Category Archives: Subaru BRZ

Why you should love the BRZ!


Yes, Subaru can… save driving

Lulled into stupor by your in-car DVD player and automatic butt massagers, you may not have noticed, but cars have gotten really, really boring in the last two decades. Sure, they’re faster than ever — a 2011 Toyota Camry makes 21 more horsepower than a 1991 Porsche 911 — they’re safer than ever and they’re more luxurious than ever. But all the above have removed the whole purpose of cars: The driving itself. But change could now be on the horizon. Could a new product from the most beige of automakers forever restore the driver to his rightful place?

But that all changed a week ago when I walked into the reveal of the Scion FR-S here in Hollywood. The car in front of me wasn’t about bullshit numbers that translate into very little experience. It wasn’t about features and it wasn’t about image. It’s not designed to perfectly accentuate Mr. Bluetooth Earpiece’s striped shirt or make Sally Homemaker feel rugged. Unlike literally every other car on the market in 2011, it’s made to do one thing and one thing only. It’s made to be driven.

There’s been some bitching in Jalop circles that the Scion FR-S/Toyota GT 86 and its Subaru BRZ cousin don’t make headline-grabbing power figures. To them, I say, who cares? I’ve driven the most powerful cars on the planet and been bored to tears doing so. The problem is, that with ridiculous power, comes ridiculous liability.

No automaker is free to allow mere mortals to exploit a 556 HP luxury car without intervention. And I’m not talking about just the electronic kind. Chassis on those cars are tuned for safety, not driver involvement. Stability at high speeds, not agility in tight corners. The hugely wide and extremely low-profile tires needed to put that power to the road grip like hell, but utterly refuse to slide in a controllable manner. Where’s the fun when you only have two choices on the menu: grip or spin?

In fact, the whole concept that speed somehow correlates with what we want to do as drivers is completely erroneous. I’m not in this to read some number off a dashboard, I drive cars and ride bikes to develop new skills, then practice them. I drive to participate in a landscape and, occasionally, to scare myself.

The best driver’s car I’ve ever owned was a BMW that weighed 2,813 Lbs and made 167 HP. The Scionotabaru weighs 2,689 Lbs and makes 197 HP. That’s plenty for me. That I’ll be able to drive it without playing into the ideas that our midwestern and southern readers probably have about me and my skinny jeans and that I’ll be able to carry luggage and occasionally some buddies in the back seats just makes it that much better.

To put those numbers in perspective, a current BMW M3 weighs 3,704 Lbs. Over 1,000 more than the Subionta. Where’s the fun in that?

That the GT 86/86/FR-S/BRZ was able to get down to such a svelte weight without the use of exotic materials is indicative of its appeal. It doesn’t need a carbon fiber roof or magnesium wheels or drillium pedals in order to perform. Which means you’ll be able to make it perform for just $24,000. That’s less than a VW Golf TDI. You can afford this car. You can afford to crash this car and you can afford to repair it. That means you can afford to really, really drive it. Hard. You can afford to modify it. You’ll probably be able to do the maintenance yourself, in your driveway.

When I walked into that FR-S unveil I saw a car that was small, a car that was practical, a car that was unassuming, a car that was RWD, has a manual transmission, a light weight and perfect weight distribution. I saw a car that I wanted, badly. For the first time in a long time.

I’m planning on buying a BRZ. How about you?

About That Drinking Problem – NY Times – 2012 Subaru Impreza – Mid Hudson Subaru

Subaru of America

MORE M.P.G.’S With its jump in fuel economy, the 2012 Subaru Impreza is now the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in the United States. More Photos »

THERE are so many Subarus here in northern New Hampshire that people joke about it being the official state car. But the owners don’t joke about their fuel economy, which pretty much stinks.

This consumer displeasure has not escaped the attention of Subaru, which concedes that lackluster gas mileage has cost it sales. The company finally addressed the issue when it redesigned the midsize Legacy and Outback for 2010, and it has followed up by greatly improving the mileage of the redesigned 2012 Impreza compact.

The new Impreza sedan with an automatic transmission is rated at 36 miles per gallon on the highway, a whopping 38 percent increase from last year’s figure of 26 m.p.g. The city mileage estimate has jumped to 27 m.p.g., from 20 m.p.g., a leap of 35 percent.

