Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Light and well-balanced chassis
- excellent steering
- high fuel economy
- comfortable and spacious front seat
- abundant standard features
- distinctive styling.
- Small backseat and trunk
- frustrating audio controls
- relatively modest acceleration.
The hype accompanying the 2013 Subaru BRZ was deafening, but this fun little coupe is definitely worth the noise.
After nearly four years of development and plenty of concepts, prototypes and hype, the 2013 Subaru BRZ has finally arrived. Unlike so many things in life, this compact sport coupe was actually well worth the wait. With its superb chassis, communicative steering and light curb weight, the BRZ proves that you don't need a ton of power to have a ton of fun.
It also proves that this quirky Japanese car brand isn't a slave to tradition. Every Subaru made since 1997 has had all-wheel drive, while almost all of its performance models sold in America have been turbocharged. The BRZ, however, features a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter flat-4 engine that sends 200 horsepower to the rear wheels only. This layout, and indeed the entire car, is the result of the BRZ being developed in partnership with Toyota, which sells the mostly identical Scion FR-S.
Most importantly, this layout is the key to the car's inherently excellent handling dynamics. Without having to incorporate all-wheel drive, Subaru's engineers were able to locate the engine farther back in its bay than in other Subarus, while the flat-4 design means it's placed much lower than in typical coupes. This adds up to a brilliantly balanced car with a lower center of gravity. Add in wonderfully communicative steering and the car's low 2,700-pound curb weight, and you get one of the most rewarding cars to drive in any price range.
Now, the BRZ certainly is not slow, but doesn't boast the same sort of neck-snapping power as similarly priced sporty cars like its Subaru WRX sibling. Backseat and cargo space are also lacking, even compared to coupes like the Ford Mustang and Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Therefore, if practicality or racing away from traffic lights are priorities, the 2013 Subaru BRZ probably isn't for you. However, it should be very appealing to those who value impeccable car control and communication in a small, affordable package with an impressive number of standard features.
2013 Subaru BRZ models
The 2013 Subaru BRZ is a four-seat compact coupe available in two trims. The Premium model comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, summer tires, a limited-slip rear differential, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat and a fold-down rear seatback. Electronic features include a touchscreen interface, a navigation system, voice controls, real-time traffic, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, hands-free text messaging, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The BRZ Limited trim adds foglamps, a rear spoiler, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, faux-suede and leather upholstery, and an All-Weather package that includes heated front seats and heated mirrors.
Performance & mpg
The 2013 BRZ is rear-wheel drive and features a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engine that produces 200 hp and 151 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic with steering wheel shift paddles and rev-matched downshifts is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped BRZ went from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. The automatic BRZ did it in 7.9 seconds. These are slow compared to most other small, sporty cars, especially the automatic time. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the manual and an excellent 25/34/28 with the automatic.
Standard safety equipment on the 2013 Subaru BRZ includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control (with five different levels of possible intervention), front side airbags and side curtain airbags.
In Edmunds brake testing, the BRZ came to a stop from 60 mph in 114 feet -- a short distance, but expected for a car with summer tires.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety the BRZ received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
If you're the sort of driver whose car must be able to hammer down freeway on-ramps with its tires ablaze, the 2013 Subaru BRZ is not for you. Its power is sufficient and nothing more. Instead, the BRZ is for those who get a thrill from going around corners and feeling all the nuances and inputs that go along with a car that offers phenomenal communication and impeccable control.
Its limits are approachable and easily controlled, which makes for a wonderfully engaging sports car. The brakes don't fade, the gearbox is a pleasure to shift and the chassis remains composed even when the road surface doesn't. The steering imparts the front tires' grip status precisely to the driver's hands, and even the available automatic transmission is programmed for enthusiastic driving.
Away from twisty roads and used for more mundane moments -- say, on the way to work or on a road trip -- this little Subaru is still rewarding. It's surprisingly easy to drive and the ride is sufficiently well damped. However, there is a fair amount of road noise that is especially evident on concrete-surfaced freeways.
The BRZ has a simple, pleasantly styled cabin that features a blending of Toyota and Subaru switchgear and materials. It will feel a bit spartan compared to some other sporty cars in its price range like the VW GTI, but then this is supposed to be a back-to-basics sort of driver's car.
