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 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 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 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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
March 7, 2013
Recently, I wrote an update about how few people seem to know what our 2013 Subaru BRZ is, even if they do like the way it looks. Well, I should update that observation slightly with the following: Subaru Impreza WRX drivers definitely know what our BRZ is.
March 1, 2013
First it was the teenage boy in the church parking lot with the mop-like hair. "Dude, I like your car," he said. Then it was my wife's friend (a hair stylist with, I must admit, much better hair than the teenager) who came over to our house. "It's so cute!" she exclaimed, after seeing the 2013 Subaru BRZ in my driveway. Later that afternoon: My shirtless neighbor, washing his Tahoe, noted that the BRZ "looked pretty sharp."
It was three positive comments in one day for the BRZ. Not too shabby. Yet curiously, nobody actually knew what the BRZ was.
February 28, 2013
I love the window line on our 2013 Subaru BRZ. Aesthetically, the BRZ is one of my favorite designs on the market for new cars today. But seeing what's behind you when backing out of a parking spot can prove difficult.
February 14, 2013
Maybe this guy and his family of skulls are fans of 1970 cartoons, but that license plate would be perfect for our 2013 Subaru BRZ. Would you agree?
Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 10,962 miles
February 13, 2013
You can tow any car behind a motorhome if you use a trailer. But that's not the preferred method for motorhome aficionados. The ideal scenario is pictured above: a so-called "dinghy" vehicle rolling behind on its own four wheels, ready to be unhooked and driven around on side trips while the motorhome sits parked with its awnings unfurled and its sliders popped out in full relaxation mode.
This towing technique goes by many names: dinghy towing, flat towing and four-down towing to name a few. As you can imagine there are mechanical implications for the car involved.
The strictly pavement-only 2013 Subaru BRZ isn't the first sort of car that comes to mind for this activity but, then again, not everyone who tours the U.S. in a motorhome is looking to explore off road when they stop. You could be planning to tour the racetracks or interesting winding mountain roads of this country in your retirement. Why relegate yourself to something overly pedestrian?
Is the 2013 Subaru BRZ up for it? Can you flat tow it behind a motorhome?
January 02, 2013
If you read the last long-term update on our 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited, then you know we took it for a wet-weather run up Glendora Mountain Road. It proved, yet again, how terrific this little sports car truly is.
In retrospect, I kind of wish I had gotten on the mountain a bit earlier in the morning when it was still raining so the road would've been fully wet for the entire flogging session. But, maybe I would've encountered even more fog.
Regardless, enjoy photos of our rainy/foggy morning on GMR after the break.
December 31, 2012
I took our 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited to Glendora Mountain Road over the long holiday weekend. Of course, the one morning I had free for a strafing run on this fabulously twisty piece of tarmac, the surface was wet from the previous night's rain.
No matter, if anything it just made it more exciting.
Unfortunately, there were some thick blankets of fog to slow me down, but in general the BRZ and I had the road to ourselves. Rain keeps the cyclists and other motorists away.
I was thoroughly impressed with the precision and sports-car competence of the BRZ, as I kinda figured I would be. In the wet-to-drying conditions, the tires provided excellent and very consistent grip levels. You could really dive the car into corners hard, and the front would hang on pretty well before it would start to push.
November 30, 2012
One of the biggest disappointments with living in Los Angeles is the complete lack of weather. It's just so...boring. Except for late fall/early winter.
Starting sometime in late November, though, things start to get fun. Clouds roll over the mountains and water falls from the skies.
I saw the weather report and rushed for the keys to the BRZ. It's still got the stock tires unlike the FR-S and I'm assuming rain will make the BRZ the most fun car in the world. Lack of power only matters when you've got too much grip.This is the way I make long-term decisions.
Unfortunately, Riswick had it for the first few days of rain, but I've got it this weekend. Anyone know a good parking lot?
Mike Magrath, Features Editor
November 28, 2012
I went into the Thanksgiving holidays intending to take some kind of interesting drive in the 2013 Subaru BRZ, something in the spirit of Mark and Kurt's autocross day in the FR-S and Focus ST. Well, it didn't happen.
What did happen was an unplanned, two-and-a-half-hour drive to Corona, California. Corona is about 50 miles from my house. Our relatives had already eaten the turkey and stuffing when we arrived. This was one of those drives that makes you start thinking that an automatic-equipped BRZ isn't such a bad idea after all. Of course, I could never bring myself to buy this car with an automatic. But I'd understand if someone else did... well, I'd try to understand anyway.