The gains also make the Impreza the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in the United States. Its closest competitor is the 2012 Mini Cooper Countryman S All4 with a 6-speed manual transmission. That Mini is rated at 25 m.p.g. city and 31 m.p.g. highway and, in contrast with the easy-to-please Impreza, has a gas snob’s taste for premium fuel.

In addition to the Impreza sedan, there is a four-door hatchback (which Subaru persists in calling a five-door). Each has a 5-speed manual transmission as standard equipment.

The sedan with the stick shift is rated at 25/34 m.p.g., a gain from last year of 5 m.p.g. in town and 7 on the highway. The new hatchback with the manual is rated at 25 m.p.g. in the city (a gain of 5) and 33 on the highway (up 6).

Happily for consumers, and for Subaru, the new Impreza offers more than an improved ability to shun gas stations. It blends practicality — particularly with the hatchback — with more entertaining handling.

The sedan starts at $18,245 and the hatchback at $18,745. Some states require a cleaner PZEV-rated version (for Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle), which adds $300 to the price.

The continuously variable automatic transmission, a fuel-saving design without discrete gears, adds $1,000.

I spent a week in a sedan with the C.V.T. and Premium trim. The price, with a $3,000 option package that included alloy wheels, sunroof, navigation system and heated seats was $23,545.

An automaker seeking to coax some small gains in fuel economy can typically come up with a few tweaks here and there. But to manage improvements of this magnitude it is necessary to spend some serious money for a new engine and transmission.

The variable transmission, which replaces a quaint and uncompetitive 4-speed automatic, is a smaller version of the C.V.T. in the Legacy and Outback. The unit responds promptly to the gas pedal, but during cruising it also lets the engine speed drop, improving fuel economy.

The other big change is a new 2-liter 4-cylinder engine, an offspring of Subaru’s first all-new engine family in two decades. It is a smaller version of a 2.5-liter power plant introduced in the Forester last year, and like other Subaru engines it is a horizontally opposed, or Boxer, design.

Subaru says the engine is more efficient and includes some lighter components because it was not designed to be turbocharged: some parts of a turbo engine have to be stronger to withstand additional pressure created by the turbocharger.

The new engine is rated at 148 horsepower at 6,200 revolutions per minute and 145 pound feet of torque at 4,200 r.p.m. That’s a big drop from the 170-horse engine of last year, but Subaru says the new transmission’s quicker response helps to make up for the loss of power. Also, the new Impreza weighs less — in the case of my test car, about 130 pounds.

In about 400 miles of travel on Interstate highways and hilly roads through the White Mountains, I never felt the Impreza was seriously underpowered. But neither would I say that its acceleration was brisk.

Once up to speed, the Impreza is a fine companion for the driver in a hurry. The electric power steering’s consistent weight and feel are quite good — indeed, far superior to the steering in other recently redesigned Subarus like the Outback. With a reworked suspension and stronger body, the car responds quickly when the driver wants to change direction. Rumpled roads don’t upset either the Impreza’s handling or the comfort of its occupants.

I also briefly drove a hatchback and found the handling was similar. Subaru says it tried to make all the Imprezas ride and handle the same.

BBC Top Gear – First drive: Subaru BRZ coupe – Mid Hudson Subaru

First drive: Subaru’s new BRZ coupe

First of all, let’s solve the mystery of the name. BRZ stands for Boxer, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith. That’s pretty clear isn’t it? Well, the first two parts are, and as for Zenith, that’s just Subaru’s way of saying this is the best it can do. Personally I think SubaruZenith has more of a ring to it than Subaru BRZ which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly a dynamic name.

And this is a shame for a rather dynamic car. That’s right, we’ve finally, finally driven the BRZ. We had to go all the way to Subaru’s test track, two hours north of Tokyo to do so, but it was worth it.

So where to start? As suspected, both Subaru and Toyota have had specific tasks within this joint project. Toyota has been responsible for the design (certainly not the most dynamic aspect of the BRZ), and has lent its direct injection technology to the engine. Subaru has done pretty much everything else. Talking to the engineers you get the sense this is very much Subaru’s car – the first development prototype was a cut n’ shut Legacy, the next an Impreza. This is good news, as we know Subaru can build great cars. The BRZ clearly has potential.

