By David Colman
Hypes: Terrific Color/Interior Combo
Gripes: More Cockpit Storage Please
Although Subaru (BRZ) and Toyota (Scion FRS) have collaborated from the outset to produce slightly different versions of the same 2+2 sports coupe, there are some notable differences that differentiate the pair. For 2016, Subaru has taken pains to upgrade the look of their BRZ. Ours special edition test car was finished in a new shade called “Series.HyperBlue.” This vibrant derivative of French Racing Blue not only does wonders for the external appearance, but also brings with it a specially tailored interior to match. The extremely deep bucket seats are covered with grabby black Alcantara suede, with all seams double stitched in blue thread to match the exterior hue. Fat blue “BRZ” monograms also decorate the headrests, and the rest of the interior comprises a medley of black shades: carbon fiber patterning on the dash face, pebbled black leather and vinyl on the door panels and transmission tunnel. A few splashes of matte aluminum highlight the shift console, threshold plates and pedal surfaces. The overall effect of the Series.HyperBlue interior is stunning, quite unlike anything Scion has marketed on the FRS.
The latest BRZ is unquestionably one of the top affordable sports cars on the market today. It enjoys perfect front-to-rear weight balance, light curb weight (2,770 lbs.), and a very spunky two liter engine of Subaru design that will keep you entertained with its power and sound track. The flat four cylinder makes 200hp and 151lb.-ft. of torque, so you need to select gear ratios carefully to maximize acceleration. Subaru gives you 6 well spaced gears, and a marvelous short stick to stir them up. The art of driving gets no better than a Subaru BRZ. This coupe is agile, quick and lots of fun to control. But it’s never in danger of getting you into trouble, because the power supply is never enough to overwhelm the chassis. It’s a perfectly balanced sports car that will never scare you silly when you tromp the gas pedal.
Most of the fun comes from cornering the BRZ at rates of speed that would be unthinkable in other machines. The suspension is specifically sports-tuned for maximum adhesion during transient maneuvers. Subaru makes sure you plant all 200hp on the ground while cornering by providing a standard Torsen limited slip differential. This expensive unit, often optionally available on other sports cars, insures traction when exiting corners. You can feel the Torsen kick into action when you accelerate past your apex. The tail of the BRZ hunkers down, the limited slip emits a slight ratcheting noise, and the Subaru simply squats and flings itself forward without losing an ounce of grip. The black finished 17 aluminum alloy rims carry Michelin Primacy HB tires (215/45R17) which help get the job done with a minimum of side slip. Future plans call for Subaru to introduce a race division bred model of the BRZ called the STi, but you really don’t need to meddle with the suspension of the current version. It’s already as close to perfect for real world driving as you can get.
What isn’t so perfect about the BRZ is its lack of usable storage space in the cabin. One day we stopped to fetch the usual haul of Christmas mail and found no place to tuck it away anywhere. The small glovebox is filled with the owner’s manual, the door pockets are good for a water bottle each, and the console between the seats offers 2 cup holders and no storage bin. So you’re faced with the arduous task of sliding the front seats forward to access the +2 rear seats in order to store anything at all. Because the of tall backrests on the front seats, there’s not even room to toss anything in back without first sliding the seats out of the way. Or you can climb out altogether and place your mail in the trunk, where it will fly around like space trash since there are no segregated compartments back there either. By the way, those +2 back seats are good for little kids, not adults. I made the mistake of climbing into one to see for myself and could barely hoist my 5’8″ frame back out.
Of course, you are not going to buy a BRZ because it’s the most practical mode of transportation available. It isn’t. What it is, however, is just about the most fun you can have in a car for a price of $28,485 out the door.
2016 Subaru BRZ
- Engine: 2.0 liter opposed 4, DOHC
- Horsepower: 200hp
- Torque: 151lb.-ft.
- Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG City/30 MPG Highway
- Price as Tested: $28,485
- Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars