With two models dueling for enthusiast dollars, the jointly-developed Subaru/Toyota sport coupe known as the Subaru BRZ or Scion FR-S here in America is rapidly becoming a hot commodity--for very good reason.
While cosmetically different, and available with different levels of equipment at slightly different prices, the BRZ is essentially a doppelganger to the FR-S. The one performance difference is a slightly lower rear spring rate in the BRZ, which makes it a bit more compliant and a touch more biased toward understeer at the limit. Otherwise, the two cars are functionally identical.
That's a very, very good thing. That sharing means the 2013 Subaru BRZ is an incredible buy for the driving enthusiast, priced just above $25,000, but handling as well as or better than most cars available at twice the price. Nimble, comfortable, surprisingly roomy given its compact exterior, and fantastically light weight, the 2013 BRZ is about as perfect a package as we could ask for.
Behind the wheel, you'll notice the electric power steering, but it won't get in the way; feel is good, steering effort is natural, and tracking at highway speeds is stable. The seats are comfortable and well-bolstered to hold you in place during spirited drives, and the D4-S port/direct-injection 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine is very willing to rev to redline. You'll want to do that often, however, as most of its 200 horsepower are kept above the 5,000-rpm mark.
Two transmissions are available, a very slick-shifting short-throw six-speed manual, and a surprisingly capable paddle-shifted six-speed automatic. While enthusiasts will certainly pick the manual, for anything short of autocrossing or track days, the automatic is just as quick, if somewhat less engaging.
A Torsen-type limited slip differential keeps the rear wheels working together for improved forward traction and acceleration, while also allowing the fun-if-pointless art of drifting.
As a daily driver, the sport-focused 2013 Subaru BRZ won't disappoint--much. The rear seat is surprisingly usable for short trips, even for regular-sized adults, and the cabin is well-constructed and well-designed. Road and wind noise are good for a sports car, though you may find the engine's high-pitched hum a bit intrusive at highway speeds, as the tachometer will be somewhere above halfway around its sweep at 70 mph.
There are plenty of features in every BRZ, however, including standard satellite navigation (an optional extra on the Scion FR-S), Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio connectivity, USB input with iPod control, HID headlights, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Upgrading to Limited trim adds leather and Alcantara-trimmed upholstery, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, silver metallic trim, automatic climate control, a rear spoiler, keyless entry and start, and fog lights.
For a more detailed look at the 2013 Subaru BRZ's features, performance, safety, and more, read the full review at The Car Connection.