August 13, 2013
The 2013 Subaru BRZ is a driver's car. So fittingly, I find myself in the passenger seat. As Mark mentioned, we're on our way up to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to drown in the glory that is MotoGP. Mark is driving, which gives me some time to look around for that perfect spot on the Central California coast to build my winery.
It also gives me time to think.
Stuff like, "Why does Mark's iPod have so many songs by Kenny Loggins?"
"Another Roger Waters song?"
"Enya? C'mon Mark."
And, "My butt hurts."
August 9, 2013
It was race day at the 2013 U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. As we had the previous two days, Kurt and I left our Cannery Row hotel in the morning, but this time we were all packed to head home after the race.
August 5, 2013
One feature I tried out during my 1,700-mile road trip to Utah in our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ is the trip recorder feature. You access it through the touchscreen display, and it's able to track a bunch of interesting data: average speed, average speed while driving (subtracting out the time when you're stopped in traffic), highest speed, total driving time, highest altitude, lowest altitude and total mileage, of course.
Just before I backed out of my garage at 5:33 a.m. on my way to Moab, I hit the record button, figuring I could record the entire outbound leg.
August 1, 2013
Picking up where Part One left off, photographer Kurt Niebuhr and I cruised around the Monterey Peninsula over the Moto GP weekend. Rather than take a shuttle from our Cannery Row hotel to Mazda Raceway, we made use of the parking pass we were given.
In the grayness of the morning, the 2013 Subaru BRZ seemed to get lost in the other shades of gray in the valet circle. Can you even spot it in the photo? Personally, I like the bright red color of our FR-S, as it seems more appropriate for such a fun car.
July 31, 2013
I've complained about our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ's feeble power on my recent road trip to Utah. But as I've been hinting, the BRZ returned stellar fuel economy, even though its 2.0-liter engine got a workout on the mountain passes, and even with 75-mph speed limits on much of Interstate 15.
Over 1,726 miles, the Subaru averaged 31.9 mpg. Not only does that far surpass its lifetime average of 26.5 mpg, it's well ahead of its 30 mpg EPA highway rating.
July 26, 2013
We were reaching the end of the long-term test of our 2013 Subaru BRZ when photographer Kurt Niebuhr and I received an invitation to attend the MotoGP race weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. What a great way to log another 700 miles or so before we hand the keys back, no?
July 24, 2013
With all my detours through Utah backcountry, the return trip from Moab had me on the road for 15 hours. This experience drove home the point that the 2013 Subaru BRZ is a truly modern sports car that could legitimately serve as your only car.
By the time I took this photo, as we crossed into the small corner of Arizona traversed by Interstate 15, I'd been driving for many hours but I was not uncomfortable in the driver seat.
July 22, 2013
You should always take the back roads when you're driving out West and you have the time. Even if you don't have the time, you should do it, especially if you have a car like the 2013 Subaru BRZ that handles well. Every one of these little roads goes through some national park or monument and you don't want to miss that.
The only problem is that Utah has some pretty high elevations. At no point were the BRZ and I below 4,000 feet, and at one point, we were at 9,600 feet on Utah Highway 12 in the Dixie National Forest. The altitude was absolutely an issue when trying to use passing zones, as fearless tourists in rental cars would pretend not to notice the dark gray sports car trying to accelerate past them and hit the gas instead of yielding.
I never lost any of these battles, but completing these passes required a fair amount of determination: It's not the frequent shifting I minded (I love shifting). It was the middling amount of torque in any gear. I was reminded how I've been spoiled in recent years by turbocharged sport compacts like the Mazdaspeed 3, Focus ST and VW GTI. The MS3, in particular, would have been great on this route.
July 17, 2013
Last week I drove from Los Angeles to Moab, Utah, in our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ. The outbound trip was about 750 miles and took 11 hours. All but 50 of those miles were on the Interstate, though, so I had to make sure the return route wasn't nearly as direct: I detoured onto Utah Highway 24, then Highway 12, then U.S. 89, then Highway 9, and well, you get the idea. In all, it was about 800 miles, and with frequent stops for photography and summer construction (how do I always forget about this?), I was on the road for about 16 hours.
Of course, I have quite a bit to say after being alone in the BRZ for that long.
July 5, 2013
The 2013 Subaru BRZ is a modern-day version of the Nissan 240SX (or Honda Prelude, if you're not bothered about which wheels do the driving), and it's vastly more livable than any sport compact of the 1990s. At least that's what I think. Come Monday, July 8, I'll put that opinion on the line, as I set out for a 1,600-mile road trip in our long-term BRZ.
