2013 Subaru BRZ
MSRP
$25,495 - $27,495
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2013 Subaru BRZ Expert Review:Autoblog

Subaru Gives Us Their Sports Car On Real Roads. Does It Deliver?



Last December, our wandering man of intrigue Jonathan Ramsey drove a Subaru BRZ prototype at Japan's Tochigi circuit under somewhat controlled conditions and was nonetheless very impressed. Then, in that same month, SoCal lad Michael Harley – he who knows a thing or two about hot-footing it on closed circuits – took the practically identical Scion FR-S for many unfettered laps on the island's short and sweet Sodegaura Forest Raceway. He, too, was left extremely enthused by the experience.

My turn now. We needed a real road test of the Subaru BRZ just to see if this car really does merit the "zenith" part of its name represented by its final letter. Can the stellar handling and light weight we've already raved about translate into something you could happily drive every day?

The roads on which Subaru sent me with their new star pupil could not be more appropriate: the ominous Route Napoleon in southern France. This is perfect, because the number of new car drives following the Geneva Motor Show has been mind numbing, and I frankly needed a spectacular car-and-road pairing to recharge my enthusiasm. I can think of no better combo for this than a promising sports car and this insanely technical French two-lane. I am here to find out if, in the real sporting car world, 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque are enough to keep the fire burning in me. {C}{C}
2013 Subaru BRZ side view2013 Subaru BRZ front view2013 Subaru BRZ rear view

If I'm being flat-out honest, only the Subaru WRX STI and 2.5 RS before it have ever inspired me much when it comes to Fuji Heavy Industries' body of work. Everything else they have done until now has always been appreciated, even the Brat and the Baja in their own particular weird ways. But for me, they have all, to a greater or lesser degree, felt like cars built by robot people for robot people. I enjoy it when the vehicle wrapped around me shows signs of body heat, of cardiac and pelvic passions, of risks to be taken. I love what the Japanese do for our industry, but the Europeans and Americans have generally cornered the market on flagrant driving machismo.

The Europeans and Americans have generally cornered the market on flagrant driving machismo.

Approaching the first long drive of the Subaru BRZ, all of this is going through my head, together with the preceding opinions from Messrs. Ramsey and Harley, plus a chorus of other career opinioneers. Will the power/torque numbers be enough? Will the 215-width Michelin summer tires feel like too small a footprint for consistent hookup through and out of the hundreds of incredible curves that await me? Is the handling of the BRZ indeed spectacular but the lower revs exhaust voice too plain? Do I even care about trying the six-speed Aisin automatic transmission with paddles and Sport mode?

For the entire day, as it turned out, my drive partner and I greedily protected our silver Subaru BRZ Limited with six-speed manual, also by Aisin. We did this because after just ten or so miles of driving, we both realized that this BRZ with its short-throw shifter was destined to be even more of a great car moment in our lives than we had anticipated.

2013 Subaru BRZ interior2013 Subaru BRZ front seats2013 Subaru BRZ gauges2013 Subaru BRZ shifter

Talk to any driving enthusiast who's been lucky enough to have spent a day on the Route Napoleon and they'll go on breathlessly about the road. But they will also frequently state that they "just wish" they'd had this or that other car rather than the one they actually had. Well, we hauled Gunma butt for roughly 200 miles with rarely a straight or flat section for pausing and collecting our thoughts. It's telling that at no point did I wish I was in any other car, because the BRZ, while certainly not the all-time quickest over this route, would prove to be the absolute epitome of this type of sports car. Get my drift here?

I felt as though I'd just driven a Porsche Cayman at less than half the price.

