenty for this lightweight.) But until now, I've never had the chance to experience this coupe on a truly great road. So during a recent trip to southern California, I took a jaunt out to Angeles Crest Highway for a day of HyperBlue antics. On the right road, this car is even more charming than I remember.
- I think the reason why some people complain about a supposed lack of power is because they aren't driving it correctly. Peak horsepower arrives at 7,000 rpm, and the full 151 pound-feet of torque is delivered at 6,400 rpm. So for spirited driving, don't even bother revving below 3,500 rpm. No, it's not the best sounding engine (what naturally aspirated flat-four is?), but don't let the noise fool you. Keep the 2.0-liter boxer on boil, and you'll find salvation in this 200-hp mill.
- To me, the BRZ's steering feel is second only to the Mazda Miata. The car's lightness is accurately communicated through the wheel, but it's direct, nicely weighted, and never void of feedback.
- Combined with a firm, balanced chassis, you get a great sense of what all four wheels are doing at any given time. Grip level and weight distribution is easy to sense while cornering, making it easier to push the car harder and harder. The tail steps out a smidge, and you know exactly how much corrective input to give. I love a car that works so seamlessly with the driver.
- With every turn on Angeles Crest, the BRZ feels better and better. The car's balance shines through. Even on uphill climbs, if I keep the engine revving, the Subaru charges up and powers out of turns with poise. Never in my experiences has the BRZ felt so good.
- My one gripe about the car's handling has nothing to do with the chassis or steering – it's the tires. The BRZ rolls on Michelin Primacy HP summer tires, which sounds fine, but they're 215-section rubbers – 215/45R17, to be exact, which is the same as the optional, upgraded tire package on a 2015 Toyota Prius. Basically, the Subie's tires will give up way before the suspension will. They're still generally fine most of the time – no doubt better for daily driving – but now I totally understand why the majority of people who seriously drive their BRZs fit new wheels and tires almost immediately.
- That's not enough of a sour spot to make me give the BRZ a bad grade, of course. Besides, like I said, the strong levels of driver communication mean any rear-end silliness is super easy (and fun!) to correct.
- Speaking of strong communication, this six-speed manual transmission is one of the best in the business. Clutch travel is short, engagement is solid, and you click through the short-throw gearbox with precision. Any company looking to improve its manual gearboxes really ought to talk to the folks who did the BRZ.
- I love the driving position. You don't sit super low in the car, giving you a view of the hood all the way up to the crest of the wheel arches, and the seats are supportive enough to be sporty, but comfortable enough that your butt and back won't hate you after a few hours of driving. The rear seats are pretty much useless for anything other than backpacks and grocery bags, of course.
- The improved Starlink infotainment system is a nice touch, but it's not super intuitive or easy to use in this interface. I have a better relationship with this system in Subaru's other cars – the shared Toyota/Scion headunit causes problems here. Also, I'm all for simplicity, but I didn't know how much I missed redundant steering wheel controls until they were gone. Not a gripe, really; just an observation.
Going HyperBlue will set you back $28,485, including $795 for destination. Our long-term GTI costs less, a similarly priced Miata offers a little more in the way of features (and, of course, you can put the top down), and let's not forget about that four-door, all-wheel-drive, turbocharged WRX sitting in the same dealership.
But at this price point, there aren't many cars that drive as well as the BRZ, even if it's not the best value. For purists who appreciate lightness mixed with rear-wheel drive, the Subaru BRZ should certainly pique your interest, attention-grabbing HyperBlue paint or not.
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