2018 BRZ New Car Test Drive
The 2017 Subaru BRZ is in its fifth year, hard to believe, since it has hardly become a household word. It's more of a quiet revolution. It's a true sports car. Nearly perfect balance, nimble handling, high-revving engine, no frills, not so many compromises for comfort (but far from uncomfortable). Well, air conditioning is standard, which puts it into perspective, and reality. But it's still all about the driving experience. Name another car like that.
Even the Mazda MX-5, which certainly succeeds in the driving experience department, doesn't carry the BRZ's distinction of a track-day style. The BRZ is for drivers who want to be delighted by the act of driving.
When it was introduced for 2013, it had a twin, the Scion FR-S, which is now the Toyota 86.
New for the 2017 Subaru BRZ is a Performance Package that includes Brembo brakes with 12.8-inch rotors with four-piston calipers in front and 12.4-inch rotors with two-piston calipers in rear. Sachs ZF shock absorbers; and black 17-inch alloy wheels that are a half-inch wider, with 215/45R17 summer tires. Also new for the 2017 BRZ are LED headlamps and a front bumper cap flanking LED foglamps.
Like the Toyota 86, the BRZ uses Subaru's 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder FA engine with Toyota's fuel injection making 205 horsepower that loves to be revved. The design of the engine, unique to these two cars, allows it to be mounted low to the ground, even lower than other Subaru flat-fours. The 6-speed manual gearbox is precise and has a short throw. There is also a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters, sport mode, and downshift rev-matching.
With the fairly low weight of 2785 pounds, and smallish (non-turbo) 2.0-liter engine, the BRZ scores an EPA-rated 34 Highway miles per gallon.
The NHTSA gives the BRZ five stars overall, with four stars for the driver in a frontal crash; and the IIHS gives it mostly top ratings. A rearview camera is standard, however there are fewer safety options than with Subaru sedans and crossovers.
The 2017 Subaru BRZ Premium ($25,395) comes standard with power windows, air conditioning, cruise control and 6.2-inch touchscreen incorporating HD Radio, satellite radio, a CD player, Bluetooth audio streaming, iTunes tagging, a USB port, and an aux-in port. It's compatible with smartphone apps for Aha, Pandora, and Stitcher, among others.
BRZ Limited ($27,395) gets heated seats and other niceties. BRZ Series Blue ($27,690) is a Limited enhanced with special trim.