Long story short – and to all doubters who have only numbers on paper or computer to go by – the Subaru BRZ is one hell of a real sports car and, on roads like these, will beat the tar out of all legitimate comers selling for anywhere near the Subie's estimated $25,500, and many selling on up to $45,000. I was actually spotted shaking my head in disbelief while talking one-on-one with the BRZ's senior project manager, Toshio Masuda, following the drive. I felt as though I'd just driven a Porsche Cayman at less than half the price. Acceleration to 60 mph is estimated at below 7.0 seconds – some outlets have timed their examples at more like 7.3 – but straight-line gusto isn't really what this car is about.

Masuda-san was commendably forthcoming on the post-drive questions I had lined up. First off, the standard 17-inch wheel/tire combo can get as large as 18 inches, and tire width, even at 18 inches, can safely grow to as much as 235 – but only in the rear. The front tires need to stay at 215. The default damper and spring setup on the BRZ is so good under all road conditions that I had to ask who the supplier is. It's Japan's Showa for both, the conventional front MacPherson strut setup being of bespoke calibration, the rear damper/spring and whole double wishbone structure taken and modified from the WRX STI.

2013 Subaru BRZ headlight2013 Subaru BRZ side vent2013 Subaru BRZ wheel2013 Subaru BRZ taillight

The BRZ has the lowest center of gravity and best polar moment of inertia of any car you choose to compare.

With everyone in sports cars switching to electro-mechanical steering due to packaging and fuel efficiency gains, there has been a mess of opportunities over the past six months to see who's nailing it and who not so much. At one end, there is the distinctly sensory-deprived setup on the new Mercedes SL, then to the slightly less fuzzy steering on newer Audi models. Moving up the spectrum, there's the Porsche Boxster and on up to the new 911, which is pretty good (it's got the same ZF steering as the Boxster, so the fact that it's better than on the Boxster has to be down to sheer physics), and finally you hit the latest BMW 3 Series, which is spot-on for its segment. But the quick 13:1 ratio steering on the BRZ with electric actuation by Japan's Jtekt goes one better versus even the 3 Series. I had completely forgotten to even pay attention to it as such until the guy I was driving with blurt out, "The steering is really just so dang good. Doesn't feel one bit electronic."

These utterly responsive dynamics via the steering wheel, chassis and my inner ear are due to a sheaf of well-engineered decisions. Some of these details you might already know, but they bear repeating: First, the BRZ has the lowest center of gravity (18.1 inches from the tarmac) and best polar moment of inertia of any car you choose to compare – even a fully optioned Porsche Cayman S or Ferrari 458 Italia. This was Job One within the Suba-yota plan, if you will. Everything branched out from that fundamental requirement.

2013 Subaru BRZ interior

After that comes the light weight of the BRZ 2+2, which, in base trim with manual gearbox, starts at 2,762 pounds. That's more than 300 pounds lighter than a Mazda RX-8, close to 600 pounds less than a comparably equipped Hyundai Genesis Coupe and roughly 1,000 pounds less than the base Chevrolet Camaro V6. What we have here is the lightest, lowest, front-engined, rear-wheel-drive 2+2 in existence – a very good starting point for dynamic goodness.

A crucial part of this chemistry was getting that boat anchor we call the engine in the car to sit as low down and as far back as possible. The new FA20 naturally aspirated 2.0-liter boxer looks incredible compact sitting next to the Impreza's 2.0-liter. As it sits in the engine bay, it is mounted 4.7 inches lower down than the Impreza engine and pushed back toward the passengers some 9.5 inches. The battery has been mounted up and to the driver's right in the bay, again maximizing the 53:47 percent weight distribution fore:aft. This obsession with engine placement also led to the front suspension's lower A-arms being mounted ahead of the axle rather than typically rearward, a change that created a lower seating position for the FA20.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Subaru BRZ


Mix all this physics and engineering together, and the BRZ comports itself effortlessly well on real roads. The Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) in Normal mode will catch things when the tail strays a bit hard from the slip-angle safety zone, but it's not a violent clamping down on the proceedings. I was still wagging the tail nicely on the route's myriad hairpins, and the brake activation was meted out so as to blend pretty well with my driving style. Switching to VSC Sport and its higher thresholds allowed even smoother, slight drifts through entire hairpins.