It’s a brand new car from scratch – a rare thing these days. The engine is mounted so low, Subaru believes it has a lower centre of gravity than a Ferrari 458. And a low engine is not only good for handling, but also means the driver can be sat low, yet still see over the bonnet. It’s snug inside, the design largely functional, the colour scheme mostly grey. It’s no Audi TT, but the impression is good because you’ve dropped so low into a wrap-around seat and your hands are clasping a small, feelsome wheel.

The driver’s seat is definitely the place to be. Subaru boasts that this is the world’s smallest four seat rear-wheel drive coupe, so you can guess what that means for those travelling in the back. And the boot seems to be a complete afterthought.

See all the pictures from the Subaru BRZ first drive

But enough of that, it’s the driving that counts. The 2.0-litre flat four is naturally aspirated, revs to 7,400rpm and develops 200bhp and 151lb ft of torque. These, you don’t need me to point out, aren’t massively impressive figures these days. And the BRZ isn’t a massively fast car. Final homologation happens next month, the expectation being a 0-62mph time of around 6.8secs with the CO2 target being 160g/km. I’d guess at a top speed of around 145mph, and 42mpg on the combined cycle.

It’s light though (1,220kg), and Subaru has worked the torque hard, so although the peak is between 6,400-6,600rpm, you have almost all of that before 3,000rpm. Put your foot down at low revs and it picks up healthily, aided by super-quick throttle response. But it tails off a bit through the mid-range, meaning you have to head for the high numbers to get your kicks. And that’s where the BRZ is at its best. It zips through the final 2,000rpm, feels keen and energetic and then, well, and then there’s the noise. We have high hopes…

Of course, it sounds different. This Boxer doesn’t chunter and warble like an old Impreza, it’s a smoother note than that, still slightly off-beat and noisy enough without being intrusive. It’s not Honda Type-R addictive, but it’s a plus, a whack more interesting to listen to than any four cylinder turbo you care to mention (VW Scirocco? Renaultsport Megane? Mini Cooper S?). It makes this a fun engine to use, but it’s not the best thing about the car.

Because the best thing is the handling. The BRZ steers like it has no weight to deal with. It doesn’t appear to roll, pitch or dive. It’s neither nose nor tail heavy, just a sense of the front and rear working in perfect harmony. You steer, it goes and when the grip runs out (it was pouring with rain in Japan), the BRZ is almost totally neutral. And you get so much warning of when that’s about to happen. I was nervous when I found out it had electric power steering, but this has to be about the best system I’ve tried – the springy weighting is lovely and real sensations are fed back into your hands.

How best to describe it as an overall package? Keen. Eager. It’s not puppy-ish in its enthusiasm, it’s a bit more measured than that, but it’s a lot of fun. Easily better to drive than a VW Scirocco; more agile and rewarding than any Audi TT. It may not have the lungs on a Nissan 370Z, but it’s way more dextrous and I can’t think of any hot hatch except possibly the Renaultsport Clio that provides as much satisfaction.

You can still tell that it’s a Subaru at heart – not just in the engine, but the steering and manual gearbox – but it’s like they’ve let Lotus loose on the chassis. Well, almost. The light frame does get a bit thrown by big bumps, but it never feels unnerving, instead it inspires confidence.

The manual gearbox is really good – mechanical and precise – and the six-speed auto is better than expected. It’s not a double clutch, but it’s just fast enough and intelligent enough to justify its presence in a sports car.

See all the pictures from the Subaru BRZ first drive

Any other criticisms? Well, being honest, the BRZ seems slightly out of step with other rivals. Subaru has ditched the turbo just as others have adopted it, it’s available with an unfashionable auto rather than a double clutch, the biggest wheels are likely to be 17s, there’s no adaptive damping or any other chassis trickery. But does this matter? It will to some buyers, just as the styling is too plain to tempt others. But if you enjoy driving, if you relish the thought of a compact rear-drive coupe, this is the car for you. Roughly 1,000 per year will come to the UK, starting in June, with prices from around £26,000-28,000.

Technical details on the Subaru BRZ – Mid Hudson Subaru

Under the skin of the Scion FR-S, Toyota 86, Toyota GT-86, or Subaru BRZ

First of all, it’s the right size. Just a hair bigger than a Miata, but with more space inside. So stop comparing it to that behemoth from Hyundai!

