Let's begin with a confession: we never put the BRZ back on its stock tires after the SCCA ProSolo event. We had some track time scheduled a few days after ProSolo and it seemed like a waste to swap back to the OEM tires until after that afternoon. Then people started raving about the level of grip the Star Specs offered and nobody was willing to be the one who swapped back to less-aggressive rubber. By the time you read this, we'll be back on the stock tires. Promise.
The handful of us who were able to turn a few laps in the BRZ after we finished our Ford Mustang Boss 302 and Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE comparison test at Gingerman Raceway last month were quite impressed. Assistant editor David Zenlea loved the way the BRZ made him feel like a better driver: "In the BRZ, you really are doing everything yourself -- it's just that the BRZ's reflexes and ability to communicate bring out your very best." Another editor proclaimed the BRZ to be "a riot on the track now" despite there being a bit of understeer present and not quite enough steering feel. We all agreed the BRZ is pretty close to being the perfect beginner rear-wheel-drive track car. Perhaps a Mazda Miata would be slightly more fun, but the BRZ doesn't require a separate hard top or roll bar to be track-legal. We didn't bring the R-compound track tires and wheels on this outing because time was tight. Look for an assessment of the track-only rubber another time.
After our brief track time, we discussed the question of who are the BRZ's real spiritual ancestors. Senior editor Eric Tingwall immediately placed the BRZ on the same pedestal as the first-generation Miata: "That it is so small, so low, and so impractical proves that the engineers knew what they needed to succeed and had the authority to make things just so." Tingwall went on to say the BRZ can't be fully appreciated until you experience it in person: "You can find immediate steering, high-revving engines, and sharp-edged handling in other cars, but the BRZ combines all three and underlines the dynamic hat trick with an impossibly low seating position."
Associate Web editor Evan McCausland looked even farther back in time after his first stint in the BRZ: "Its small stature (the roofline only comes up to just above my waist) reminds me of the old Lotus Elan +2 fixed-head coupe." After sitting inside, McCausland found more to connect this car to things British. "[The dashboard is] lumpy, long, and low, much like that of a Marcos Mantis or some of the other cottage-industry British sports cars of yesterday." Fortunately the BRZ is much more reliable than any of these British antecedents could ever hope to be -- our only problems so far being an annoying dash rattle that the dealer fixed under warranty and a punctured stock tire that was able to be patched.
Copy editor Rusty Blackwell summed up the comparisons to vintage cars quite succinctly: "This Subaru feels like a throwback in its simplicity and purity."