July 3, 2013
We put 1,296 miles on our 2013 Subaru BRZ during the month of June. That's a low total for us, especially considering our 12-month long-term test ends in late July. We'll simply have to take it on a road trip to plump up its mileage. Of course, I've already volunteered. I'm driving it to Moab, the place in Utah, next week.
In the meantime, let's talk about mpg, as the BRZ continues to impress in this area.
July 1, 2013
Like our Subaru Impreza, the BRZ offers easy-to-find fluid fill points in the engine bay. The coolant overflow, washer fluid, dipstick, oil-fill port and both the clutch and brake fluids (both brake fluid) are capped with yellow lids.
June 28, 2013
Leather is both a blessing and a curse in a car designed to go quickly around corners. Certainly it looks good. But it's slick. And by slick I mean "hang on to the steering wheel for dear life, slick." There are better materials.
June 21, 2013
A few weeks ago, Automotive Editor James Riswick noted that our long-term Subaru BRZ was an "Attention Getter" and hypothesized that it is the coolest car currently available for under $30,000. I agree, partly because it's a rear-wheel-drive sports car that you can get sideways just by breathing on it, but also because looks so damn good.
June 20, 2013
In general, I try not to get too annoyed at the budget navigation system in our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ. The way I see it, the nav system isn't really what you're paying for with this car. Instead, you're paying for the Toyobarus' rear-wheel-drive architecture and painstakingly tuned suspension and steering. This cheapy nav unit is one small way to help defray development costs on a car that's very enjoyable to drive relative to what you end up paying for it.
But there's no denying that the navigation software is rudimentary at best. For example, over the weekend, I ventured into the Sounds and Warnings submenu within the Settings menu. The purpose of my visit was merely to lower the guidance volume, as the navigation lady ("Samantha") had begun shouting prompts at the top of her lungs. After lowering the volume, I realized I could adjust Samantha's verbosity level. Verbosity? Who did the translation here?
June 14, 2013
One thing that makes our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ so enjoyable for me is the proximity of all the controls.
June 5, 2013
I may be 6-foot-3, but I have tiny girl fingers. Remember that woman on Seinfeld who Jerry dumped for having man hands? Well, I'm basically the opposite of her.
Why this confession? Well, the buttons on Subaru's touchscreen are so tiny and difficult to press while in motion that even I of the tiny girl fingers have trouble pressing them. I just hunt and peck away like a dim-witted pigeon, successfully pressing the desired button only about 33 percent of the time (give or take) as the firmly sprung BRZ jiggles and jostles my hand. And even if I do land the button square on, there's a good chance I simultaneously pressed part of two other buttons.
The ideal solution would be for Subaru to replace the thing...or buy a Scion FR-S. Barring that, I came up with a work-around courtesy of the Edmunds supply room.
June 3, 2013
The Month of May saw another 1,417 miles tacked-on to our long-term Subaru BRZ. Besides a trip to the dealer for the 15,000-mile service, the BRZ didn't see any notable trips outside of the usual L.A. commute.
May 31, 2013
Does any new car that costs less than $30,000 draw as much positive attention as the Subaru BRZ? Not in my experience at least. Every time I drive it I get admiring glances, thumbs up and declarations of "hey, nice car man!" Some are from those in the know, but most are from folks who simply see a small, sleek and sporty coupe and think it looks cool. That would be the "Wait, that's a Subaru?" crowd.
May 30, 2013
Will the kid fit? That's the question. The answer is yes. Is it practical? Not really, but it can be done. There's enough room to fold the Subaru BRZ front seat back and install a small adult up there. And by "small adult" I mean my wife, who's 5'4". Beyond that, it probably doesn't make sense.
I do have a friend, however, who hauls two kids around in his Scion FR-S, but he's dedicated. And that's what's required if you plan on doing this with any frequency.
May 29, 2013
I flew back into the office after a redeye flight from Hawaii, and all I wanted to do was collapse. I asked Edmunds' car czar, Mike Schmidt, if anything was available for a quick trip home and he said "the BRZ."
Perfect. Seriously. After five days spent in a rental car which shall remain nameless (Nissan Sentra, with a CVT that sounded like it wanted to fry itself), it was refreshing to get back into a real car. In this case, a real sports car.