Second, it’s reasonably close to the right weight. Japanese versions are supposedly 2689 pounds, but the Japanese tend to weigh their cars dry, offer more stripped-to-the-bone versions (like no stereo, no A/C), and have lighter bumpers and door beams. All indications are that U.S. models will be about 100 pounds heavier.

Third, it was developed with the right attitude. Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada was quoted saying

“There is a Toyota standard for designing new cars. This standard was to a large extent ignored. Why did we do this? There are cars that are accepted by a lot of people. Practical cars that are easy to drive and that do not break easily. These are standard Toyota cars. The 86 is not a car like that. We had to change our design approach for this car. We may have to do this again for other cars.

It is impossible to develop a sports car that appeals to everybody. If you try to please everybody, the car would be half-baked for everybody, and not particularly good for anybody.  This car is not developed by a committee, or by consensus.”

Do yourself a favor and go read the rest of that story at The Truth About Cars. We’ll still be here when you’re done…

Under the skin of the Scion FR-S, Toyota 86, Toyota GT-86, or Subaru BRZ

Under the hood we know some interesting things.

1: There is no engine cover. You can see the engine when you open the hood! This Tada guy obviously gets it.

2: The engine is a unique mish-mash of Subaru and Toyota technology. The bottom (middle?) end is supposedly based on the new FB20, but the square 86 x 86mm bore and stroke (the standard FB is undersquare) calls that little factoid into question. When Toyota wants to make horsepower, they pick up their red phone and call Yamaha. Yamaha did the 2ZZGE head, the 3SGTE head, and if you go back far enough, they even did the engine in the 2000GT. Word is Yamaha is responsible for the heads on this one too.

Toyota’s bizarrely complex but very effective direct and port injection system is in place, with fuel delivery split between two parallel sets of injectors, one in the intake ports and one in the cylinders.

Those Yamaha heads and direct injection are apparently pretty damn knock resistant. Compression is 12.5:1

You already know this, but just for the record, Scion is saying 200 hp at 7000 rpm, 151 lb-ft of torque at 6600 rpm, and redline is 7400 rpm. Those numbers are all very slightly different than we’ve seen before, but are close enough not to matter.

Other things we can tell from this picture of the engine bay:

The big hose teeing off the intake looks like it’s piping sound to the interior. This is a relatively common thing these days. When the intake is placed way up in cold-air land forward of the radiator, the only way to get good intake honkus sounds to the guy making the payments is to pipe the sound in through a membrane (kinda like a rugged speaker cone with no driver) that lets sound pass through without letting unfiltered air slip by. Miatas use these, Mustangs use these, and they’re quite common in Europe where drive-by noise regulations make it nearly impossible for a car to sound good without one.

The lack of a power steering pump indicates electric power steering. The fact that it’s nearly 2012 also indicates electric power steering. Hope it doesn’t suck.

There will never be an all-wheel-drive version. Never.

How can we tell? The front diff needs to be roughly in line with the front wheel centerline, and with a Subaru layout, the front diff sits behind the clutch. In this car, the middle of the engine sits on the front wheel centerline. The engine would have to move forward nearly a foot to make all-wheel drive possible, and that’s just not going to happen.

And that’s fine with us. The weight distribution is already 53/47. We don’t need it any more front heavy.

Scion FR-S underbody

We were planning to bring you fresh information on the exhaust manifold layout (will the primaries be paired Subaru-style for that off-beat sound, or will they be properly paired for good breathing?) and subframe clearance for future turbo models, but this undercover foiled that plan. At least the car will be slippery.

FR-S, GT86, 86, BRZ exhaust manifold

UPDATE: Tip of the hat to MotoIQ Nerd @Jamal, who pointed us to Hellafunctional, who stole this image from someone over at FT86Club who snapped this shot in the Subaru booth at the Tokyo Motor Show a few days ago . Looks like the engine uses a proper 4-2-1 header, which means it will sound like a proper 4-cylinder, not like a WRX. Love that fact or hate it (I’m on the fence) this manifold is surely a large part of why this engine is capable of 100 hp per liter.

