To be honest, this isn't what I had planned for the Subaru BRZ's January update. I'm parked on I-90 in a whiteout blizzard wondering how well the snow tires will work in the rapidly accumulating snow -- if I ever get moving again.
I really wanted to be in a southern state testing our R-compound tires right now, but life doesn't always go according to plan. So, instead of validating Subaru's claim that a set of track-specific wheels and tires can easily fit in the BRZ, I'm driving to Wisconsin with an empty cargo hold that I plan to fill with New Glarus beer. New Glarus may not be the most famous brewery in the world, but it's absolutely one of the best. Dan and Deb Carey do a better job of brewing to style than any American brewery whose products I've sampled. They also believe in indigenous brews, so their beer is sold only in the great state of Wisconsin. The closest store with a good selection of New Glarus is Woodman's Food Market in Kenosha, Wisconsin. That's 325 miles from my house.
Why take the BRZ on this trip? For one, I need to write twelve monthly updates on the car, and it hasn't been on a significant road trip since it entered our Four Seasons fleet. It's also a good way to test the updates that were recently performed on the navigation system. Finally, the 6.9-cubic-foot trunk capacity means I can't bring home too much beer, which makes my wife happy.
Back to the traffic jam on I-90. I seriously contemplate giving up on the trip before I reach Chicago. Thanks to the blizzard, visibility is only about 20 feet and, even with Blizzak winter tires, the BRZ is not my first choice for long-distance winter driving. I decide to stick with it, if only to meet a friend for lunch in Chicago. After the traffic jam clears, the snowfall gets heavier. I cautiously creep along the Skyway and think of ways to break the bad news to my friends back home, who have been promised bottles of New Glarus Raspberry Tart. When I exit the final tollbooth on the Skyway, the sky and the road are clear. No point in turning around now.
Traffic through downtown Chicago isn't an issue at 9:30 in the morning, and I arrive in Kenosha only fifteen minutes behind schedule. Ten minutes and $198 later, the trunk is half full of New Glarus beer and I'm entering the address for Hot Doug's Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium into the BRZ's navigation system. I'm not so fond of the process that's required for entering the address, but the navigation system does provide an accurate ETA and very good routing to the restaurant. Most important, the GPS signal is never lost.
After a fantastic lunch at Hot Doug's, I drive a few miles to a Chicago beer store and collect some DeSchutes, Firestone Walker, and Green Flash. By now the trunk is pretty packed, but Three Floyds Brewing Company is on the way home if I skip the Skyway. I can almost taste their Zombie Dust pale ale as I punch in the address for Three Floyds and head to Munster, Indiana. Again, the prescribed route is perfect, but Three Floyds is out of Zombie Dust. Alpha King and Gumballhead fill the few gaps in the trunk.
I thought the BRZ was going to be a terrible choice for this 664-mile mostly interstate journey. The Subaru is a bit loud on the highway and requires a lot more attention than anything else in our Four Seasons fleet when there's snow on the ground, but after you've spent some time in the snow and learn how the BRZ handles it, you'll have a riot. I found that in these conditions, the BRZ is easiest to drive with the electronic aids fully defeated. The car is so well balanced that it's not hard to keep pointed straight with the nannies off. If you leave them on or in sport mode, the brake-based stability control system halts forward progress and can actually make minor slides turn into a full spin should you lift off the accelerator.
The BRZ is not my first choice for a wintery road trip, but it is fully capable of making one if it's your only car. The navigation now works as it was designed to, and the seats are surprisingly comfortable and supportive. I certainly would have had more fun driving to a warmer state and sneaking in a day of track time in January, but I learned a lot more about the BRZ by driving it through a snowstorm instead.