So the clutch takeup in our long-term BRZ is not bad at all. It's still way easier to manage in traffic that sport compacts of a decade (or so) ago. And there's enough torque to hold 2nd gear until you drop below about 8 mph. The issue in traffic is that the clutch takes kind of a long time to engage, so if you're not deliberate with your left foot, you'll jostle your passengers around as you clumsily rush the 1-2, 2-3 upshifts. Fortunately, I had plenty of time to perfect my technique.
The seats were great during our drive (and during the part where we just sat). I never got uncomfortable. And the car was quiet enough for my taste, quiet enough for a sport compact, at least at the speeds we were traveling.
The audio system was kind of a bummer. None of the equalizer settings seems to make it easy to hear talk radio, and none of them make my music sound that great. Then again, I rarely listened to the radio in our 1985 Porsche 911 -- and like that car, the Subaru BRZ is not the kind of car you buy if you want to listen to the radio.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,917 miles
November 19, 2012
Dewdrops, fogging, condensation in your BRZ/FR-S taillights? You're not alone, and neither are we. Our longterm 2013 Subaru BRZ has teary taillights, too.
Subaru of America released a Service Bulletin for this issue -- 12-131-12. Seems the mounting bolts on early cars were overtightened, cracking the plastic mounting boss and allowing moisture in. Apparently the fix is simply to replace the taillight housing. So that's what we'll have the dealer do at the next visit.
FYI the updated taillight housings were introduced into production cars on 09May2012 starting with VIN D*601678.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
October 22, 2012
The view over the hood can often hint at (or loudly proclaim) a car's personality. A visual cue that lets you know, even if you're slogging through traffic, that your ride has some personality and performance. It could be a hood scoop (or scoops) that does it, such as the shaker on a second-generation Trans Am or the twin nostrils atop the hood of my '98 Mustang Cobra. Also effective are humps over the front wheels, as if the car's taut, athletic body simply wraps over them. It's a design cue I happen to dig that's seen rather exaggerated (but still cool) on a C3 Corvette, less so on an old Opel GT and as subtle but still effective blisters on the BRZ.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor
October 17, 2012
After my first opportunity to drive the BRZ and the Scion FR-S back to back, let me say that I have heard exhaust systems that are capable of making the Subaru flat-4 sound interesting, but the stock system in the BRZ is not one of them.
With my first spare dollar after making a monthly payment on the BR-Z, I would start saving for the Apexi RS Evolution Extreme Catback exhaust that transformed the Scion FR-S. Really, the very, very first dollar.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 5,979 miles
October 15, 2012
The BRZ and I made a trip into Orange County Friday. And it was there, in the parking lot next to a Shakey's Pizza Parlor, that I saw the BRZ's bright, bright sales future.
I was getting out of the car when a half-dozen twentysomething guys in jeans and football jerseys ambled out of the restaurant. They stopped dead. They looked at the car. They looked at me. They looked back at the car. And you could read their minds: What in the holy heck was I doing with the BRZ, the car of their dreams?
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @5,873 miles
October 04, 2012
Not sure why the BRZ trunk lid struts just now caught my attention. I must have half-expected to work around some gooseneck hinges while loading a few items into the trunk this morning. While not what you'd consider a premium feature, it's a good stroke of design and an appreciated effort to maximize that small space. With the price points both Subaru and Scion targeted, it would've been easy to skimp here and fudge the trunk numbers.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
October 02, 2012
The added grip provided by the new tires on our FR-S is certainly nice. So is the fact that they don't sound like a band of screaming Comanches around every corner. However, I would ultimately stick with the stock wheels as found on our BRZ. I would also stick with the stock tires, or at least something similar.
The reason? As is, the BRZ strikes an ideal balance (for me any way) of driver involvement, agility, comfort and road noise. The FR-S' bigger wheels and more performance-oriented rubber create more impact harshness and drown out the stereo, conversation and my own thoughts. If you were to attend a lot of track days, sure, get the wheels and tires. But, since I would almost certainly never do that, I'd stick with the stock wheels that actually look pretty cool and eventually switch to a tire that maintains similar comfort/quiet properties but doesn't squeal so readily. Besides, slipping around can actually be more fun anyways.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
October 01, 2012
There were two gray cars in my driveway on Sunday afternoon. Our Dark Gray long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ was on the left, and my husband's United Gray 2011 Volkswagen GTI was over there on the right.