Subaru BRZ Turbo, toyota 86 turbo, scion fr-s turbo

MORE UPDATES: Jay Kavanagh over at posted these pictures of the Subaru 1.6 turbo sitting right next to the BRZ/86/FT-S engine. Though there are no claims this will go in the 86, it doens’t take much imagination to see it being done, either by them or by us. This turbo packaging is very friendly for the 86’s FR layout, since there will be tons of room in front for a bigger turbo. This packaging makes a twin-scroll a no-brainer, since you could essentially have the same manifold as the non-turbo engine, but with a turbo flange right after the 4-2 collectors. It would also be much easier to simply put the intercooler in front, where it belongs, and connect to the already forward-facing throttle body.

It’s not clear how Subaru is dealing with oil drainage, since the turbo’s oil drain is down below the oil line in the pan, but the fact that Subaru already worked it out for us makes it much easier when we turbocharge one of these ourselves.

The dual direct/port injection system now makes perfect sense. It’s easier for tuners to leave the direct injectors alone and add bigger port injectors for boosted fueling.

Under the skin of the Scion FR-S, Toyota 86, Toyota GT-86, or Subaru BRZ

There doesn’t appear to be any camber adjustment in the MacPherson strut front suspension. The top mounts (visible in the engine shot) look suspiciously like Impreza top mounts. That’s just fine, since Impreza mounts are indestructible, but there’s no adjustment there.

Down here, the lower control arm is an L-arm, with the steering rack in the back and the L part of the arm pointing forward. If there was going to be camber adjustment down here, it would be on that lower control arm bushing just below the steering arm. No such luck.

Under the skin of the Scion FR-S, Toyota 86, Toyota GT-86, or Subaru BRZ

The arm itself is a simple steel arm. It’s a single stamping that should be lightweight, cheap, and easy to bend if you try to do traditional Subaru things with it.

Under the skin of the Scion FR-S, Toyota 86, Toyota GT-86, or Subaru BRZ

The last chance for camber adjustment would be here, at the strut mount. There should be an eccentric on one of those bolts, but again, no luck.

Under the skin of the Scion FR-S, Toyota 86, Toyota GT-86, or Subaru BRZ

The front calipers are two-piston sliders. These look a lot like Impreza calipers to us, which would mean there’s already a huge array of performance pads available for the 86 before it ever hits the showroom. Assuming they were nice enough to carry over mounting points, there will be brake upgrades galore as well.

Toyota Scion FR-S Subaru BRZ rear suspension

The multilink rear suspension does appear to be from an Impreza, as suspected. Long lower control arms look the same. Forged steel upper A-arm looks the same. Stamped steel trailing arm looks the same. The differential in an Impreza, though, is a Hitachi R160. Subaru has been using versions of this diff since the ’80s, and Nissan started using it back in 1967 (when they built the first 1968 510s). This is not an R160, though.

Imprezas only put 50% of their power to the back, so a diff ready to handle 200 hp would be on a 400 hp Impreza. Sadly, Subaru doesn’t make such a thing. When they make a 300-hp Impreza, though, they use an R180 (Same diff Nissan used in 1969 on the 1970 240Z). This is also not an R180…

Subaru BRZ Scion FR-S Toyota GT86 86 Differential diff

If anyone recognizes this diff, shout it out. We’ve never seen it before and fear it might be new. Carryover diffs are always good, since they mean abundant selection of gear ratios and limited slips.

is this IS300 diff the same as a Scion FR-S diff?UPDATE: Thanks to @AKADriver for pointing us in an IS direction for the diff. This IS300 diff looks like the same one. That’s all good news. Lots of ratios available, lots of different LSDs, plus word is the FR-S will come with an LSD of some sort from the factory anyway.


toyota 86 wheel and tire scion fr-s

Finally, wheels and tires are mixed news.

The wheels appear to be 17×7.5, and the bolt pattern is, sadly, Subaru’s standard 5×100. There has been rampant speculation on this subject in the last few days, but I got on my knees and measured. This bolt patern severely limits wheel selection, which is a damn shame.

The 215/45-17 tire size is actually good news. 225/45-17s will slap right on, and that’s a well supported size, with lots of performance tires available. The factory tire is a Michelin Primacy HP. No idea how bad that is. Factory tires are always engineered to the manufacturer’s specs, so even if you’ve had experience with a tire that claims to be a Primacy HP, it’s unlikely to be the same tire. The 240 treadwear rating is the only hint we have.