The aftermarket will have a bit of a heyday playing with the BRZ's brakes, exhaust, and wheel-tire sets.

With the day's excellent conditions, though, I knocked off traction control (TRC) as well and the controlled high-rev dance began. With the confidence instilled by the BRZ's excellent chassis balance, the low amount of roll in turns, standard Torsen limited-slip differential in back, and the exceptional road feel from the tight 14.4-inch diameter steering wheel, we didn't lose our cool once out there, no matter how hairy the road became. Then with the front wheel camber at zero degrees and the rear set at negative 1.2 degrees, the BRZ gave me more and more permission to safely test my skills.

The braking action from the BRZ's seemingly very ordinary discs and calipers – 11.6-inch diameter front with two-piston caliper and 11.4-inch rear with single piston – was never an issue on this day. That's partially because when quickly backing off the throttle, the momentum can be peeled away pretty effectively from the powertrain. It's clear, though, that the aftermarket will have a bit of a heyday playing with the BRZ's brakes, exhaust, and wheel-tire sets. They may even do their own forced induction experiments and they'll certainly play with the coupe's aesthetics for better or worse.

2013 Subaru BRZ traction settings

The naturally aspirated boxer uses port injection at lower revs, but at the tachometer's higher end it uses Toyota-sourced direct injection as well. Despite all of that, it still has a little of that Japanese raspy tenor going on. But the 4-2-1 performance exhaust coupled with the intake valvetrain has finally given a standard Subaru a pleasingly huskier sound (short of an STI or one of the UK or Japan special spec models, I don't recall having this much aural entertainment). Naturally, the revs need to be up there for the rear pipes to make as much or more sound as the engine compartment, but I was staying in the higher revs all day anyway to get the most from this powertrain, so the soundtrack was definitely adequate.

The manual gearbox and its heel-and-toe friendly pedal set is so engaging that anything else comes a distant second.

Of course, there's the unavoidable debate for the BRZ/Scion FR-S/Toyota GT 86 clan: Could this car do with more power and torque? As driven here, blipping the free-revving four up to its 7,450-rpm redline over real-life roads, there is a certain style of driving needed, and it's a style I really like. Thankfully, though power of 200 horses is quoted as maxing at 7,000 revs, the FA20 up through its 1:1 fifth gear just keeps on pulling without signs of plateauing – even at max revs. The engine's 151 lb-ft of torque number is so unimpressive, though, and I found myself downshifting frequently to second where it would have been nice to settle in third. Though the EPA rates the manual BRZ at a 25-mile-per-gallon average city/highway (the automatic sits at 28 mpg), my copilot and I managed to register a somewhat naughtier 16-mpg average during our day of heady driving.

I did get to ply through the automatic gearbox briefly, and it is not as gratifying as the manual. The fact that the automatic's 1:1 ratio is fourth gear would pretty much eliminate it from contention for me. In Sport mode, it works quite nicely, but the manual gearbox and its heel-and-toe friendly pedal set is so engaging that anything else comes a distant second.

2013 Subaru BRZ engine

I asked Masuda-san point-blank if indeed there will be an STI-style turbocharged BRZ by the time this generation reaches the middle of its life in two-and-a-half or three years. A number came out of his mouth that raised my eyebrows. "In future, there is the thought to have as much as 280 horsepower." Well, uh, gosh, that's even a bit more than I was gambling for. "And we are," he went on, "thinking very much about the possibility of a turbocharger." So, could we be digging on somewhere around 250 pound-feet of torque? The master would not confirm or deny, but he did say that such a model would probably not use the acronym STI.

"In future, there is the thought to have as much as 280 horsepower."

