"Yes, powersliding through fresh powder can be fun, but it loses its novelty after the third time..."
Last month we weren't feeling much love for the Subaru BRZ. There were complaints about virtually every aspect of the car, a fairly common problem in the middle months of a Four Seasons test. This month, as the season's first snow fell in Ann Arbor, some of us were ready to rekindle the old flame.
Before we get to that, however, there are a couple maintenance items to catch you up on. First, the replacement taillight that we ordered several weeks ago finally arrived at our local dealership, and the BRZ now looks as good as new. Next, a new GPS antenna mount and navigation software upgrade were installed, again after we had to wait for the parts to arrive. Replacing the GPS antenna mount was a bigger job than expected, as it involved the dealership removing the navigation unit and digging deep into the dashboard. As for the navigation software upgrade, drivers haven't reported any more lost GPS signals, but it didn't make the interface any more user-friendly. Now the system works as designed, it just wasn't very well designed to start with.
Once the snow started to fall, we stopped complaining about the navigation system and focused on the performance of our Blizzak snow tires. The decision to run more performance-oriented winter tires was immediately called into question, as four or five inches of snow had accumulated by the time associate Web editor Evan McCausland left the office to drive home. "The only way for me to not get stuck on the second hill before my driveway was to flick the nose in toward the apex, goose the throttle, and slide the car through, rally-style. Dramatic? Yes. Fun? You bet. Did I get stuck? Nope. Do my neighbors think I'm insane? Absolutely."
Sure, pulling that maneuver off once is fun, but how did McCausland like spending a week in a sports car with limited ground clearance following a major snowfall? "As you might imagine, I wasn't exactly looking forward to the next day's commute -- or, for that matter, the next several days, as I was booked to keep the BRZ into the New Year -- but a funny thing happened: I learned to enjoy the car. With the stability nannies off, it was easy and entertaining to drift through corners; I could steer the car through a series of S-curves by my house with just a blip of the throttle in third or fourth gear and a bit of opposite lock. That the BRZ's chassis is so communicative made dialing in just the right amount of correction a breeze. The entire world suddenly became a special stage -- provided, of course, you kept enough momentum to get through the really deep stuff."
McCausland wasn't the only staffer who needed to keep up the BRZ's momentum to get home. Longtime BRZ detractor and associate web editor Donny Nordlicht faced a similar situation but came away with a different opinion: "Yes, powersliding through fresh powder can be fun, but it loses its novelty after the third time you are required to do it to get up your street and into your driveway." He continued, "I have a very hard time rationalizing why you would buy this over a Miata other than the fact that it's a coupe."
Associate web editor Jake Holmes, who previously criticized the BRZ's small cabin, didn't mind it so much this time around: "The heater works wonders and will absolutely cook occupants. In fact, I found myself turning the heater down to the middle temperature setting to avoid sweating. It certainly helps that the small cabin doesn't have much air to heat."
Check back next month to see if we're still sliding the BRZ through subdivisions out of necessity or whether Mother Nature deals us a better hand and we can comment on the dry-road performance of our Blizzak tires.