Other than the fact that it actually looks better in person and that we all want one now, that’s all the info we have on the 86. There are a few more shots being processed and uploaded, so we’ll update this page as soon as we have them.

Expect the car to go on sale in March or April.

2013 Subaru BRZ – Road & Track – Mid Hudson Subaru

The highly anticipated rear-drive sports coupe has the right stuff for great handling.

For an automaker that has made its name building all-wheel-drive cars, Subaru has caused a lot of buzz at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Showwith a rear-drive model. It helps that it’s the long-awaited sports car jointly developed with Toyota, which will sell it as the Scion FR-S. Subaru claims credit for the engineering of the car, with each company doing its own fine tuning and, of course, exterior and interior design.

Subaru engineers begin by emphasizing how they have created a sports car with a eye toward getting the center of gravity as low as possible and minimizing the polar moment of inertia. This is not a sports-car version of the Impreza, though that car was used as a reference point for the BRZ. Engineers were also going for light weight, the target some 2770 lb.

2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ


Let’s start with the engine, which is similar but not identical to the 2.0-liter flat-4 in the Impreza. Some might remember when developing 100 horsepower/liter was race car stuff, but Subaru does it with the BRZ, 200 bhp at 7000 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. of torque between 6400–6600 rpm, though with strong torque numbers lower down the rev range. Inside the direct-injected engine are square 86-mm dimensions for bore and stroke, chain-driven camshafts and a compression ratio set at 12.5:1. The exhaust system has been designed to amplify the good noises when needed, but quiet down for cruising.



As part of the engine design, some of its external pieces were created so the powerplant could be located well rearward and low, part of that low center of gravity exercise. The transmissions were also reworked to minimize size and maximize placement and, thankfully, the BRZ gets a real transmission instead of the Impreza’s CVT. Asked if there was any way to adapt the expected Subaru all-wheel drive to the BRZ, we were told it’s not possible as the lower, more rearward engine placement would mean the front driveshafts would have to sprout from the engine’s sides. Then again, we were told the engine’s position makes it difficult to do a turbocharged version, but we’d bet good money there will be one.

2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ


Power spins to a Torsen limited-slip differential, backed with a double wishbone suspension that has some Impreza roots. At the front are MacPherson struts, while the steering has electric assist, a ratio of 13.0:1 and a tilt and telescope wheel. The disc brakes are inside 17-in. wheels with 215/45R-17 tires.

Subaru proudly points out the BRZ’s center of gravity is lower than aFerrari 458 Italia’s, and its polar moment of inertia is lower than that of a Porsche Cayman S, achieved with the help of short body overhangs front and rear, and a radiator tilted rearward to minimize height. That 2770-lb. weight target was also a concern, leading to an aluminum hood and high-strength steel in the roof.

2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ


It’s a spiffy-looking car, with good fender muscles and a Zagato-ish double-bubble roof profile, which adds interior height and body stiffness. Naturally, the shape has been optimized for downforce and low drag. European versions will have a drag coefficient of 0.27, while ours will be a bit higher.

Inside is a rather simple (not plain) interior, the 3-gauge cluster with a tachometer at its center (there’s also a digital speedometer in that central dial). The seats’ H-point was also set lower than usual and those seats will be covered with cloth or leather/Alcantara. The BRZ is billed as a 2+2 and we can’t wait to try the back seats. Honest.

2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ


Wanting to encourage their owners to use their BRZ for more than commuting—and likely taking note of the Mazda Miata culture—Subaru has designed the BRZ so that with the rear seats folded it can carry four tires, a helmet and a few tools for gymkhana fans. You can even install a rollcage without major modifications. Or, for the less adventuresome, a pair of golf bags.

We can expect to see BRZs in the U.S. around May with prices starting roughly in the neighborhood of $25,000, including a nav system with a 6.1-in. display.