One sad note: The very nice protruding two exhaust tips on my test car are only available on BRZs sold outside of North America. Our exhausts will be somewhat tucked away under the rear crash bumper as per safety regulations. Other differences versus the Euro-spec car tested here include the addition of a spare tire, standard sat-nav system and no optional aero underbody panel for us as in the rest of the world. In addition, the outer reflector on the taillights will be red and the inner reflector in the headlamps will be amber. Finally, an inconvenient truth: Split rear seatbacks are not available.

As for the overall look, I personally tune into it pretty strongly since I'm a closet late-90s Toyota Celica SR/GT and original Opel GT fan. The 52-inch wide body color rear spoiler looks fine by me as well and comes standard on the Limited top trim, while it's a cost accessory on the base Premium spec. After staring at silver and blue BRZs all day, the only thing that bothered me a bit was the taillight shape seemingly taken from a Chevrolet.

2013 Subaru BRZ rear 3/4 view

As it stands now, comments regarding tires and torque and brakes are naturally going to come out while doing laps at a hot track. This launch model is not a racer, it's a classic sports car for not too much scratch (the sort of enthusiast's car that Porsche flirted with offering until the mid 1970s). The Premium trim ought to start, as stated, somewhere north of $25,000, the top trim Limited at just over $27,000. Options and accessories are almost non-existent for the moment. If you must go automatic – only 30 percent of initial orders are thus – then the BRZ could start reaching toward $30k. But with just 500 cars per month allotted to the U.S. and 600 Subaru dealers therein, I can already smell the greed in the air. There'll be a few disappointing dealer tales, to be sure, as there were for small volume sportsters like the BMW 1M Coupe.

The excitement around this trio of light and tight 2+2s from Japan is warranted. Every single ingredient of the BRZ's feature set, price point, lack of availability and performance will work together to cause an abundance of well-deserved hype, and perhaps more than a bit of dealer price gouging if Subaru isn't careful.

From my perspective, of the Toyobaru trio, buyers should probably go for this Subie. It's the original of the three, it's built in a Subaru factory and it runs on the company's FA20 flat four. That just feels right. Either way, at these modest sticker prices, the BRZ is one of those unbelievable deals for which the U.S. car market is both envied and reviled by all others. Get in line, sports fans.

New sports car boasts beautiful balance, affordable price.

Introduction

The Subaru BRZ, an all-new sports car, has been very carefully designed to be a winner by Toyota and Subaru engineers and designers, working largely together. There was a clear purpose in mind: make an affordable sports car without luxury add-ons or mega horsepower, but that is still state of the art when it comes to efficiency in the powertrain and chassis. It took a clean sheet of paper to do that. 

The Subaru BRZ is rear-wheel drive, and its rear-wheel-drive layout is a key aspect to what makes it great. The BRZ a 2+2 coupe, with jump seats in the rear for children or stuff like gym bags. 

The engine is a new 2.0-liter with the latest direct port injection, making 200 horsepower normally aspirated. The standard 6-speed manual gearbox is way fun, carefully designed like the rest of the car to be that way. There's an optional paddle-shifting 6-speed automatic, if you don't want to deal with a clutch pedal. It's the only option for the car, beyond two models, Premium and Limited. 

The suspension is tight; it negates the bumps and hugs the road, and doesn't transmit anything harsh or jarring. The handling is more flick-able than any sports car out there, including the Mazda MX-5 (although not counting the nearly identical Scion FR-S because anything we say about the BRZ is also true for the FR-S). Between the suspension, turn-in from a quick steering ratio, and manual gearbox, the BRZ offers almost as much pure sports car fun as the MX-5, as long as you don't need the wind in your hair and no back seats to feel like you're driving a sports car. 

Subaru boasts about the low center of gravity making the BRZ special, and rightly so. The center of gravity is 1.9 inches lower than that of the Porsche Cayman. The whole car, including the new engine, was designed with that in mind. A low center of gravity, along with balanced front-rear weight distribution, is what makes that excellent handling. 

