The Subaru BRZ is a compact sports car with rear-wheel drive that shares most of the same underpinnings with the Scion FR-S, its brother. Even though it’s an unconventional addition to a typically all-wheel drive brand, the BRZ is one of the best economical sports cars on the market. Its focus on lightweight and direct handling make it a suitable contender against the Nissan 370Z and the Mazda Miata MX-5, and if you're pushing the limits of price, the Porsche Cayman.
Without question, the Subaru BRZ has proved to be a fun and capable car, even on the world's toughest circuits, earning itself a spot on the 2013 Best Car To Buy nominee list at our sister site, Motor Authority.
New for the 2013, the BRZ is offered in two different trim levels, and both the Limited and the Premium versions are sold with a choice of automatic or manual transmission. Both versions sport a new, direct-injected 200-hp, 2.0-liter naturally aspirated version of Subaru's horizontally opposed ('flat' or 'boxer') four, delivering its power through a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; the automatic includes downshift blipping control and steering-wheel paddles. Subaru claims one of the lowest centers of gravity of any production car in the world, and the firm suspension tuning, quick steering ratio, and standard Torsen limited-slip differential and summer performance tires should help maximize performance, while Subaru has worked to keep the BRZ as light as possible.
At just 50.6 inches high and about 166 inches long, the Subaru BRZ is a compact model—a point enforced by its short overhangs and flared fenders. The BRZ's 2+2 seating, with the tight cabin offering very tight rear perches, is barely usable for adults, if at all. Its trunk is quite spacious however, and the rear seatback folds forward.
The BRZ has already earned some of the best safety ratings among sports cars, with 'good' ratings in every test category from the IIHS, as well as Top Safety Pick status. It includes a four-channel ABS system, Brake Assist, and a five-mode driver-selectable stability cotnrol system. Side-curtain airbags and front pelvis and torso bags are also included. The structure itself builds on the automaker's Ring-Shaped Reinforcement Frame system that's proven—and has established a strong reputation for safety—in its other models.
Premium models include voice-activated navigation, satellite radio and HD Radio tuners, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, HID headlamps, and a Torsen limited-slip differential, while the Limited models get leather-and-Alcantara (faux suede) upholstery and heated seats plus dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, fog lamps, and a rear spoiler. There are no option packages for either model, though standalone choices include dealer-installed accessories such as additional trim or an auto-dimming mirror with garage-door opener.
This is the first year of the car's sale, and initial plans from Subaru say U.S. availability of the BRZ will be limited to just 6,000 units per year. The pent-up demand for a nimble, affordable sports car has met that supply aggressively, but the expected markups haven't materialized--perhaps in part due to the slightly less expensive Scion FR-S, the BRZ's doppelganger.