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Edmunds Full-Test - 2013 Subaru BRZ RWD coupe

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Old 03-23-2012, 12:47 PM   #1
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Default Edmunds Full-Test - 2013 Subaru BRZ RWD coupe

Worthy of the Hype

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There's body roll, but it doesn't detract from the experience.

By Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor | Published Mar 23, 2012

Distill the comprehensive goodness of the 2013 Subaru BRZ down to a single desirable property and it is this: Profound control.

It is the rear-drive BRZ's competence in those pivotal split seconds as the limit of grip approaches and departs that gives it undeniably enticing character. Few cars in recent memory do it so well and those that do typically cost at least twice as much. Think Lotus Exige/Elise or Porsche 911 GT3. In other words, the BRZ offers a level of engagement that, until now, has been either too costly or too impractical for the average enthusiast.

That will change with the introduction of the BRZ to the U.S. First, with an estimated price in the mid-$20,000 range, it's not costly. Second, it's practical enough to be driven daily. And, finally, it fills a niche in the U.S. market that has remained conspicuously vacant for years.

Filling the Niche

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Balancing the BRZ's steering and throttle is easy. And fun.

It's not just the BRZ's communication and control that's alluring, however. Its approachable limits are what make it a wholly engaging sports car. Go on the attack in a BRZ and you're not flirting with a $120,000 disaster. What's more, it's most rewarding at modest speeds found in 2nd and 3rd gear. In this regard it pulls from the same well of level-headed appeal that makes Mazda's MX-5 Miata so fun. But being a softly sprung convertible has always compromised the Miata's abilities and limited its appeal for those seeking a dedicated driver's car.

The BRZ's singularity of purpose doesn't come with the same space and structure compromises found in the Miata, either. Its trunk is big enough to handle more than just weekend trips, its structure makes no concessions to top-droppers and its suspension tuning strikes a perfect balance between date nights and track days.

Focus, Focus, Focus

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Balance and communication through the slalom is superb.

In addition to its mid-speed capability, the BRZ encourages full-attack driving on unfamiliar roads well into triple digits. Its brakes don't fade, its gearbox doesn't balk and its chassis remains composed even when the road surface isn't. We hammered it for hours over rough roads with little regard for the hardware and never once bottomed the suspension or had a moment that made us reconsider our speed.

Steering, which is electrically assisted in a rapid 13.1:1 ratio, is immensely feelsome and exact, imparting the front tires' grip status precisely to its driver's brain stem. It is perhaps the best electric steering in any car, except, possibly, Mazda's nearly extinct RX-8.

Brake response, too, is immediate and confident. Thirty minutes driving well past rational limits did damp the middle pedal's hair-trigger response, but we never lost confidence in the pedal. Ironically, the BRZ's tires, which are the same used as in the Plus Performance Package on a Toyota Prius, seemed entirely able, exhibiting only insignificant wear after a full day of back-road insanity.

Like It Should Be, Mostly

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Creeping up on oversteer is unintimidating in the BRZ.

The 2013 Subaru BRZ's five stability control modes — three too many, if you ask us — are needlessly complex. So much so, in fact, that even Subaru insiders struggle to adequately explain the purpose for so many choices. There's a "Sport" mode which will loosen the electronic reins enough to allow you to have fun while still metering out protection if needed. Fortunately, fully disabling the system is easy.

What's more, it's not really needed. Because it communicates so clearly, there's no sense of intimidation driving the BRZ to its limits. It's a textbook example of predictable rear-drive behavior, which is rewarding for both the advanced and novice driver alike.

Ignoring the BRZ's entirely modest arrangement of parts, the car is a stunning experience. Considering them, it's a machine you need to drive in its element to fully appreciate. When it comes to purity of purpose, you'll be hard-pressed to find a car that delivers this much speed and involvement under $50,000 — Mitsubishi's Evo X being one possible exception. Repeat this kind of driving in an Evo, though, and you'll be buying tires and brake pads at double this rate.

Not About the Numbers

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Braking in the BRZ is straight and true. Pedal feel is excellent.

If you're the kind of enthusiast whose car must be able to hammer down freeway on-ramps with its tires ablaze, the BRZ isn't your car.

At 7.3 seconds, its 0-60 time (7.0 seconds using a 1-foot rollout like on a drag strip) isn't going to win over many drag racers. But this time comes with an explanation. The rev limiter in 2nd gear kicks in at 59.2 mph, requiring a second shift to achieve the milestone and slowing the time considerably. The quarter-mile passes in 15.3 seconds at 92.1 mph. Judge the BRZ on its acceleration alone and you'll be disappointed. But it should surprise exactly no one that 200 horsepower pushing around 2,734 pounds isn't going to thrill John Force.