We got good seat time on some of our favorite twisty roads, and had a ball. Later we drove the BRZ on Oregon back roads at an event called Run to the Sun, hosted by the Northwest Automotive Press Association. We drove as aggressively as we dared, with no worries about losing control, also thanks to the standard non-intrusive stability control that has five levels, including one for track driving. The BRZ will be a blast at track days or autocross events. In fact, the interior was designed with room to carry four tires, with the seatbacks of the rear jump seats folded flat. The standard summer performance tires are fine on the track, but some track-day drivers and most autocross drivers go for stickier rubber so they'll be able to drive to the event on the street tires and change over to the race tires for the event. 

Rear-wheel drive is a modern first for Subaru, a company that's been totally all-wheel drive almost forever. With no drivetrain to the front wheels, the engine could be placed farther rearward to achieve better balance; the engine is 9.5 inches farther back than the 2.0-liter engine in the Subaru Impreza. And the engines are slightly different at the intake manifold and oil pan, so the BRZ engine could also be mounted 2.4 inches lower than the Impreza's. The BRZ's light weight of 2762 pounds, using high-tensile steel in the frame with an aluminum hood, adds to the car's agility. 

The styling doesn't turn heads, unless maybe the BRZ is a flashy color, for example copper like the Scion FR-S comes in. If the BRZ's lines resemble any other car, it might be the same-sized Nissan 370Z, or the Mazda RX-8, a car that might be the best comparable. The BRZ is super low, with a roof height of only 50.6 inches, or .8 inches lower than that of the Porsche Cayman. From the side, its distinction is in the humps on the fenders harboring 17-inch wheels and tires. The roof has a wide groove, and that adds distinction, and the sideview mirrors are sharpened, which is also neat; but there are some cheap plastic bits on the sides and nose of the car. 

The interior is tight, simple and comfortable. That's tight as in design, not lack of space. There's no apologizing for the fabric seats, which are rugged and stylish with excellent bolstering. Little kids will love the two seats in the back. Navigation is standard and blessedly simple. Alloy pedals and red-stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob are cool. We especially liked the tachometer mounted in center that includes a digital readout for speed that's very easy to read. In fact, the speedometer redundant. 

Fuel mileage is good, with the 6-speed manual delivering an EPA-estimated 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined, and the 6-speed automatic bringing better numbers, 25/34/28 mpg. But that's on Premium fuel, because of the high compression ratio of the direct port injection engine, so fuel cost isn't as good as mpg appears. 

Lineup

The 2013 Subaru BRZ comes in two models, Premium and Limited. Both use the 2.0-liter engine and 6-speed manual gearbox, with the 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters optional. 

Standard equipment on the BRZ Premium ($25,495) includes fabric sport seats, manual air conditioning and heating, navigation with 6.1-inch LCD screen and voice command, Bluetooth, 8-speaker/196-watt AM/FM/XM/1CD sound system with HD, MP3, iPod, and iTunes tagging, USB port, SMS text messaging, and audio input jack, HID headlamps, power windows and door locks, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. 

BRZ Limited ($26,830) adds Alcantara leather seat inserts and bolsters, foglights, rear spoiler, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and mirrors, keyless access and ignition, illuminated vanity mirrors and interior door lights. 

Safety features that come standard include Subaru's Ring-Shaped Reinforcement Frame safety structure, dual-stage frontal airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, electronic stability control and traction control, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and brake override, which cuts the engine power when the brake pedal and gas pedal are both pressed; and the LATCH child safety seat system. 

Walkaround

The Subaru BRZ doesn't turn heads, at least not in plain silver like our test model. Scion has a couple colors for the FR-S that Subaru doesn't have, and colors on this car make a big difference. The BRZ looks like everything else and nothing else at the same time, and please don't ask us to explain. If it looks like anything else at all, it might be a cross between the Nissan 370Z and Mazda RX-8. 