2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ

Engine type flat-4
Displacement 2.0 liters
Fuel system direct injection
Horsepower (SAE) rpm est 200 bhp @ 7000
Torque est 170 lb-ft @ 6400-6600 rpm
Transmission 6-spd manual, 6-spd auto
Wheelbase 101.2 in.
Length 166.7 in.
Width 70.9 in.
Height 50.4 in.
Curb weight 2770 lb
Steering type power rack & pinion
Steering ratio 13.0:1
Suspension, f/r MacPherson strut/double wishbone
Tire size P215/45R-18 f, P225/45R-18 r

First Drive: 2013 Subaru BRZ – Automobile Magazine – Mid Hudson Subaru

2013 Subaru BRZ Rear.JPG

2013 Subaru BRZ Interior.JPG

2013 Subaru BRZ Rear Seats.JPG

2013 Subaru BRZ Shifter.JPG And out of nowhere comes this (let’s be honest) totally doofus idea: Toyota and Subaru team up to build a rear-wheel drive, normally aspirated sports car. Oh right, Toyota, the purveyors of the Prius, plus Subaru, the company that makes turbocharged, all-wheel drive hotrods and a weird looking crossover thing that Melissa Etheridge fans adore? This was a recipe for disaster.

Out of the most disastrous recipes occasionally comes the most endearing dish, and this is one of those times. The BRZ is a delightfully fun car; a complete package that combines light weight and great handling with just enough power to have fun — but not too much that you can only enjoy it for three seconds at a time.

For all the Internet armchair warriors complaining about the meager power output, let us be the first to say: the BRZ doesn’t need a turbo. It doesn’t WANT a turbo. And anyone who says the car should have a turbo is missing the point. Like the Mazda RX-8 and Miata, the Porsche 944 and original Boxster — and all of those cars from decades ago — the BRZ is fun because of handling, not because of a sledgehammer that hits when you mash the gas pedal.

The 2.0-liter flat-four engine produces 100 hp per liter, but it does so in a way unlike any other normally aspirated four-cylinder. It doesn’t rev to 8000 or even 7500 — it’s not high-strung at all. Redlined at 7400 rpm, the flat-four soundtrack is mellow, and since the intake resonance tube pipes intake noise from only two cylinders into the cabin, it’s deep, staccato, and almost bi-plane in its exhaust note. There’s no screaming or wailing — and once the tach needle moves past 2500 rpm, where there’s a big valve timing change, the torque curve remains effectively flat until just before 7000 rpm. It’s the flattest, broadest torque curve this side of an electric motor. This engine, code FA20, shares effectively no parts with the FB20, the 2.0-liter in other Subaru applications. It’s physically smaller than the other engines, and will be used only in the BRZ — for now.

The six-speed manual transmission has a high-effort, short-throw shifter and a light clutch, and it’s a bit easy to stall the BRZ off the line because its flywheel weighs only 20 lb, some 9 less than an STI’s. The reduced reciprocating mass, along with the FA20’s shorter intake runners, means the engine responds more quickly to throttle blips, though, and the tradeoff is worth it. A six-speed Aisin automatic is optional; it can perform shifts with the torque converter locked, and blips the throttle on downshifts. It’s smooth, too. It’s great. But it’s the wrong transmission for this kind of driver’s car.

The BRZ, like so many other modern cars, uses electrically assisted steering. Subaru engineers say they went EPS for fuel economy and because it’s easier to tune than a hydraulic setup. They’ve done a fine job of tuning the effort — it feels natural, building linearly with cornering loads. Like all EPS systems though, the additional rotational inertia of the assist motor dampens out most of the steering feel, and that’s a shame. Still, the rack-and-pinion system is highly accurate, and it’s quick, with an overall ratio of 13:1. The small (14.4-inch) steering wheel turns 2.5 turns from lock to lock.

The BRZ’s entire engineering mission was a low center of gravity and low polar moment of inertia (meaning that as much as possible of the vehicle’s mass is located inside the wheelbase and as low as possible.) Subaru says the BRZ has a lower center of gravity than everything but the Porsche Cayman R and 911 GT3, and that its polar moment of inertia is less than the (mid-engine) Porsche Cayman or Mazda RX-8.

