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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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 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 8, 2013
Recently editor Travis Langness wrote an update on our 2013 Subaru BRZ noting how he took the car to some local back roads to truly enjoy it after suffering in typical Los Angeles traffic. I totally get that, thinking back to when I took the BRZ on some of my favorite driving roads last year.
Still, I would add a counterpoint: In cities not as congested as L.A. (and with not as poor of roads), the BRZ can still be a lot of fun.
February 27, 2013
Taking the Subaru BRZ home on crowded streets, sitting in L.A. traffic and waiting for the lights to change is not my idea of fun. So instead, I decided to take a romp in our local back roads after work and see what the BRZ was like in the mountains.
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 28, 2013
Finally, I carved out some time to drive our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ on a good road. It was a late-hour decision, as you can see in the photo, so only my husband went with me. Our drive took us down some of our favorite roads in the San Gabriel Mountains. It was a mini celebration of six months of marital bliss. Then, we went out for sushi.
The BRZ is the most entertaining car I've driven on these roads since our long-term Mazdaspeed 3 left. I know, I've previously said our Ford Focus ST is great fun, and it really is, but there's something about the BRZ that makes me enjoy it just a little bit more. I think it's probably a combination of the Subaru's seating position, which is just spot-on for a 5-foot-10-inch, 150-pound adult, and this small coupe's lightweight, unencumbered feel.
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.
Back to All Long-Term Vehicles
January 10, 2013
The BRZ's shift action is not what you'd call greasy. It's not buttery, slick, slippery or any other of a handful of adjectives you might use to describe, say, one of Acura's better manual gearboxes. Instead, the throws are chunky, deliberate, notchy, agricultural, or any of a handful of adjectives that describe a transmission that's not offensive in any way, but one you can't quite call refined.
I've only had the opportunity to drive a couple of WRXs, neither of them stock. So I was curious to hear from our in-house Subie guru Rex Torres if this shift characteristic was shared across the family. He agreed that it was, saying that his own WRX exhibited the same feel. Then he urged me to drive the FR-S, saying that something — bushings, linkage, special sauce maybe — feels different in the FR-S.
So I'm taking it tonight to find out.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 9,500 miles
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.
December 27, 2012
There's something about hopping in a good sports car to extinguish any problems from your mind. That's what happened as I drove the 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited home last night. And yep, even though we've had it since July, this was actually my first time driving it.
Like the Scion FR-S, it's fantastic. It's got the right stuff, as Dan Gurney used to say about the second-gen Toyota Supra. I know Gurney was right, because I owned one.
The BRZ is light on its feet, has direct steering, a positive-shifting manual gearbox, supportive seats and a nice steering wheel. And yes, there's just enough power. Sure, you have to downshift sometimes on the highway to make a strong pass. But it's a sports car...you're supposed to shift it. And like it.
If you get in the BRZ and you're not immediately excited to be driving, there's something wrong with you. I mean anytime, even slithering around clogged freeway traffic.
In a world that sometimes seems like it's gone crazy, the Subaru BRZ stands as something that's so very right, so very good and so utterly fun.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 8,740 miles
December 20, 2012
Sometimes it's easy to find fault with the cars you can buy in 2012, as "features" like computer-controlled throttles, electric power steering and increasingly less defeatable stability control systems override more and more of the driver's authority from the cockpit. And that is why you are required to feel at least a little bit happy about a car like the 2013 Subaru BRZ.
Even in its stock, pre-turbocharged, no-quicker-that-a-Mini-Cooper-S form, the BRZ is a fun car to drive to work. It has quick steering with good feel, a really nice brake pedal feel with immediate bite, and a superbly tuned chassis that permits very little body roll around corners but doesn't slam the door on compliance. So, traffic permitting, left turns and curvy entrance ramps can be taken with gusto, but the suspension calibration's not so stiff you'll be unhappy once you're on the freeway. It's not that loud, either. ("The BRZ's quieter than your WRX," I tell my spouse, "mainly because it doesn't have all that driveline noise." Someday we'll settle this with a sound meter.)
Honestly, cars that toe the control-comfort balance this deftly don't come around every day. There's the Miata, I suppose, but I've never driven a Miata with this much room in its cockpit. My old 240SX (S14 and totally stock) offered a similar package, but its ride was harsher, its steering less precise and its seating position much farther from optimal.
December 03, 2012
Craptastic Prius tires.
Slick California Roads.
James Riswick, Very Much Amused @ 7,958 miles
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 22, 2012
The main dynamic differences between the 2013 Subaru BRZ and the FR-S lie in their ride and handling. I prefer the BRZ's ride and the FR-S' handling. The FR-S is sprung slightly softer in the front and stiffer in the rear. It rides a little busily in the rear as a result, a slight bobble, like it's a shade underdamped. Or something. It's not as settled or resolved as the BRZ's ride, which has a more familiar gait. Subaru's ride tuning is better.
But the FR-S' more tail-lively handling better suits the car, especially at stock power. Also, its softer front end gives the steering a more natural feel than the BRZ. It's a difference you can notice when you've got one car of each flavor readily at hand, as we do.
Really though, these differences are nuance-y, and I always look forward to driving either one. Pragmatic aspects like feature content, price, availability and dealer access are more likely to sway a decision toward one car or the other. That, and brand loyalty.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
November 21, 2012
Chris' post a few days ago about the FR-S and his Ducati plus the subsequent commentary made me think about similar thoughts I've had about IL's BRZ/FR-S twins and my own car (2008 Corvette). Some people wrote they wouldn't buy a BRZ/FR-S because it's not practical enough. Fair enough, I suppose. But if you were unwise enough to buy a Corvette and then subsequently add two kids into your life, a BRZ and its backseat (however small) might actually seem like a practicality upgrade.
Oh, and the typical transaction price of a used '08 Vette coupe compared to a BRZ? Pretty much the same as both are in the $25,000 to $30,000 range.
I did profess my love of the FR-S recently in this post. And the thought of replacing the Corvette with something with a backseat has definitely entered my mind a few times. I suspect nobody is going to be cross-shopping used Corvettes with new BRZs, though it is interesting for me to compare the two.
Both are really fun to drive, though for very different reasons. The BRZ definitely feels like the more proper driver's car. It's light and super communicative. I thoroughly enjoyed driving it on one of my favorite routes a couple months ago. Yes, its limits are modest, but that's sort of the point. It's a Porsche Cayman on a budget.
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
August 30, 2012
Summer's almost done. A few months from now a lot of great driving roads will be covered with rain and snow and grit. Best get a move on then. Live a little. Put down the Xbox controller and the Starbucks Lime Refresher. Pick out a route on a map, or Google Maps even. Requirement: minimal amount of straight lines. Now go drive.