By now, I’ve driven this car in all its variations – from test mule to final production—and with every drive, this little sports coupe gets better. As if it has something new to teach me that I didn’t notice before, that perhaps both Subaru and Toyota’s engineers did on purpose (and I’m guessing there are a few more tricks waiting for future generations)—you get the sense that the BRZ is under-hyped even though it’s clouded by so much positive fanfare. That’s not to say it hasn’t met its share of social media backlash; it’s had plenty—but like so many other things in life, should be taken with (many) a grain(s) of salt, since much of those opinionated voices have made up their minds based on looks and misinformation alike, none from having ever driven the car for themselves. The blind have been easily led by the blind, yet the light is beaming directly onto them. What a shame, they’re all missing out.
You’ll hate me for saying this, but the first time I drove a BRZ wasn’t on American soil—try the roads carved into the French Alps on for size. Often just single lane widths (this is going both directions, mind you) at times, there are no speed limits, not a cop in sight—you’re lucky if another car shares the same space of what you can see either in front or behind you, which isn’t often in that part of France, especially during that time of year. So you know what that means: punch the fucking gas pedal and don’t lift off. Well, most of the time. At nearly four hours of uninterrupted driving time, except for the occasional piss break or to admire the countryside, the BRZ proved to me it was worthy of roads this fine and that I was worthy enough to control the helm. But regardless of the experience, nothing drives the impression home more than when, well, you’re at home—literally.
Back home, in Los Angeles, where there are rules, I’m in my zone, where I know my routes inside and out—every street’s turns, speed limits, where to downshift and when to avoid potholes. It’s my ideal testing ground, believe it or not. So after weeks of having driven those French roads, as perfect as they were, I needed a quick refresher on subpar conditions to remind me why I love the BRZ so much. It does not exploit your weaknesses or help to hide them but can be used as a tool to help grow along with it—the more you learn about how it drives, the better it reacts to your inputs. Why it took so long for a RWD car like this to come back to the market, I don’t really care—I’m just glad it’s here now.
If you’ve asked why it’s not more powerful, doesn’t come with a factory turbocharger or that it should’ve came as a STI, just stop right there—please. With a cherry on top. You clearly do not understand why the car was designed in such a way and nothing I say will convince you—so do yourself a favor and go for a test drive so that the BRZ can do the proverbial talking for me. Countless stories have already covered the 2.0L FA20 motor, a clear byproduct of the Subaru engineering department—so while it’s easy to say the 200hp produced by the direct/port-injected Boxer leaves plenty of room for improvement, it’s even easier to tell you that in stock form, it’s best to leave it lower gear so that you can mash around in higher rpm, where it excels. Stoplight drags will be a slow start but I guarantee the fun will be had when you can get it turning. Had I not make editor’s chump change, I can assure you, as I’ve said many times before, that adding a BRZ to my garage would’ve been done a long time ago.
So, what’s holding you back? Wait, don’t tell me…
What’s the Difference?
While the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S are nearly one in the same car, there are a few subtle differences between the two. Luckily, enthusiasts have the option of mixing and matching parts for a totally unique look—or, if you prefer to remain purist, know that there are international markets that you can track down (JDM/European) parts from. Speaking from a purely stock form, here are the most notable features:
That New Car Smell
2013 Subaru BRZ
The Sticker Starting from $25,495
Engine 2.0L 4-cylinder DOHC Boxer FA20 motor
The Power 200hp at 7,000rpm; 151lb-ft
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel-drive
Transmission 6-speed M/T or 6-speed A/T with Sport/manual modes and paddle shifters with rev-matching downshift control; Torsen limited slip differential
Footwork & Chassis 4-wheel independent suspension; front struts with lower L-arm; rear double wishbone; front/rear stabilizer bars
Brakes 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes; 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution
Wheels & Tires 17x7" alloys; 215/45R17 summer performance tires
At the Pump Manual: 22/30/25 (city/hwy/combined), automatic: 25/34/28
The Competition Scion FR-S
Deep Thoughts The BRZ itself is worth the price of admission alone—but its premium features add a sweet note to the entire deal. They’re available in very limited quantities, so if you can get one, do it.