But you're not John Force, are you? Neither are we, which is why we realize that the BRZ's respectable 69.1-mph slalom speed and striking 0.92g on the skid pad are more definitive of its character than is its acceleration. Those numbers are better than both the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe (67.4 mph slalom, 0.89g skid pad) and the 2011 Ford Mustang GT (67.3 mph slalom, 0.91g skid pad).

Braking, too, is solid. The BRZ required 114 feet to stop from 60 and it did so consistently with a firm, confident pedal. The Genesis Coupe needed 116 feet to make it happen and the Mustang got the job done in only 109 feet.
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Old 03-23-2012, 12:48 PM   #2
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What You Get


More gratuitous oversteer? Why not?

By now you know that the 2013 Subaru BRZ's 2.0-liter flat-4 combines port and direct fuel injection to produce the aforementioned 200 hp and 151 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment and a six-speed automatic — perhaps the only one ever well suited to this kind of car — is optional and will cost about $1,200 if it follows traditional Subaru pricing strategies. Shift paddles offer full control over the gearbox and downshifts are perfectly rev-matched.

There are few distractions from the BRZ's driver focus inside, where the finish is spartan but not cheap. A center-mounted tachometer consumes most of the instrument panel real estate. To its left is a conventional speedometer, which is duplicated in digital form inside the tachometer itself. The cloth seats are comfortable and supportive enough for hard driving, while the steering wheel is small, thick and wrapped in leather.

Navigation, Bluetooth and a USB port are standard on Premium trim levels. Throw in the extra $2,000 or so for a Limited model and you'll get synthetic suede and leather seats, seat heaters, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start and a few other features — like a spoiler.

Refreshing


The BRZ's seats — because of their material — hold occupants in place effectively.

Subaru plans to sell 500 cars monthly in the U.S. beginning April 20. Exact pricing won't be announced for several weeks, but a Scion FR-S, which lacks the 2013 Subaru BRZ's navigation system will sticker at $24,930 including delivery. A base WRX sedan — which also lacks navigation, but comes with a turbo, all-wheel drive and four doors — can be had for $26,345 (including destination). The BRZ is considerably smaller and simpler than a WRX so we're putting our money on a base price with destination around $26,000.

Then consider the fact that Subaru's BRZ lacks adjustable dampers, throttle and steering calibrations. It has no complex electronic means of torque delivery and it can't be had with a sunroof or — mercifully — as a convertible. It is simple, relatively uncomplicated and wholly uncompromised. Despite this, it is one of the most rewarding cars we've ever driven.

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?

Track Test Results



0-30 mph (sec.) 2.7
0-45 mph (sec.) 4.8
0-60 mph (sec.) 7.3
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.) 7.0
0-75 mph (sec.) 10.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph) 15.3 @ 92.1
30-0 mph (ft.) 28
60-0 mph (ft.) 114
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) 69.1
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) 0.92
MSRP $26,000

Test Driver Ratings & Comments



Acceleration Comments - Best launch rpm = 3,500-3,700. Rev limiter hits in 2nd gear at 59.2 mph, forcing the 2-3 shift just before the 60-mph milestone and significantly increasing the 0-60 time. This transmission hates aggressive 1-2 shifts. Missed 2nd gear multiple times as a result.

Braking Comments - Solid, consistent effectiveness point throughout test. Brake pedal feels reliable in this kind of test.

Handling Comments - Slalom: Excellent feedback. Feels narrow and slithers through cones respectably quickly. Steering feel and effort better than any car at this price. Yes, any car. Skid pad: Balance, balance, balance. Easy to walk up to limit and beyond with ample control and feedback. Driving near the limit of grip is truly this car's strength. It balances steering vs. throttle better than just about anything else. Fun.

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Old 03-23-2012, 04:36 PM   #3
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God help me, but I like it. I would never buy one, but I like it.
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Old 03-23-2012, 04:50 PM   #4
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So they praise the hell out of it, including the transmission - then add a comment at the end... "This transmission hates aggressive 1-2 shifts. Missed 2nd gear multiple times as a result."