There's no shortage of features, however, as even the base model is loaded with high-tech items like navigation, HD radio and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. Unfortunately, those particular features are controlled by a standard touchscreen interface that's difficult to use. The menu layout requires a lot of back-and-forth commands and the small virtual buttons are tough to press on the first try. Not helping matters is that there are no audio controls on the steering wheel. As such, you'll spend a lot of time taking your eyes off the road to fiddle with the controls. Just for this reason alone, the FR-S and its more traditional sound system design is pretty tempting.
The BRZ's front seats are supportive enough for hard driving, yet still comfortable for long-distance trips as well. People of just about any size should find the driving position to be quite agreeable, and thanks to the low-profile hood, there's an expansive view of the road ahead.
There's a backseat, too, but few adults are likely to want to sit back there. Legroom is next to nil, your head will be perilously close to the rear glass (or entirely pressed against it) and the center tunnel impedes hiproom. Trunk space is also rather small at 6.9 cubic feet, but folding down that mostly useless backseat expands cargo-carrying abilities considerably.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
More About This Model
It's cold, gray and damp at Subaru's proving grounds about an hour north of Tokyo. Perfect weather for wringing out an all-wheel-drive WRX maybe, but today we're behind the wheel of the new 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe. Lighter, less powerful and rear-wheel drive, the BRZ promises something very different from Subaru's bigger and heavier Impreza-based sedans.
As on most test tracks, there are various rules we were asked to follow. No more than 100 mph on the oval, no more than a few laps on the infield handling course, the usual preservationist restrictions. It's not surprising given there are only two U.S.-spec cars on hand, one a six-speed manual, the other a six-speed automatic, and there are no spares around if someone detours into the weeds.
We try not to think about that as we accelerate onto the straightaway with the gas pedal pinned to the floor. Sure, there are rules, but we've been waiting to drive this car for a couple years now and we're not about to leave until we see if the 2013 Subaru BRZ lives up to the hype.
Yep, It'll Spin the Tires
A firm yank of the shifter into 2nd gear and the BRZ lays a small stripe with a chirp. There may only be a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder under the aluminum hood, but it definitely has some kick. In fact, the all-new flat-4, or "FA" engine as Subaru calls it, can deliver nearly all of its 150 pound-feet of torque at just 2,800 rpm.
It's only a momentary burst of torque, though, as it falls off a bit before rising again at 4,800 rpm. It then peaks at 6,300 rpm and stays flat right through 7,000 rpm. That's where the 200-horsepower peak sits, too, and the redline is another 400 rpm after that.
Building speed down the straight, the engine spins smoothly but sounds gravelly. Even with a sound-induction tube plumbed into the cabin for added effect, the 2013 Subaru BRZ isn't going to win over any converts with the noises it makes.
When we snap the gearbox into 3rd there's yet another chirp from the tires. There's no doubt about it now, the BRZ gets its power to the ground very efficiently. Subaru says it uses more than 400 different variations of high-strength steel in the body of the BRZ to give it plenty of rigidity while keeping the curb weight in check. The result is a BRZ that came in under its target weight at 2,690 pounds according to Subaru. That's about 100 pounds less than a Honda Civic Si, and it feels like it, too.
Two Great Transmissions
After a few laps at varying speeds, the biggest eye-opener is the BRZ's new six-speed manual gearbox. Compared to the rubbery vagueness of the shifters in the WRX and WRX STI, the BRZ's Aisin unit feels far more precise. We have no trouble finding the gates and it moves with a mechanical feel that makes ripping gears in the BRZ more satisfying than any Subaru we've ever driven.
We swap into the automatic car for a few laps and it's shockingly good, too. It's a conventional automatic with paddle shifters and two driving modes. We leave it in Sport and watch as the tachometer swings right to redline and then shifts with an instantaneous pop. There's probably a dual-clutch setup out there that's faster, but not by much.
Under hard braking it pulls off rev-matched downshifts, too, sometimes dropping more than one gear at a time. And in manual mode it'll let you bounce off the rev limiter all day without slapping your hand by upshifting for you. Other than the plastic shift paddles, there's little room for improvement.
The Big Test
Throughout our introduction to the car, Subaru officials insisted that everything in the BRZ was geared toward making it handle well. This meant getting the engine mounted as low and as far back in the chassis as possible to drop the BRZ's center of gravity.
