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2013 Subaru BRZ Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Subaru, Test Drives

The all-new Subaru BRZ expands on the joint venture between Toyota and Subaru for their well-perceived and affordable compact sports coupe. Having virtually the same driving characteristics and over-all design, the new Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S reintroduce the fun-factor wrapped up in an affordable package with only subtle difference between the two.

Having spent time in the new 2013 Scion FR-S months ago, it is only fair to first point out the obvious differences when compared to the new 2013 Subaru BRZ. Having the same drivetrain, basic body structure and interior, the two vehicles depart on their styling mainly in the front facia air-dam area. Another difference enthusiasts are so quick to point out would be the standard HID headlights and navigation system on the Subaru BRZ, which only slightly adds to the bottom-line price.

The new 2013 Subaru BRZ remains to be an alternative offering to that of the new Scion FR-S where some marketing strategy difference have taken root, especially when you consider how Scion is known to be a focused youth brand from Toyota. The Subaru BRZ, being the first rear-wheel-drive only vehicle from the automaker, easily finds its path to successful sales due to its extremely low center of gravity, sharp handing attributes, good looks and over-all sporty aptitude on just about any paved road.

My new 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium test vehicle did not include any additional options (as found on the Limited trim), so it was equipped with the driver-focused 6-speed manual transmission. In my opinion this is the only way to get the new BRZ. Though, a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is offered for an additional $1,100 for those who don’t feel the need to row their own gears.

Just like the new 2013 Scion FR-S, the new Subaru BRZ is a capable platform to build off of for the average tuner. Not only that, but in stock form the BRZ sports the lowest center of gravity of any current production vehicle while putting forward a sporty aptitude in its handling dynamics and body stability on the road and track.

Power output from the 2.0-liter flat 4-cylinder (horizontally opposed 4 cylinder engine) has somewhat of a distinctive sound while it pumps out 200 horsepower at a relatively high 7000 rpm and dishes out just 151 pound-feet of torque at an almost equally high 6600 rpm. Staying consistent with just about every other car review on the new BRZ, I wholeheartedly agree that it could use more power. Of course if you really love what the BRZ has to offer in its sharp handling, sporty styling and low priced package, you will respect its undeniably fun driving and sharp handling characteristics. The steering rack, at times, feels almost as sharp as some exotic Italian vehicles. Still, power output, predictable at best, is a long shot from firmly pinning you in the sport seats.

Inside of the new 2013 Subaru BRZ it is difficult to find many differences from its FR-S sibling. Although, a few items remain to be different such as the background color/pattern of the gauge cluster and the navigation system only offered on the BRZ. Just about everything else remains the same, which is still a good thing considering how well the sporty front seats are form-fitting to your body with just the right amount of bolstering. The rear seat area remains to be somewhat of a novelty as you can barely fit two toddlers in the back, let alone a teen to adult-aged person. The 2+2 seating configuration is certainly something to ponder, considering its small size, if you have any kids and the BRZ would be your main form of transportation.

Good quality interior materials are what we have all grown to expect from Toyota and Subaru. The fit and finish is good, but not excellent. Sitting in the height-adjustable driver’s seat puts you in an excellent position to really get a feel for the BRZ’s dynamics. Having a conservative power-out level along with a sturdy and well-planted chassis really gives the driver the confidence needed to be among the best on an autocross course in the BRZ.

Even though the new 2013 Subaru BRZ is a far cry from its WRX sister in terms of power output, it is one of the best driver’s cars available on the current automotive market for such a low price range. The new Subaru BRZ’s true race-inspired feeling is translated into a language that novice and professional drivers can all appreciate. That says a lot about the engineering and design put into a vehicle starting at just $25,495.

In tests, the 2013 Subaru BRZ does not disappoint much on paper for its performance abilities. The BRZ brakes from 60 mph to a stop in 114 feet and holds a respectable 0.90 g of lateral acceleration. You may expect to get an even better lateral g accel number with tires superior to the standard Michelin Primacy HPs, which is probably not hard to do considering these tires are found on the Toyota Prius. The BRZ only gets 17-inch wheels wrapped in these grip-lacking efficiency-rated tires. Of course with such tires, fuel consumption figures for the BRZ automatic transmission reach 34 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg city. My 2013 BRZ test vehicle with the 6-speed manual transmission will get just 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

Quarter mile time for the new 2013 BRZ has been record at 14.9 seconds at 95.5 mph -not too bad for a modest rear-wheel-drive Subaru with 200 horsepower at 2,700 pounds. The 2.0-liter flat-4 is a decent engine with direct-injection during mid to high-speeds and conventional injection at lower speeds – all thanks to the joint engine-tech developments from both Toyota and Subaru. The potential of the Boxer engine is evident in the full line of Subaru vehicles, which does not surprise us to know that a performance version of the BRZ, a BRZ STi, is expected sometime next year where we expect to get more than 200 ponies out of such a great sports car foundation.

Enthusiasts without a large budget can now obtain an affordable rear-wheel-drive sports coupe from automakers who know the sport compact business very well. The new 2013 Subaru BRZ looks to have a very long and successful life in the enthusiast world.

Copyright: 2012


  • Price: Base BRZ Premium (manual transmission) $25,495.00
  • Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve Boxer/Flat (horizontally opposed) 4-cylinder 200 horsepower @ 7000 rpm / 151 ft-lbs. @ 6600 rpm
  • Track: f/r-59.8/60.6in.
  • Wheelbase: 101.2in.
  • Height: 50.6in.
  • Headroom: f/r-37/35in.
  • Legroom: f/r-41.9/29.9in.
  • Cargo volume: 6.9cu.ft.
  • Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
  • 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 22 mpg/city, 30 mpg/highway

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