Could the Subaru BRZ Be More Fun Than Your High School Reunion?

I am about 10 years out of high school and that means it is reunion time. I didn’t have that all-American high school experience of being the star quarterback or dating the popular cheerleader.  We all dream of going back to our high school reunions as famous millionaires.  Most of the time though, we are still ourselves. Just older, and wi(s)..der.

Recently, at the Washington Automotive Press Association‘s 2015 Rally, I had some seat time in the 2016 Subaru BRZ in Hyper Blue. (1 of 500 that made it to the U.S.)  Will the 2016 BRZ take me back 10 years, and make me feel young again?  Read below to find out.

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This is the car to buy if you take your car to the racetrack frequently, but you may want to look the other way if your daily commute looks anything like mine (six miles = 40 minutes).  The 2016 Subaru BRZ Series in Hyper Blue is a beautiful car;  the color reminds me of Volvo’s Racing Polestar division color that they endearingly call Swedish Racing Green.  As a previous owner of a 2013 Scion FR-S, stepping into the BRZ was like being reacquainted with an old friend.  But then I was immediately reminded why we aren’t friends anymore.

The engine does not feel special or unique, almost an afterthought.

I sold my Scion FR-S after only six months of ownership because I couldn’t take the abusive ride anymore. I had fallen in love with the design and handling, but that wasn’t enough to sustain our love affair.

Here are my gripes about the BRZ: I couldn’t get comfortable in the seat (your experience may vary).  The seats are geared towards support during lateral G maneuvers because this car was born and raised on a track. The track is also where the suspension was tuned.  Unfortunately, on the street you can feel it all the way up your spine.  All is forgiven when you are zipping through gears and drifting on back roads.

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BRZHBinterior

The BRZ simply doesn’t get the blood pumping though my enthusiast’s veins. The 2.0-liter boxer engine makes 200 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque. My supercharged four-cylinder 1996 Toyota minivan makes more torque, over 50 lb-ft more to be exact.  To be fair, the Previa does have a significant weight penalty compared to the BRZ.

We all know that stats don’t make a car great, but come on.  Subaru needs to give the BRZ a hefty shot of adrenaline.  The engine does not feel special or unique, almost an afterthought.

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What is unique about the engine is that it was jointly designed by Toyota and Subaru. Mostly by Subaru, but using direct-injection technology from Toyota.  The pistons lay flat and go in opposite directions from each other, they “box” each other. The engine doesn’t love to rev, and the closer you approach the redline, the worse it sounds.  I would recommend turning up the stereo to cover the engine sound, but the stereo is comparable to a 1994 Toyota Camry.

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When you look at the specs for the car (rear-wheel-drive, manual transmission, boxer engine, Torsen limited-slip differential, and a sport-tuned suspension) it should take you on a Magical Mystery Tour.  For some terrible reason, it just doesn’t add up.

It might sound like I’m hating on the BRZ, but I’m not. It is just not for everyone.  To appreciate the BRZ you have to know what you are getting into before you purchase.  You will LOVE the BRZ if you are willing to compromise ride quality, speed, interior styling, and comfort for track performance and superb handling. If any of those things are deal breakers, you need to shop elsewhere.  The Subaru WRX or Volkswagen Golf GTI would be better balanced for your commute: both cars offer automatic transmissions.  

If you already own a primary commuting car, then go ahead and buy the BRZ. You will not be disappointed.  Its superb handling and steering will help you forget its inherent shortcomings.

My experience driving the Subaru BRZ was like attending my high school reunion: At first you think it’s a great idea, but then ten minutes later, you realize you’ve had enough “catching up” with people you didn’t really want to see.

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