While we certainly can’t verify those claims, after driving the BRZ on a handling course, we have no reason to doubt them, either. The BRZ turns in eeee-mediately with minimal, very well-controlled body roll. The front and rear of the car react in unison — you never get the feeling that the two ends of the car are doing different things. The BRZ settles into steady-state understeer, but don’t let that fool you: the standard limited-slip differential allows you to nix that handily. Indeed under heavy throttle, the BRZ goes — and stays — neutral, and is incredibly easy to control at the limit. Breakaway at the rear is slow, deliberate, and progressive; the exact opposite of so many modern cars whose engineers seemed to only care about achieving maximum grip, not what happens when you exceed it.

Subaru made it very clear that the BRZ’s handling benchmark was the Porsche Cayman. We’re not sure exactly which benchmarks the engineers targeted, but from the wheel, we’re not feeling it. In lateral grip and turn-in response, sure — but in chassis balance, the Porsche is in a different league. The Cayman exhibits slightly less understeer in terms of static balance, but the big difference is that the Porsche allows you to quickly and dramatically adjust the car’s line with the gas pedal. The BRZ won’t trailing-throttle oversteer; once it’s settled into a corner, the only way to adjust the line is to add power.

On the other hand, the BRZ is far, far easier to control because of it. To complain about the lack of corner-adjustability is unfair — the Porsche is, after all, a mid-engine car that costs twice as much as the Subaru. That we’re even discussing them in the same sentence is a testament to how good the BRZ is.

It’s great in other ways, too — it’s 9 inches shorter than the Cayman, but seats two additional people. The BRZ’s front seats are highly supportive and very comfortable, though the rears are for very short trips or very short passengers. Still, they’re there, and the rear seatback folds (as one piece) allowing enough room for a set of track tires, according to Subaru. That’s cool.

The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach, though even extended as far as it’ll go, it’s a long reach for long-legged drivers. And the pedals are spaced a bit too far for easy heel-and-toeing. Trunk space is meager, at 6.9 cubic feet, and Subaru made no mention of an available sunroof.

Not that we would have opened it on the course — especially the high-speed oval. We saw an indicated 132 mph in the manual-transmission BRZ, and the 2.0-liter was still pulling. It seemed a long shot that it would make it to 143 mph, which is the estimated top speed an engineer gave us. On the other hand, a BRZ automatic couldn’t pull past 128 mph, and that same engineer estimates it will make it to 137 mph – so perhaps the track was headed up a slight grade. The manual transmission car should be able to hit 60 mph in just under 7 seconds; the automatic just over — but there’s enough low-end torque to easily spin the 215/45-WR17 Michelin Primacy HP tires off the line.

Wait, wait, wait! The BRZ isn’t about the numbers! A sports car doesn’t need to look good in the stats box, it just needs to be a great drive. And the BRZ is a great drive. If you’re looking for smoking 0-60 numbers and crazy top speeds that you’ll never get to, there are certainly other cars that better fit your tastes. The BRZ needs a convertible top more than it needs a turbo — because that, not horsepower, is the only thing holding this car back from being the modern-day equivalent of those wonderful 1960s sports cars.

Read more:

Subaru BRZ pricing starts at $24,000 – Mid Hudson Subaru

Journo-tweets from the Subaru BRZ‘s Japanese launch are offering up new insight on that half of the Subyota equation. Most specifically, pricing and options. The BRZ will reportedly start at around $24,000 and rise to $27,000 for the Limited model.

According to Twitter traffic, the BRZ will come in two levels of trim, the base-level — called, strangely, Premium — which includes navigation (yes, standard), eight-speaker audio, soft touch dash, limited-slip diff; leather-wrapped steering wheel (tilt-telescopic), shift knob and e-brake lever; six-speed manual; aluminum pedal covers and cruise control, among standard features.

The BRZ Limited model adds leather seats with Alcantara trim, fog lamps, rear deck spoiler, 17-inch rims and vented discs (16″ front, 15″ rear).

Naturally, that boxer-four growl comes standard on all models, but you can’t tell that from the launch video.

We already know the 2,689-lb BRZ will produce identical horsepower to its Toyota GT 86/Scion FR-S cousin; that’s 197 hp and 151 lb-ft using the same boxer four. That’s Miata-fun stuff, right there.


The Subaru BRZ will go on sale in May 2012, with modest sales expectations of 3,000-4,000 units per year, which leads us to believe a bit of demand-pressurization might occur at the beginning of next year.

Anyone care to bet what the dealer markups might look like?