It's super low, with a roof height of only 50.6 inches, or .8 inches lower than that Porsche Cayman. The coefficient of drag is a sleek 0.29. But where it seems lowest is at the hood, with its 17-inch wheels jammed up inside wheelwells that rise above the hood. You see this especially from the inside, making the nose of the car look square, when viewed through the windshield. Sideview, the car's only distinction is those humps over the fenders. The wheels have many sharp spokes, some black and some alloy. 

The nose looks like its designer knocked it out in an afternoon. Not that it's ugly, because it isn't; it's just simple, almost cookie-cutter. Big hexagon mouth, corners trimmed. HID headlamps are sharp triangles pointing toward the grille, like pizza slices smoothed out so they don't look like pizza slices. 

The roof has a wide groove, and that adds distinction; it spreads out, so by the time it reaches the top of the rear window, most of the roof is groove. The sideview mirrors are sharpened, which is also neat, but it would be neater if they weren't black on the bottom half. There are some awful gray or black plastic things just forward of the sideview mirrors. Pseudo whats? Granted, they look good from a distance, but when you touch them, the rubbery plastic nearly falls off in your hand. There are plastic pretend air intakes at the corners of the front fascia, surrounding the foglamps on the BRZ Limited, but standing alone and making a statement (this car is cheap) on the (oxymoronic) standard Premium. 

There's a Subaru six-star ornament on the nose, so you know what it is. At the tail, the lamps are round red LED lights that look good when they're lit up, with white wings that don't look so good, hiding amber turn signals. Twin tailpipes come out of the black diffuser that has vertical ridges that appear to have been copied from the Batmobile. Between the pipes there's a red triangle reflector that somebody forgot to remove from the European version (where it's a foglight), and a white backup light. 

Interior

Maybe spartan isn't the best word to describe the BRZ interior, because spartan implies it's lacking, but spartan is how this car should be, so spartan is just right as far as we're concerned. It's slim. It has all you need, including navigation as standard equipment. It's simple navigation. It works. At least, it works when you use your fingers. 

But you can forget the voice command part. Even a Subaru rep couldn't get the nav to get within about 2000 miles of where we wanted to go. You say 'Washington' and it hears 'Florida.' What else is new. In our experience, almost all of them are like that. You say you want pizza and it sends you out for barbecue. Although recently a Chrysler 300 we drove got it right. 

We like the rugged fabric seats; they have an appropriate look and feel, not a cut-rate cloth feel. The bolstering is good and tight; maybe too tight, as very broad backs won't fit. The three-spoke steering wheel is leather-wrapped with red stitching, and looks cool. So do the alloy pedals, including the dead pedal that's very functional and great to have in a car like this. 

Gauge-wise, there's a big tachometer in the center, with a small shift light on the left side of the dash; not the best place but better than nothing. The speedo to the left isn't very easy to read, but no matter; there's a digital display with your numbers in the middle of the tach, good to go by. Better, in fact. The easy-to-read orange digital display actually makes the speedometer unnecessary. 

The standard screen is small, 6.5 inches, but big enough for the space, and its information and images are arranged in a tidy manner. Small buttons, touch screen, easy to reach. 

Climate controls are three simple knobs. Two cupholders behind the leather-wrapped shift lever, no center console, decent glovebox, easy door handles and window buttons, good left armrest for cruising on the freeway, although it's low so you end up gripping the steering wheel down at about 7 o'clock. There's good visibility out the rear window, although the center brake light is mounted on little legs that cause it to obstruct a bit in the rearview mirror. Much worse is the big blind spot from the sloping C pillar, when the driver looks over his or her shoulder. 

As for the rear seats, we're glad they're there, they're better than none at all. They work for kids. Small kids. The specs say there's 29.9 inches of rear legroom; really? That's more than two feet, sounds like a lot. But with the front seats in a reasonable driving position, we looked back and saw zero inches of rear legroom. If you want a sports car with real room in the back for passengers, get a Mazda RX-8. 