May 28, 2013
West L.A. traffic is a depressing place to be in a Subaru BRZ. And yet there I was yesterday, caged like a caffeinated puppy, raring to go with no ability to do so. So instead I zoned out for a bit and pictured myself two weeks prior, on vacation, and touring the English countryside. Then I had a 1.6-liter Nissan Qashqai: a comfortable, easy-to-drive runabout rather well suited to sitting in suburban traffic. If only a trade of automobile and setting would've been possible...
May 24, 2013
We had the 15,000-mile service performed on our 2012 Subaru BRZ yesterday. This was the second dose of routine maintenance for the Subaru. Under the BRZ's scheduled maintenance plan, the first four visits are performed by the dealer free of charge.
May 23, 2013
This is what floor mat retention done right looks like: Two solidly engaging locking mechanisms at the rear of the mat. And that's exactly what the BRZ has.
May 21, 2013
Possibly you've heard about the BRZ's tires. You know, the 215/45R7 Michelin Primacy HP rubber it shares with the JDM Toyota Prius Sport Package? These rock-hard pizza cutters keep the Subaru BRZ's limits low and its fun factor fairly high.
They also squeal. A lot.
May 14, 2013
You knew this wouldn't take long. The Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S are attracting attention in automotive executive suites, enough that GM North America president Mark Reuss wants Chevy to develop an inexpensive, lightweight rear-wheel-drive car.
Reuss told Automotive News that the Code 130R, a RWD concept coupe shown at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, drew strong feedback from young attendees. The success of The Twins has likely reignited discussions about tapping into what is still a small sandbox.
Scion has sold about 6,300 FR-S models this year. Subaru has sold about 2,600 BRZs. For perspective, the FR-S is, to date, Scion's best seller. And it only undersells the Lexus IS by a few hundred units.
Why the gap then, when the BRZ's base price is only about $1,000 more than the Scion?
May 13, 2013
The last time I called a long-term car a "great all-rounder" it was our Mazda 3. And I'm finding our 2013 Subaru BRZ to be another such jack of all trades, at least for a single, city dweller such as myself. Here's why I like it so much:
May 10, 2013
Early this month automakers released their sales figures for April as well as the year so far. Since this is a quarter of the way into 2013, it's usually interesting to me to see how certain cars are selling so far. The 2013 Subaru BRZ is one of the cars I looked at.
In April, Subaru sold 812 BRZs, for a total of 2,600 this year. This means the BRZ continues to be the rarer companion to the Scion FR-S, which racked up 1,629 sales in April and 6,269 total so far in 2013. If you're seeing more FR-S models on the road, this is likely why.
I've also got a few other sales figures for other sport coupes this year.
May 8, 2013
A few weeks back, I drove our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ to Formula Drift in Long Beach, and it felt like it belonged here.
Now the darlings of the tuner world, BRZs and FR-Ss are flooding every car show and the modification possibilities are endless. Wheels, tires, suspension, turbochargers, superchargers, seats, wings, spoilers and more, are all becoming available from hundreds of different aftermarket manufacturers.
The Toyobarus are attracting a whole new generation of drivers to my favorite pastime: modifying cars. And the aftermarket's enthusiasm for the BRZ (and its Scion twin) confirms that people will get excited about cars when companies produce exciting cars. Every time I drive our BRZ, I think about what I'd tinker with first if I owned one.
May 8, 2013
The first time I drove our 2013 Subaru BRZ, I was underwhelmed by the way the engine sounded. Since the BRZ has a 2.0-liter flat-4 under the hood, I was expecting that it would have a syncopated exhaust burble like the Subaru Impreza WRX. Instead, my first impression was that the BRZ's engine just sounded like a normal four-cylinder, albeit a high-revving one.
But now that I've spent plenty of time with our car, I've come around to appreciating the way the car sounds.
May 2, 2013
We added about another 1,000 miles to our 2013 Subaru BRZ during April. The miles were largely from commuting around Los Angeles and resulted in an average of 26 mpg. That's slightly above the EPA's 25 mpg estimate for combined driving.
May 1, 2013
Small trunk. Tiny backseat. A manual transmission. Manual-adjust seats. Yep, our 2013 Subaru BRZ would seem quite the impractical vehicle for most Americans. Yet just in the last few days I've used our BRZ for mundane tasks such as grocery shopping, taking my daughter to school and picking up relatives at the airport.
April 30, 2013
The 2013 Subaru BRZ is meant to be an elemental sport coupe, one that goes back to the basics of driving. Much of that comes from the way the car steers and handles, but the interior design contributes as well.
