Everybody loves the BRZ. And why the heck not? Even the name is fun. Point is, the 2017 Subaru BRZ is all about driving, and well, driving ought to be fun. Right?
Right. Leave the commute behind. Subaru’s only rear-wheel-drive model is here to slay boredom behind the wheel with precise and responsive handling, a great manual gearbox and perfect balance. I drove the Subaru BRZ Limited model with a 6-speed manual transmission and 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder boxer engine. The powertrain combo produces 205 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque, which is plenty enough power in a coupe designed for balance and handling.
Upgrades with Limited trim include fog lights, seats trimmed in leather with Alcantara suede inserts, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and push-button start, heated side mirrors, heated front seats, and a 4.2-inch driver information display. Limited trim is required to get an automatic transmission, but that misses the whole point of this car. My test model also came with Subaru’s Performance option package for $1,195. Exclusive to BRZ Limited models, it brought performance brakes and a stiffer suspension. The car’s 17-inch alloy wheels also got a dark gray finish courtesy of the package. Total sticker price with $820 destination fee came in at $29,660 – just shy of 30 grand. If you think that’s a bit steep for an utterly great but somewhat impractical weekend driver, think of it this way: you’ll save money getting lost in the hills, carving canyons and discovering great new drive routes.
Get to Know your Passenger
About those drive routes: bring a good friend. I’m on the chunky side, so the interior felt snug, which is to be expected when you climb behind the wheel of a sports coupe like the Subaru BRZ. The well-bolstered front seats, and the tiny little back seat, creates a cozy feel to the cockpit that borders on cramped. Regardless, controls are expertly placed and nice to the touch; the steering wheel and shifter feel is as if Subaru designed it just for your own little piggies. Instrument cluster gauges also tip to sport, with performance metrics showcased like a stop watch and oil and water temp.
Front seats are, of course, designed for aggressive handling but aren’t so uncomfortable as to twist a drive about town or a commute into a chiropractic visit. Just remember that the BRZ is a road-carving driver’s car, and the seats keep you planted around corners and in the right driving position. That means an upright and firm perspective, without much in the way of frills. You’ll grow to like it, just as you will the get-down-to-business dashboard and simplified controls. That’s not to say the experience is austere: though there’s plenty of hard plastic, the design of the controls, application of leather, and soft surface material makes for a pleasant cabin. It may be a true driver’s cockpit, but that doesn’t mean it has to be an unpleasant place to sit – and the BRZ straddles the line pretty well.
Overall, though, it’s not the kind of place you’d want to spend your Monday – Friday commute unless you’re able to take that famous long way home. The front seats are a little too firm, the cabin a little too loud, and the entry-exit position too low for constant use. Not to mention, the backseat is more like a cargo area. But that’s not so much a flaw in the Subaru BRZ as it is a consequence and reality of the type of car it is: sports coupes aren’t built like sedans for a reason.
This could be your happy place
For every practical reason not to own this vehicle, for the jarring freeway bumps and potholes, the loud interior and the useless back seat, there’s one irrational itch that will outweigh all manner of practicality: the driving experience. As far as I’m concerned, the BRZ is one of the few affordable vehicles on the market that gives its owner a feeling of performance harmony. That means simply that everything works together to create a truly balanced driving experience. The Subaru BRZ isn’t about being first, or the most flashy, or having the most power. It’s about wanting to drive, and drive some more, and being in love with the feeling of how a car pours on the power, how it responds to gear changes, and especially how it handles. It’s about rowing gears, diving into corners and accelerating out with pure glee.
On my drive I was impressed with how responsive and intuitive the car was, and I didn’t much mind a slight lag in acceleration. It was easy and fun to drive, utterly composed during tight cornering, and a pleasure to aggressively work through the gears.
That’s the Subaru BRZ. It’s all about the fun. It’s not practical, but it’s not designed to be. It isn’t the fastest, and certainly is not meant to be. The Subaru BRZ conjures the best possible drive every time you push the button and head out to the open road. As a result, if you’re a car enthusiast – or even if you’re not – the experience of driving it will make you a fan of fun.