On the surface, these cars have little in common. Rear-drive, front drive. Two doors, four doors. Coupe, hatchback. Tiny backseat, big backseat.
But for a big chunk of would-be BRZ/FR-S customers, I think the GTI could be one of the more compelling arguments against Toyobaru ownership.
Making an argument for the BRZ over that four-door GTI is easy, though. To start, it's rear-drive and you can shut off the stability control, so it's a good candidate for a track day right out of the box. The GTI? Not so much.
Even if you're just going to drive on back roads, the BRZ is the obvious choice. It has a better driving position with better sightlines, and quicker steering with loads more feel. And you can just tell getting into the car that it likes to change direction -- its responses to your inputs are satisfyingly immediate.
In contrast, the softer-tuned GTI is not that much fun on a back road, and I can't think of the last time my husband took it on one. But it's a quicker car, and the difference in commuter traffic is much wider than a comparison of 0-60 and quarter-mile times indicates. The VW has a lot more low-end grunt, and its 2.0 TSI engine serves it up ice-cream smooth, whereas you're going to work for it a bit with Subaru's naturally aspirated FA-series 2.0-liter.
Ride quality is also downright compliant in the VW, and even in this base model, materials quality is a couple levels up from the Subaru and, frankly, most other cars in this price range. The seats are cushy and roomy, and the cabin is pretty quiet. And thanks to the aforementioned backseat, we can take family and friends to dinner whenever we want.
Essentially, it's a choice between fun and convenience. The BRZ buyer still has the luxury of pushing certain realities off to the side, whereas maybe the GTI buyer does not. Oh, also $900. A base 2012 GTI 4-door stickers at $25,365. A base BRZ Premium (ours is a Limited) costs $26,265 in theory.
Which are your taking?
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 5,318 miles
September 19, 2012
The ground clearance on our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ isn't super low for a sports car, but it's low enough that you don't want to be pulling up too close when parking in spots with curbs or concrete blocks. Its front spoiler also sticks out a bit.
Obviously, the familiarity that comes with driving a car every day -- and thus knowing exactly where it begins and ends -- is the best way to avoid heartache in the parking lot. Lacking that familiarity, I've been parking the Subaru with a high level of caution... I just don't pull up that far in parking spaces. Usually, this works fine because the BRZ, at 166.7 inches long, fits in most spaces with room to spare.
But last night when picking up dinner, I encountered an on-site parking aid -- mirrored exterior glass on an adjacent storefront. I could see exactly how far to pull up in this space.
I think most owners will adjust quickly to parking the BRZ (and FR-S). Forward visibility is pretty good, the car itself isn't that large, and the vast majority of first- and second-year Toyobaru owners are going to be obsessively careful.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 4,890 miles
September 05, 2012
Among the many things I like about the BRZ is its low hood and the subsequent view out the windshield. Thanks to the low profile of the flat-4 engine, the BRZ provides a more expansive and engaging view of the road than what's typical for a sport coupe. The raised fenders are also cool as they help you place the car when cornering. Among the car's many other qualities, it just furthers my impressions that this is truly a driver's car.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
September 04, 2012
Monthly sales figures are out. If you're curious, here's how the BRZ and FR-S have been selling so far.
Subaru BRZ: 623 units sold in August 2012, with 2,210 sold total this year.
Scion FR-S: 1,913 units sold in August 2012, with 6,332 sold total this year.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor (in the BRZ @ 4,068 miles)
September 01, 2012
I took a few minutes to check out Subaru's website and the configurator for the BRZ. Just for funsies, you know. So I picked my trim (there are only two, Premium or Limited), picked my color and, well, that's it. I had forgotten that Subaru's going with a very streamlined approach for this car. I had previously written that this would be the car that Porsche would build it if built a $25,000 sports car. But I'm wrong. If it were a Porsche, it'd have inumerable options down to the color of the owner's manual case.
I'm conflicted. On one hand, I really like the simplicity of it all. Pick your color and you're done. But I kind of miss the fun of more personalization that comes about from cars like a Mini Cooper or even a Mustang. (And while there's a bit more for the Scion FR-S, it's not brimming with choices, either.)
What do you think?
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
August 28, 2012
We've had a few FR-S or BRZ posts or stories about these cars reminding us of previous cars. A few days ago Michael Jordan met up with an RX-7 engineer. Earlier Mark Takahashi noted the lineage of the Celica and Dan Frio thought of the 3 Series. We also had our FR-S and 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S feature comparison.
