2013 Subaru BRZ: No Matter What Anyone Says, These Are the Best Times
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.
Besides that, I'm acclimated to the BRZ's six-speed manual gearbox now, and I really enjoy the mechanical feel of each gear change. You're not going to run through the gears lightning-quick (at least, I'm not), but this is one of those cars that makes you feel smart and skillful when you rip off a smooth upshift or nail a rev-matched downshift.
Driving the Subaru in heavy, heavy traffic is not that enjoyable (only in a Prius or EV does severe traffic bring anything resembling delight), but in light-to-moderate traffic with regular slowing, I seize the opportunity to do some heel-and-toe downshifting. When I finally find room in my schedule for a good road with good curves, I'll be ready.
Erin Riches, Senior @ 8,631 miles