2013 Subaru BRZ - Reality Sets In

December 11, 2012
2013 Subaru BRZ Front Left View
Long-Term 2013 Subaru BRZ Update - WINTER 2012 (1 OF 1)
Miles to date: 9,525
"There's no good daily driver that's also a perfect driver's car."
After living with a 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium for five months, we've noticed a few problems with the car. The day after our last monthly update, we had to order a replacement right taillight because ours filled with condensation. A simple fix, right? Sure, if you can find the part, which is currently back-ordered until January. A minor problem, but our new car no longer looks so new.
There have also been sporadic problems with the navigation system. At first we spent all of our time running our favorite roads in the new BRZ to enjoy its stellar chassis and predictable handling. Lately we've been venturing a bit farther afield and discovered how poorly the navigation system performs. Everyone who tried to use navigation has reported multiple instances of the unit losing the GPS signal. A visit to the dealer was in order.
We learned the BRZ has a technical service bulletin for the GPS antenna mount as well as an SD card exchange program for the navigation software. Another simple fix, right? Again, it would be only if the parts are on hand. We're told the new mounting bracket and SD card will be available in a week or two. Such is life with a brand-new car before the bins at the factory parts depots are full. In any case, don't expect to see our new Subaru BRZ on a long road trip for a while.
While we spent our first few months enjoying the Subie as driver's car and fair weather toy, the experience of daily driving is finally putting us in touch with reality. We expected the stereo to sound much better with our new driver's door speaker installed, but the speakers still serve up "a constant stream of distortion," according to senior editor Eric Tingwall. The touchscreen interface's tiny buttons have yet to find a fan and Tingwall has gone so far as to suggest an aftermarket Sony head unit for the car. We aren't quite ready to give up on the factory unit until we test the revised navigation software, but the universal loathing for the stereo controls is difficult to ignore.
Two hatchback-owning associate Web editors find the BRZ difficult to live with on a daily basis. Over a weekend with car, Jake Holmes disliked the "middling rear visibility, thrashy engine, notchy gearbox, somewhat stiff and buzzy highway ride, and a real lack of back seat room." Donny Nordlicht took issue with the "hard, cheap plastic everywhere, the black-black-fake silver color scheme, the unusable center console (I didn't dare try to get Starbucks with this car), or the infuriating infotainment system with too-small controls (both hard buttons and on the screen) and Bluetooth system that refuses to stay connected."
On the other hand, deputy editor Joe DeMatio found the BRZ Premium to be surprisingly practical for a run to Costco with two kids in tow, ages 13 and 11: "I was a little worried about packing it all in, but I needn't have been concerned. Anna fit nicely in the front passenger's seat, Logan was nestled in behind her, and I was able to pack a cart full of stuff into the trunk, including two 40-lb bags of dog food, a case of La Croix water, 6 gallons of apple juice and assorted other grocery items."
Another staffer put the daily driving complaints into perspective: "This is a fantastic driver's car. It's not at all surprising that it's compromised as a daily driver. There's no good daily driver that's also a perfect driver's car, so far as I know. The two missions will always be at odds with each other. But something like a Volkswagen GTI would be a better compromise daily driver than the Subaru BRZ."
Although the 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium isn't the perfect daily driver, we're not going to park it for the winter. A set of 215/45R-17 Bridgestone Blizzak LM60 performance winter tires just arrived from the Tire Rack, our official wheel and tire supplier, and we mounted them on the stock wheels. We didn't want to give up the steering feel or precision we've come to expect from our BRZ, so we opted for a little less ultimate handling capability in the snow and a bit more responsiveness on dry pavement.
There's a chance these tires won't get us through a huge snowstorm, but we're willing to park the car for a night or two if winter turns out to be especially white this year. So far we find the BRZ's steering with the Bridgestone Blizzaks to be almost as good as it has been with the stock summer tires, though we haven't yet had an opportunity to assess performance in slippery conditions. Check back next month to see if we get the White Christmas of our dreams.

Long-Term 2013 Subaru BRZ Reviews to Date:

2013 Subaru BRZ - Reality Sets In
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Photo Gallery

  • Even sitting still, the BRZ looks ready to take on a track.
  • We love the BRZ on curvy roads.
  • The BRZ normally puts a huge smile on our faces.
  • The profile view makes the BRZ look especially aggressive.
  • Our BRZ needs a new taillight. This one is full of condensation.
  • The BRZ's cabin is basic, but functional.
  • The BRZ's navigation system needs a software update and new antenna mount.
  • Joe DeMatio easily fit the bounty of a Costco run in the BRZ's trunk.
  • The 2.0-liter boxer engine isn't the most refined.

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