To get there they first designed the engine to be as shallow as possible from front to back so it could nestle up to the firewall tightly. Then they flipped the lower control arms of the MacPherson strut front suspension used in the Impreza to open up even more room down low. They also moved the electric steering box from the rack to the top of the column to get it out of the way. Even the battery was relocated to a space behind the strut towers to get its weight farther back in the chassis.
To see how it all feels, we dive down into the tight infield handling course for a few laps. After the first dozen turns or so, the most obvious handling trait is the BRZ's buttoned-down chassis. It doesn't dive under braking and barely tilts when we turn. It feels much more tightly wound than the WRX, which has plenty of give to it before it really starts to dig in.
The steering is also noticeably quick. There's instant response off center and never any sense that the electric-assist system is falling behind. With the stability control turned completely off (just hold the button for 3 seconds) the BRZ understeers just a little bit before starting to swing its tail out.
Absolute road feel is the biggest drawback here, as it's hard to get a good sense what the tires are really doing. The tires themselves are 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HPs, which are certainly not overly big or sticky. We asked Hiroyuki Nakada, chassis engineer for the 2013 Subaru BRZ, why they didn't use more aggressive tires similar to those on the WRX. He said the BRZ's low weight means it doesn't rely on grip as much as heavier cars like the WRX, so it simply doesn't need that much rubber on the road. That said, he also mentioned that the Primacy tires deliver better mileage and comfort, so there's obviously some room for improvement here.
It's the same story with the brakes. They're not overly large and use only two-piston calipers in front and single pistons in back. On paper they're not very aggressive, but when we get into them hard from around 100 mph they bite just fine and have little trouble stopping the BRZ.
It's Easy To Overlook the Rest of the Car
With hardly enough time to get a sense of the BRZ on the track, we barely even notice the interior, mostly because it's a very straightforward setup with few options. There are two trim levels — Premium and Limited — and both get a fairly extensive list of features.
There's a standard navigation system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HID headlights and a limited slip on all Premium models, while the Limited adds leather seats with Alcantara trim, auto climate control, seat heaters, push-button start and the all-important foglights.
Yes, there are backseats and no, they are not very comfortable. Subaru went to great lengths to open up the interior space but there just isn't much room to work with. It's a smaller car than you think, with a wheelbase of just 101 inches. The fact that there's still a trunk with 6.9 cubic feet of usable space is a pretty remarkable piece of packaging.
This 2013 Subaru BRZ is not for lightweights. Anyone who picks one up merely because it's nice-looking and gets decent mileage (estimated 30 mpg highway) will likely end up hating it. The ride is too stiff, the engine is too noisy and the tires are too loud. In other words, this is a car for true enthusiasts.
Granted, it's not terribly fast and probably won't lay down eye-popping track numbers, but it gets the basics right. A lively, predictable chassis, plenty of usable power and two different transmissions that both work exactly the way they should. Not to mention fully defeatable stability and traction control.
Subaru hasn't said exactly how much it expects enthusiasts to pay for the BRZ, but officials have hinted that it will fall closely in line with the pricing of the Impreza WRX. That means a base price of around $25,000 when the BRZ goes on sale in May of next year. Expect to see them clogging up track days all over the country by the end of the summer.
Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe Overview
The Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe is offered in the following styles: Limited 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Limited 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Premium 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M), and Premium 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6A). Pre-owned Subaru BRZ Coupe models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 200 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual, 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe?
Price comparisons for Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe trim styles:
- The Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe Limited is priced between $19,995 and$27,990 with odometer readings between 8147 and73120 miles.
- The Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe Premium is priced between $23,990 and$24,990 with odometer readings between 12429 and30361 miles.
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Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe Listings and Inventory
There are currently 12 used and CPO 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $19,995 and mileage as low as 8147 miles. Simply research the type of used car you're interested in and then select a prew-owned vehicle from our massive database to find cheap used cars for sale near you. Once you have identified a used or CPO vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2013 Subaru BRZ Coupe.
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Find a used Subaru BRZ for sale - 8 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $13,758.
Find a used Subaru for sale - 9 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $10,099.
Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru BRZ for sale - 8 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $24,576.
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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Subaru BRZ?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.