It’s nearly impossible to describe the 2013 Subaru BRZ in a single word. It’s sleek. It’s nimble. It’s engaging. It’s so many things distilled down into one car. It’s “pure”. After Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru was kind enough to lend me a 2013 Subaru BRZ for a weekend to drive and enjoy, I kept coming back to how clearly the car communicated with me as a driver, how gleefully the engine responded to a prod from my right foot, and how well it handled turn after turn as it asked me to take the long way home. This slick little coupe has purity down to a science.
While there’s no hiding the BRZ’s sporty pretensions, it’s not actually as compromised as you might think. You’ll feel every bump and undulation on the road through the tight suspension but it doesn’t beat you up like some cars would. The standard navigation system does just as good of a job of guiding you on your daily commute as it does helping you find twisty back roads. Although the stereo sounds great and offers everything from CD and radio to a USB port and Bluetooth phone pairing, the cabin is quiet enough to make conversation easy. There’s even a tube that passes between the cabin and the engine compartment that opens up to let you hear the direct injected 2.0 liter Boxer 4-cylinder sing when you want it to. The rear seats offer enough space for young children while also folding down to facilitate trips to Costco or Ikea. I surprised even myself when I managed to fit a large TV stand in the back of the BRZ with the rear seats folded down!
Now, before I go too much farther, I should explain that I am a bit of a Subaru fan-boy having purchased a 2013 Subaru WRX hatchback last year. I should also point out that in terms of sheer practicality and year round use, my WRX is probably a better fit for me than the BRZ would be. But after returning the BRZ to Morrie’s and picking up my WRX again, my car felt like tractor by comparison, albeit a very fast tractor. The BRZ is just gives back so much more feedback through the steering wheel. In fact, all of the controls – from the steering wheel, to the pedals, to the shift lever – are all perfectly placed to offer the driver a perfect position from which to pilot the BRZ like a pro. While I’d prefer a heavier clutch pedal, the light springiness of the clutch in the BRZ is much easier to deal with in stop and go traffic. The steering is both beautifully weighted and also full of feel. What left me most impressed, however, was how firm and confidence inspiring the brake pedal was.
If there was one area in which the BRZ feels like it’s lacking something, it’s in the power department. While the BRZ never really feels particularly slow, it’s not quite as fast as its looks would imply. Unlike the turbocharged engine in my WRX, peak power (200 bhp at 7,000 RPM) and peak torque (151 lb-ft at 6,400 RPM) aren’t reached until higher up in the revs which means that the BRZ feels a bit sluggish during normal city driving. In traffic, lane changes need a little extra planning but once you down shift a few gears and get the engine spinning above 4,000 RPM, the car comes alive and is both willing and able to be pushed. Best of all, you can actually keep your fit down all the way to the red line before shifting and you won’t have to worry about the police hauling you off to jail.The BRZ is enjoyable even at normal speeds!
Part of what allows the BRZ to feel so focused and engaging to drive is its relatively low weight. Tipping the scales at a lithe 2775 lbs, the BRZ always feels light on its feet. That being said, the BRZ feels incredibly solid and well planted. When driving, there’s never a thought of the car feeling cheap or flimsy. While $28,265 for the 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited that I tested may seem like a lot of money for such a small car, it’s hard to find another sporty car on the market – aside from its Scion FR-S twin – that are as driver focused as this car. It even gets respectable gas mileage at 22 MPG city/ 30 MPG highway. Where the BRZ really shines however is when it comes to smiles per mile. It’s been a few days since I regretfully gave the keys back to the sales person at Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru but I still haven’t wiped the smile off of my face!
Alex Bellus is a well-known automotive photographer in the Twin Cities area and a frequent attendee of MN C&C at the Automotorplex. He is an Automotive Analyst for IHS Automotive and has a wide range of automotive knowledge. Keep your eye out for his next Blog Post where he will highlight another popular new vehicle!