As engaging as a bone stock 92 CRX IMO = FAIL. I would never buy a car that pretends to be fast just because it "feels" great. The truly great cars both "feel great" and are fast at the same time.
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:25 PM   #5
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I like this little car, I wish more manufacturers used this formula for current cars. Glad to see Subaru decided to join Mazda in the real sport car segment.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:20 PM   #6
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Now turbo it and give it ohh say 265hp
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:21 PM   #7
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that thing needs a bump of at least 75HP for real
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:01 PM   #8
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that thing needs a bump of at least 75HP for real
That's how I feel, the car is very slow but it does look quite fun to drive for what it is. I bet the automatic kind of sucks though, in these types of cars you really need a manual.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:16 PM   #9
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That's how I feel, the car is very slow but it does look quite fun to drive for what it is. I bet the automatic kind of sucks though, in these types of cars you really need a manual.
There's a saying, it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

This isn't a big boat that needs a V8 like the American muscle cars and it's built to fit the driver like a glove and feel great when hustling.

That sounds pretty satisfying to me.

It's also very affordable and easy on the gas.
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:10 PM   #10
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Last time I talked about this car on here I got into some huge **** with some people... but I still feel the same way. I don't care how well it 'feels' going around a corner. If it can't do anything on the straights, I'm not interested. Seriously, 7.3 seconds to 60? 15 second quarter? For a performance car in 2012, this is unacceptable.

Maybe they're just putting this out before they offer a turbo version. THEN we're talking.
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:22 PM   #11
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I sat in one of these, and was impressed. I liked the feel of everything. Only issue I saw, was there is less legroom in the back than a 4th Gen. (Of course I understand they're a few feet shorter in overall length.)
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:05 PM   #12
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I get it, as a person who has owned a MGB, a TR6, and a Miata I get the light weight flickable fun to drive thing. But damn that is so ugly. I mean there is no redeeming angle. Maybe the silhouette but only because it is copied from the Hyundai Genesis. Speaking of I think I would rather have a Genesis than that.
For $24,000 I would rather have a used 350z or 370z. For that money I if I was shopping for a light fun to drive fast new car I would rather have a Mazda Speed3 or even a WRX. There is no one alive that can say the BRZ is a good looking car and not lie.

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It's also very affordable and easy on the gas .
I've never owned a Flat four that was good on gas, have you?
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:12 PM   #13
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There's a saying, it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

This isn't a big boat that needs a V8 like the American muscle cars and it's built to fit the driver like a glove and feel great when hustling.

That sounds pretty satisfying to me.

It's also very affordable and easy on the gas.
Yup, I agree and that's why people love these types of cars. Not my cup of tea whatsoever, but I can appreciate it for what it is.
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Old 03-24-2012, 10:01 PM   #14
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It's slow but Subaru makes pretty solid rides.
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:44 AM   #15
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I get it, as a person who has owned a MGB, a TR6, and a Miata I get the light weight flickable fun to drive thing. But damn that is so ugly. I mean there is no redeeming angle. Maybe the silhouette but only because it is copied from the Hyundai Genesis. Speaking of I think I would rather have a Genesis than that.
For $24,000 I would rather have a used 350z or 370z. For that money I if I was shopping for a light fun to drive fast new car I would rather have a Mazda Speed3 or even a WRX. There is no one alive that can say the BRZ is a good looking car and not lie.


I've never owned a Flat four that was good on gas, have you?
I think it looks pretty good...but I believe styling to be subjective.
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Old 03-25-2012, 01:27 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by 7998 View Post
For $24,000 I would rather have a used 350z or 370z.
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Last time I talked about this car on here I got into some huge **** with some people... but I still feel the same way. I don't care how well it 'feels' going around a corner. If it can't do anything on the straights, I'm not interested. Seriously, 7.3 seconds to 60? 15 second quarter? For a performance car in 2012, this is unacceptable.
I agree.
They did manage to keep the pricing under $25k so I have to commend them for delivering what seems like it could be a fun little car, but I also agree that a little more 'oomph' might be welcomed as well.
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Old 03-25-2012, 03:25 AM   #17
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http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...t-drive-review

Here is the test drive for the FR-S
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:42 AM   #18
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I've never owned a Flat four that was good on gas, have you?
My wrx did fairly well and was super fun. Got about 27mpg with it
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:01 AM   #19
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My wrx did fairly well and was super fun. Got about 27mpg with it
27mpg with a turbo 4 good?

My SC Cobalt SS would get mid to high 30s @ 80mph set on cruise. I would say, that boxer 4's are NOT known for respectable mpg - maybe it's the AWD that eats up the fuel? (That way this car may be better?)
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Old 03-25-2012, 01:07 PM   #20
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Fun car, but too slow.
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Old 03-25-2012, 01:07 PM
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