April 25, 2013
A few days ago I was going through our list of long-term cars that were available to drive. There wasn't much left on the list. But eyes stopped on the Subaru BRZ. I adore this car, so it was a really easy choice for me to grab the key to the "Breeze." To all of the other editors on staff who passed it over: Thank you.
April 23, 2013
The pedals in our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ are great. They're not particularly good looking, but the placement is downright perfect.
April 22, 2013
While driving our 2013 Subaru BRZ this week, I felt a little claustrophobic. The windows are short and, with the shallow, stylized roofline, I doubt Subaru will ever equip a sunroof. Lucky for me, the market will probably see a Toyobaru convertible soon.
April 17, 2013
The headlights, fog lights and grill design are all slightly different between our 2013 Subaru BRZ and our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S.
The LED strips above the BRZ's fog lights act as daytime running lights and are part of its more refined look. They're a nice touch, but I've never seen them on.
April 10, 2013
I really hate getting speeding tickets. And with the BRZ's aggressive looks, I knew I'd be a target for every cop between Los Angeles and San Diego. But I wanted to get this little sports car out of traffic and onto something fun to drive. Sure, with a tiny back seat and a decent trunk, you can use this as a daily driver. But it yearns for a winding country road where I could wind it out. So that's where I went.
I really enjoyed the BRZ's performance and handling with one exception.
April 9, 2013
I'd never driven the 2013 Subaru BRZ before so I decided to take the long way home. You can't tell much about a car when you sit in traffic except for the seats, which I really liked. I went into the Port of Long Beach and up and over the spectacular Gerald Desmond Bridge. But the best part was yet to come.
April 3, 2013
Everybody bagged on Chris Bangle and what came to be called flame-surfacing when his first designs hit the road. A decade later, flame surfacing, 3D creases and compound curves show up in everyone's designs, from Hyundai to Ford. And here they are in the BRZ's dash, in the metal mesh grilles for the mids and tweeters.
April 2, 2013
In the month of March, our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ spun an additional 1,344 miles onto its odometer and consumed 51 gallons of 91 octane fuel. That equates to 26.3 miles per gallon for the month, which is bang on its lifetime average, too.
April 1, 2013
In truth the 2013 Subaru BRZ's climate control knobs aren't completely detent-less. But they're darn close.
And apparently I'm a texture and detent kinda guy. So it bugs me when I try to turn the Subie's central fan speed knob up just one click, and it instead goes up two or three because there's almost no resistance.
March 29, 2013
This photo doesn't really depict sports car driving. Instead, it's a parking lot at a Mexican restaurant in the boondocks of Orange County (yes, such a place exists) that you tried for the first time and realized, sure, the ambience is fantastic, but the service is agonizingly slow, food mediocre and prices definitely too steep for what you get.
But I digress.
This is the point with the Subaru BRZ. You look for excuses to take it for a spin, drive it a little further than you need to, because it's such an entertaining piece. Even if that means ending up at an over-priced, underwhelming restaurant.
March 28, 2013
This morning I walked out to our 2013 Subaru BRZ and found the dome light left on. At the time I had no way of knowing how long it was lit. So I hustled upstairs, grabbed the key and climbed inside.
March 26, 2013
You'll forgive me the dark and grainy photo, but it wasn't until this dark morning that I realized our 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited had an automatic approach-light feature.
March 21, 2013
When I connected my iPod to our 2013 Subaru BRZ's audio system for the drive home yesterday, it sounded awful, flat, and shallow. I've already ranted once (here) on how difficult it is to press those teeny, virtual buttons. So, imagine my surprise, three menus deep, to find this.
March 12, 2013
A lot of cars have been run through the Edmunds long-term test program over the years. It's hard to say exactly how many of those I've driven, but it's easily more than 100. Within that group, there are certain cars that I truly enjoyed and would love to own and put in my own garage.
The 2013 Subaru BRZ is one of them.
March 11, 2013
One of the neat little features I like about our 2013 Subaru BRZ (and Scion FR-S) is the programmable rpm-based shift indicator light. It's a little red light in the gauge cluster that flashes (there's a corresponding beep, too) that notifies you that the engine has achieved a certain rpm. The main use of the light is to make it easier to know when the engine is approaching redline as you're accelerating hard so that you know when to upshift. You can use your peripheral vision to spot the light (or just listen for the beep) instead of having to focus your eyes on the tachometer itself.