I guess you can't help but do this once you're seated in the BRZ or FR-S. I suspect it's because there just hasn't been a car out like this for so long. Personally, I've been thinking back to the times I drove a first-gen RX-7, various Miatas and a Porsche 944.
I really like our BRZ's light weight, willing engine, quick shifter and honest communication. And to quote Michael from his RX-7 post: "Not too big, not ambitious, but also not too expensive."
It's very nice to once again see an affordable hardtop sports car/sport coupe back on the market that prioritizes driver involvement.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
August 20, 2012
I was walking back to the 2013 Subaru BRZ where I had parked it on a side street in Venice when, as I approached it, I saw a man checking it out HARD. He was a 40-something, casually dressed in T-shirt and cargo shorts with a backpack hanging over one shoulder. Basically the uniform of Venice denizens. He slowly circled the BRZ, admiring it from the front, then round the back and peered in at its interior. If I had been closer to the car I would have offered him a seat to check out the cabin, as I tend to do to those curious about long-termers I drive. (Is that weird?)
Anyway, as he was walking away from the Subaru down the sidewalk, he still kept looking back at the car, like he just couldn't take his eyes off it. He hasn't been the first person mesmerized by the BRZ this weekend but definitely the one who admired it the longest.
Trying to think of what other cars that aren't exotics and are in the $25K range provoke that sort of reaction. Anyone?
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 3,408 miles
August 16, 2012
That is, if you consider $28,000 the province of poor.
But my first real seat time with the BRZ last night reminded me that the 3 Series shrink-wraps itself around you in the same way. How you spill your rump, ribs and flab into the seats and it all finds a crevice to occupy. Then the quick clutch engagement, and how easily you can summon the BRZ's exhaust tenor.
The gearbox is much more working-class than the 3's slick action, right down to the perceptible shudder when you slot into first gear before the signal changes. But it encourages crispy, deliberate shifts. It feels like you'd have to work hard to mis-shift it.
We recently tested a new 3 Series -- the 2.0-liter, no less -- that rang in around $50,000. Sure, you get plenty more for that premium: Nicer cabin, a useful rear seat, badge bravado, and something much better than the BRZ's dopey radio (small icons and push-screen shown above, characterized as such because most commands require repeated blunt trauma).
But the 3 Series still sets so many benchmarks for driver engagement that it feels like the Suyota developers planted themselves in one for many hours, searching for the same sounds and sensations, for half as much money.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
August 13, 2012
I decided to peruse the anonymous reader comments on my four blogs devoted to the BRZ last week. While these folks represent but a tiny fraction of our readership, I was picking up some general themes and figured I'd weigh in. It's Monday, I'm caffeinated, what the hell?
Many were in regards to my post about the Toyabaru's steering wheel. You see, someone at Toyota passed along a bit of information, I thought it was interesting. People interpreted my comments as follows: "If you have a steering wheel with buttons on it, you're not a real driver and your car is a pathetic automotive excuse best left for little girls." I wasn't saying that, so please unwedge your underwear. A Ferrari Italia has 800 buttons on its steering wheel, and I'd venture to say that's a real driver's car. (And by that I do NOT mean a car for real drivers, there is a difference). The BRZ's wheel is simple, uncluttered and its spokes are nicely small. It's refreshing, points to the car's focus and comes closest to a racing wheel in terms of design than anything I've come across in a new car. Now, that certainly doesn't mean that your car that has buttons on its steering wheel is any less special or that you're not a swell driver with lots of friends who's great with the ladies. OK?
Then there were anonymous commenters saying that we're liking the BRZ and FR-S too much. Well, there's an excellent reason for that: The BRZ and FR-S are actually that good! It's not some conspiracy. I'm not drinking Toyota-brewed Kool-Aid, nor do I have a history of bestowing great praise upon these two carmakers -- quite the opposite really. I've driven both cars now for hundreds of miles in a variety of conditions and consequently formed an opinion. The same can be said for other editors.
Now, for those commenters expecting some sort of perpetual Fair and Balanced, tit-for-tat Long-Term Blog, let me remind you that we have an entire YEAR for cons to be expressed. In these early days, though, the good is overwhelming the bad. That happens with good cars. Just because we haven't said something yet, doesn't mean something else won't come up later. So just it back, drink some tea and relax there, buddy.
