July 31, 2012
We knew what we wanted to do with the Toyobaru twins (the 2013 Subaru BRZ and 2013 Scion FR-S) the second they were announced. And now, with the arrival of our new 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited, our plan is finally taking shape.
Our Scion FR-S is destined for endless weekends of wrenching, dyno testing and still more wrenching in a quest to extract every last drop of performance from its rear-wheel-drive chassis.
And our BRZ? It will get nothing and like it. Well, we'll add some oil here and there and whatever other maintenance it requires over the course of a year. Apart from that, however, it will remain bone stock.
We'll concentrate on whether its 200-horsepower flat-4 makes the grade in day-in and day-out driving. Unlike much of our testing, which requires extensive exploration of the local mountains, this BRZ will likely spend much of its life commuting, shopping and otherwise being used like a typical Subaru. In the end, it might have a rougher life than the FR-S. We'll see.
What We Got
Mechanically, our new 2013 Subaru BRZ is nearly identical to our 2013 Scion FR-S. This means our Subaru has the same 2.0-liter flat-4 with port and direct fuel injection that's good for 200 hp and 151 pound-feet of torque. While a six-speed automatic transmission is available, as with our FR-S we opted for the six-speed manual. Our BRZ also has a Torsen limited-slip differential, sport-tuned suspension and Michelin Primacy HP tires sized 215/45R17 at each corner just like our Scion.
Unlike our FR-S, which is available only in "Base" trim, we got the top-of-the-line BRZ. Subaru calls this the "Limited" and it costs $2,000 more than the "Premium" model which already includes Bluetooth, USB inputs, HD radio and navigation. For your 2 Gs you get keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, faux suede and leather interior trim, heated front seats and heated mirrors. It still doesn't include steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. In these cars, the wheel is for steering; it's not simply a place to hang your hands until you get to work.
Our 2013 Scion FR-S is a stripper and carries a sticker price of $24,930, while this loaded Subaru BRZ carries a heavier $28,265 price. While we paid for our Scion, Subaru provided this BRZ for the purpose of this test.
Why We Got It
The 2013 Subaru BRZ (and its mechanical twin, the Scion FR-S) represent a new era in small, light, rear-drive performance, and this means different things to different groups of people. On the one hand you've got the tuner crowd. The minute it hits their driveway, they're thinking about upgrading the wheels, tires, suspension and engine as soon as they can. We're down with this mentally and so, back in June, we bought a 2013 Scion FR-S with the intention of modifying it to see exactly what this little car was capable of.
Tuning, however, isn't everybody's bag, and the twins represent a return to simple, easy-to-drive cars that are rewarding beyond their numbers. That's why some owners aren't going to touch a thing. They're not going to ruin the ride in the hopes of more Gs. They're not going to ruin the in-cabin noise levels in hopes of gaining a tenth here or there. They just want a basic sports car that does extraordinary things when called upon.
This test is for them. We'll be leaving our BRZ alone for the duration of this test. If it needs tires, we're likely to replace them with similar ones and not super-sticky rubber — that's what the FR-S is for.
When we first tested the 2013 Subaru BRZ, illuminated by the experience we said, "Perhaps there's a lesson here. If this is all that's required to make a sports car with elegant control, engaging feedback and enlightening limits, we have only one question: Why isn't every manufacturer doing it?"
Will we still feel this way after a year without real power, without adjustable suspension, without the creature comforts that dominate the automotive landscape today? Without the current mantra of "more, more, more!"?
We've been impressed with the Subaru BRZ each time we've driven it. Now we've got 12 months and 20,000 miles to see if that feeling holds up when the BRZ is put to the test of being a daily driver. Follow along with our Long-Term Road Test blog for more on our 2013 Subaru BRZ.
Current Odometer: 1,679
Best Fuel Economy: 32.5
Worst Fuel Economy: 22.6
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 28.1
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.