Driving Impression

The BRZ is tossable. Tossable tossable tossable. The rewards of great balance, supported by Michelin 215/45R17 summer performance tires and triggered by a quick steering ratio of 13.12:1. Pitch this baby around, it's so much fun. Stability control will save you without stopping you; but even if it didn't, you can still recover. We tried it both ways. All five ways, in fact. Actually, we couldn't tell much difference, a sign of good stability control. 

With the stability control turned off we could get the BRZ to understeer, or push its front wheels, but that only happened after it oversteered, with the tail out. But we were trying to get the tail out, because like we said it's so easy and so much fun. A Torsen limited slip differential helps give the inside rear wheel traction in corners, especially accelerating hard out of second-gear curves. 

At first we thought the gearbox might be notchy, putting it into gear from a standstill, but that's the last time we noticed, or cared. It's a very great short-throw gearbox, shifting neat and hard without fail. Rare triple-cone synchronizers in first, second and third gears let you slam it from fourth to third to second and even hard down into first. What helps is the clutch action and pedal position; easiest car to heel-and-toe downshift we've come across in a long, long time. The Nissan 370Z manual gearbox might blip for you, but who needs it. It's better to do it yourself when the car gets it right every time. When you climb out of the BRZ after a good session, be sure to look down and check out the cool alloy pedals, they'll make you smile and feel like Dan Gurney. 

Alas, we didn't get a chance to drive a BRZ with the paddle-shifting 6-speed with sport mode and downshift blipping. We'd buy the manual, though. 

One thing is, you'll need to know how to use the clutch when pulling out from a stop on hills. Even though Subaru invented the assist where the brakes stay on for a couple seconds, so you can get your foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal without rolling backward, the BRZ doesn't have that feature because of its clutch. 

The brakes do the job quite nicely. We used them good and hard, and liked the firm pedal feel. Ventilated 11.6-inch discs front and rear, twin-piston calipers in front and single-piston in back. 

The engine revs to 7400 rpm, where the rev limiter drops your nose onto the red-stitched steering wheel, so don't go there. It won't get you there terribly fast, which you might notice at full throttle on a straight freeway on-ramp, but if you're between curves on a two-lane, acceleration is just right. The two-liter flat-four engine loves being in third gear at 6000 rpm, about 70 mph, if you can find a series of curves where that's about the top speed between them. The higher the revs, the happier it is, up to 7400. 

Torque is only 151 foot-pounds, peaking at a high 6400 rpm, but we never would have guessed. The torque feels more available than those numbers suggest. 

We liked the suspension, both the around-town ride and out there on the bumpy curves. It's not easy to find a suspension that works in all situations, especially when you're trying to make a car that handles great in the curves, and especially again when it's not a fancy suspension with different settings. But the Toyota and Subaru engineers have done it. The ride is firm, and you can definitely feel your butt moving up and down, sometimes even dancing up and down, but it never hurts. It just hugs the bumps and feels tight. And when you want it to be stable, in switchback curves, it is. 

If 200 horsepower isn't enough for you, wait another year or so, when Subaru is bound to bring out a turbocharged version. They haven't said so, but surely they will. Or go ahead and buy this one and sell it a year from now; we suspect the price will stay up there, because at its introduction, dealers were asking and getting more than MSRP because demand was so great. 

Summary

The Subaru BRZ hits the mark with every shot: engine, transmission, handling brakes, interior, exterior, and price. 

Sam Moses filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive of the BRZ in the Pacific Northwest. 

Model Lineup

Subaru BRZ Premium ($25,495); BRZ Limited ($26,830). 

Assembled In

Japan. 

Options As Tested

none. 

Model Tested

Subaru BRZ Premium ($25,495). 

*The data and content on this web site is subject to change without notice. Neither AOL nor any of its data or content providers shall be liable for errors in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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