Subaru and Toyota set out to create a car with a very honest, specific purpose that we as car fans can whole-heartedly get behind. The two companies then teamed up and triumphantly achieved that goal. If that's not worthy of praise, I don't know what is. Are they cars for everyone? No. Are there areas in need of improvement? Yes, and some have already been mentioned.
So there. You may now commence anonymous commenting.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
August 09, 2012
"That's a tight-ass-looking Subaru, man. I've never seen one of those before."
I got the impression that a lot of people shared this sentiment declared by a rather eloquent fellow at a gas station south of San Jose. He wasn't the only person giving the BRZ long looks at that Shell, or at the Santa Monica Chevron several hours earlier. In fact, the BRZ draws attention like few other cars can, and certainly like nothing else in its price ballpark.
So it would seem that this $26,000 exotic could get by on its looks alone, which is something I can't say about many Subarus (if any at all). Obviously it doesn't have to, though, as you've no doubt already read our many poetic waxings about the BRZ and its Scion FR-S sister. I'm certainly not immune to its charms, as I discovered with the FR-S. But those observations came from bombing around a few canyons and zipping around town. A road trip requires a completely different skill set, so the 2013 Lexus LS launch event in Palo Alto, Calif., would be a perfect excuse to see if the BRZ's appeal extends to the open road.
It would've been faster to take Interstate 5, but whereas that highway provides tractor trailers, laser-straight tedium and signs alerting you to the Congress Created Dust Bowl, the 101 boasts brilliant scenery, long sweeping turns and signs alerting you to myriad road-side attractions like the Carlton Hotel in Atascadero (pictured). True, you can't go as fast, but if you've got the time, it's the better drive. And after all, it's about the journey, man.
And the BRZ made it a better journey, just as interesting cars are apt to do. It should come as no surprise that the BRZ's handling talents were appreciated through those sweeping turns, while there is an inherent and constant coolness that comes from driving something small and sporty on a lengthy trip. The engine also impressed, as it was able to keep cruise-controlled pace in sixth gear over several medium-sized grades. And while some have complained about its noise, I kind of like its mean little growl when you dip into the throttle.
Yet such trips are ultimately about comfort and I'm pleased to report the BRZ did not disappoint. The ride is well damped and not once did I find myself rolling my eyes as I'm apt to do in cars that incessantly bob, crash and jiggle over less-than-perfect pavement. My fear of regretting my car choice somewhere near Ventura and suffer for six hours thereafter never came to pass.
At the same time, the BRZ once again amazed for its seat comfort and space. Small Toyotas and Subarus have not traditionally been comfortable for all 6-foot-3 of yours truly, yet the BRZ/FR-S provides lots of headroom (more than the new LS, actually) and sufficient space for my legs. I say sufficient since I could've used a bit more seat travel to stretch my right leg, but I only started to yearn for that as the hours wore on.
I was originally going to take the Jag up to Palo Alto, but I'm glad I ended up with the BRZ instead. It gave me a chance to fall even harder for these wonderful little Toyabaru twins, plus it was a wee bit more efficient than the XF Valdez. I'll let you know just how efficient when I wrap up my trip tomorrow with the return journey, this time on I-5.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
August 07, 2012
The new BRZ isn't Subaru's first sports car. How could you forget the mighty XT they had in the mid-'80s? Turbocharged! All-Wheel Drive! Fighter cockpit-style controls! Flip-up headlights! Ok, maybe dynamically it wasn't exactly an RX-7's rival. And it wasn't a lean, elemental sports machine like today's BRZ, but it was cool in its own way.
Over a quarter century after Subaru aired this commercial, its theme is still relevant. I can envision a modern dad expecting his kid to come home with an Impreza or Forester, only to see junior roll up in some sleek sports car that can't possibly be a Subaru.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor
August 03, 2012
Rear wings. Decklid spoilers. I've never been a fan of them. Sure, some cars might look a little better with one (1995 Mustangs), but the thought of tacking on something that generally has no performance enhancing qualities bugs me.
In some cases, those wings are actually detrimental to performance, causing drag without any appreciable downforce.
As far as wings go, the BRZ's isn't all that bad. In the absence of an actual rear undertray diffuser, tough, I doubt the wing does anything. I prefer the FR-S' cleaner lines. That little flip up on the trailing edge also reminds me of a 550/575 Maranello (but only very slightly). I'm really more thankful that Subaru didn't put some ridiculous STi-type monstrosity on top of the trunk. But you know some yahoo will put one on there someday. Ugh.
What do you think? Wings, or no?
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor
August 01, 2012
Come on, you knew this was coming.