2015 BRZ New Car Test Drive
The Subaru BRZ is a fun, affordable, rear-wheel-drive sport coupe that's small, nimble and tossable. It's fun and easy to drive on a race track.
For 2015, Subaru BRZ gets a revised suspension that makes it even more stable in hard cornering. Also new is the 2015 BRZ Series Blue edition, which will be limited to 1,000 units in the U.S. Other minor changes for the 2015 BRZ lineup include a shark fin antenna that replaces the outgoing pole-style antenna, and a revised interior trim.
Built in cooperation with Toyota, the Subaru BRZ is very similar to the Scion FR-S.
Subaru BRZ is powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine that makes 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. 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 6-speed automatic, which comes with paddle shifters.
Like the FR-S, the seats and the engine of the BRZ sit lower than most cars, resulting in a low center of gravity that equates to excellent handling with very little body roll. The suspension is firm and hugs the road, though some may find it a little harsh for road trips or daily driving.
Rear-wheel drive is a modern first for Subaru, which has dedicated itself to the beauty of all-wheel drive. With no drivetrain to the front wheels, the engine could be located farther rearward, which means better balance and handling. And 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. In short, it is a classic front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports machine.
Skilled, experienced drivers can throw the BRZ around aggressively, thanks to non-intrusive stability control that has five levels, including one for track driving. The summer performance tires that come standard would handle the track just fine, but enthusiasts who want to swap out for sticker tires will be pleased to know the BRZ's trunk, with its fold-flat seat, will hold a set of four mounted tires.
Styling of the Subaru BRZ is attractive but not over the top, and some of the eye-popping colors available on the Scion FR-S are not offered.
Back seats are small and are best left to children or gear. This is primarily a two-seat car. The interior is simple and comfortable, with the focus clearly on the driving. Fabric seats are rugged and stylish, with excellent bolstering. 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.
However, the Subaru BRZ, like the Scion FR-S, lacks certain convenience features such as steering-wheel mounted controls, and some buttons on the dash don't light up at night. That means extra distraction when trying to change the station or toggle through menu items. Also, the touchscreen looks more like an aftermarket edition, and the interface isn't easy to use.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2015 Subaru BRZ is 22/30/25 mpg City/Highway/Combined, and 25/34/28 mpg for the efficient 6-speed automatic. One important thing to note is these numbers are achieved using Premium gasoline, which lessens the BRZ's overall affordability over time. But if you want a sports car, you're likely willing to buy Premium gas.
The most direct competitor to the 2015 Subaru BRZ is the Scion FR-S. Although it's a convertible, the Mazda Miata MX-5 is the closest rival when it comes to the track, though we think the BRZ and FR-S handle just as well. Base models of the pony cars are around the same price point: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and the much larger Dodge Challenger.
The 2015 Subaru BRZ comes in three models: Premium, Limited and Series Blue. All use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and are available with a six-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic, with the exception of the Series Blue, which comes exclusively with a stick shift.
The BRZ Premium ($25,695) includes manually operated air conditioning, fabric sport seats, a height-adjustable driver's seat, keyless entry, cruise control, power windows/door locks/mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, an eight-speaker sound system with CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and USB port, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen with navigation and voice control, a fold-flat rear seatback, a limited-slip rear differential, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels with summer tires.
BRZ Limited ($27,695) upgrades to dual-zone automatic climate control and simulated suede and leather upholstery and adds pushbutton start, heated front seats and mirrors, foglamps and a rear spoiler.
BRZ Series Blue (available in a blue or white exterior color) includes everything found on the Limited model plus a unique black-and blue interior color scheme with accent stitching, additional aerodynamics, black wheels and red calipers.
Safety features include 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.