By now you’ve undoubtedly read several reviews of the Subaru BRZ, and as every other journalist has said, this RWD sports coupe is worth its weight in gold. What they may not have mentioned, though, is the staggering amount of control the BRZ offers at the ragged edge of driving. I was able to test the limits (and beyond) of this razor-sharp two-door on arguably some of the most challenging roads ever built.
If you’ve ever been to and driven the paved tarmac in the southern French Alps, then you can attest to the statement above, but can you say you drove it in the perfect car for the task at a ridiculous pace that would soil most passengers’ pants?
I did (minus the pants soiling) and walked away with what I will argue is the best way to review any sports car.
A track is a controlled environment—after a lap or two you know what the corners look like and how the car behaves—but on twisty roads with elevation changes, blind corners, and road debris, the predictability of what’s ahead is unknown. Instead, you’re left to rely on the vehicle’s ability to react to your inputs.
This is where the BRZ truly shines. Forget the low center of gravity that rivals the Ferrari 458 Italia (an incredible feat on its own) or the lightning-quick short-throw shifter. Let’s even look past what I consider the perfect cockpit. With a low-slung seating position and small, 14.4-inch steering wheel, the BRZ’s immense controllability at the limit is what makes it such a special and superb sports car.
Confidence in your car is all important, and when it’s present it invokes a sense of ability to push harder, further than you thought possible. With the BRZ, it’s apparent the moment you drive the car that there’s little it can’t do for you. You’ll quickly run out of talent before you run out of car.
However, stomp on the gas pedal and the BRZ may seem underwhelming because the 200hp direct-injected flat-four boxer engine winds out to 7,300 rpm with little reason for excitement. In a straight line it leaves you wanting more, but when you begin to put it through its paces on mountainous roads, you realize the power output is well matched for the nimble 2,762-pound chassis.
The combination of MacPherson front strut and double-wishbone rear suspension, 215/45R17 summer performance tires, a rapid electronic steering rack, and properly reinforced frame are all key aspects underneath the handling brilliance of the BRZ.
Even if the engineers tried, I don’t think they could improve on the BRZ’s current steering feel and precision. Simply put, it is the best I have driven in any modern-day sports car (including exotics). The fact that it’s electric is even more impressive because most systems assisted by electric motors are numb, lacking feedback and liveliness.
The seats offer ample support for hard driving while still retaining a civility about them that won’t have you moaning about comfort on long trips. The rest of the interior is spartan, and while it may lack some aesthetic appeal, we mustn’t forget that this is a $25K automobile.
Once engaged in motion, the shifter, steering wheel, and three pedals work in a harmonious manner that lets one focus on the task of driving rather than fumbling with the inputs.
Add in an immediate, engaging, incisive brake pedal and whether it’s the mountain roads of the French Alps or the corkscrew at Laguna Seca, there’s little doubt the BRZ can handle most anything that is thrown at it.
In a world where overengineered and overly complicated automobiles are becoming common, it’s refreshing to see that there’s still hope for the true auto enthusiast. Less really is more with the BRZ; it’s smaller and lighter than almost anything that slightly resembles its competition. It is the first car in more than a decade to emphasize driver engagement over driving aids, and in doing so, the BRZ has cemented itself as the must-have for many years to come.
Specs & Details
'13 Subaru BRZ
Engine 2.0L naturally aspirated DOHC direct-injection flat-four
Horsepower 200 hp
Torque 151 lb-ft
Transmission Six-speed manual (six-speed automatic optional)
Price $25,495 base