2013 Subaru BRZ

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2013 subaru brz Reviews and News

2013 Subaru BRZ Front Left Side View
We will admit that we never thought of Subaru as a sports-car maker. Yes, Subaru has made sporty, high-performance cars -- the WRX and STI, of course. But they were not sports car. Neither was the SVX, although it was cool in its own way, and the XT coupe before it, which was sort-of cool in a very weird way, was no sports car, either.
The Subaru BRZ, however, is very much a sports car, and it’s the kind we don’t see much anymore: light, lithe, fun, and affordable. That’s an unusual formula in this age of overpriced, overpowered image machines, but it’s not as strange as the circumstances that created it to begin with.

The Odd Couple

As you no doubt know, the BRZ was a joint effort between Toyota and Subaru, with both companies sharing the resulting sports car. The Toyota version will be sold as the Scion FR-S in the U.S. market, and as a Toyota elsewhere.
What set the stage for this joint product development was Toyota’s purchase of a small stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent company, back in 2005 (later increased in 2008). With Toyota guiding the product planning, it was decided that the two companies would collaborate to build a rear-wheel-drive sports car, the hope evidently being that having both brands selling it would increase sales for the inherently low-volume product. Toyota was responsible for the design, which is why the car looks more like a Toyota than a Subaru. The idea from the get-go was that the two firms would build a single sports car -- not two cars -- so visually differentiating them was not a priority. The very minor differences we do see, chiefly in the front end, were done late in the car’s development. In the interest of keeping the car’s cost down, precious few development dollars (well, yen) were spent to create different looks for Toyota (Scion in the USA) and Subaru. Subaru did the engineering on the car, although the company had to meet Toyota engineering targets as well as their own. Subaru also will assemble the coupes.

Let's Get Low

At a time when we so often hear about raised rooflines, higher beltlines, and the “command seating position,” it is unusual for an automaker to talk about the virtues of getting low. And yet that was an overriding factor driving the development of the BRZ. Going with a Subaru horizontally opposed four-cylinder, rather than one of Toyota’s many conventional in-line fours, got things off to a low start, as the flat four meant a much more squat engine, which was the first step to achieving a low center of gravity. This is an all-new boxer engine, and features such as a slimmer oil pan and uniquely designed intake and exhaust help make it more than 3 inches shorter than Subaru’s existing boxer four. That allowed a lower hood, a feature that is itself unusual, what with Europe’s pedestrian protection regulations necessitating additional space between the hood and the top of the engine. (Subaru’s workaround is a hood that is designed to absorb energy.) A low hood necessitated a forward-canted radiator and created the need for shorter front strut towers, which were redesigned accordingly. Even so, the vaguely Corvette-like fender swells are there to clear them and allow the rest of the front bodywork to sit lower. Speaking of sitting lower, in order for the driver to sit low in the car -- and afford decent headroom under the low (50.6-inch) roofline -- Subaru had to design special frame rails for the front seats.

Have a Seat

You do indeed sit low in this car -- the H-point is nearly 5 inches lower than an Impreza’s -- in seats that are firm, with prominent side bolsters. The dash, and the whole interior, is blessedly free of gimmicks -- save perhaps the keyless pushbutton ignition in the higher-trim model. Switchgear couldn’t be simpler. The blunt instrument panel is faced with aluminum trim, and that’s the biggest concession to style, although cheap materials have largely been avoided. A touch-screen navigation system will be standard in U.S. cars but it was not in the Euro-spec version we drove. The driving position is excellent, with fairly upright glass and modest pillars that afford a good view. The longish hood is framed by those two fender swells. The gauge cluster borrows from Porsche -- a round, central tachometer with a digital speedometer dominates, flanked on the left by the analog speedometer and on the right by gauges for fuel level and coolant temperature. The small, well-shaped steering wheel features red stitching. Headroom is surprisingly plentiful -- the roof incorporates a “double bubble” design -- so wearing a helmet on track day should be no problem. There is no sunroof, however. The car is a 2+2, but the rear seats are strictly theoretical. Headroom in back is extremely limited, and a taller-than-average driver is going to have his seat so far back that rear-seat riders will be hard-pressed to wedge a foot between the front seatback and their seat cushion. The rear seatback does fold down, however, exposing a wide pass-through to the 6.9-cubic-foot trunk.

On the road

We had previously driven the BRZ on a track, but we traveled to Cannes, in the south of France, for our first on-road drive, at an event for the European and the American press. The French Riviera might not seem like a natural environment for a Subaru -- and, indeed, there weren’t many Imprezas and Outbacks on the streets -- but it would soon become apparent why the roads here were perfect for this car.
First, though, we had to head out of town. The good visibility was welcome as we threaded our way through the traffic-choked streets. The BRZ is a shade smaller than a Nissan 370Z (half an inch shorter and some 2.5 inches narrower), but in European cities that makes it a medium-sized car.
The manual gearbox and clutch were easy to work; the transmission has short, positive throws, and the clutch travel and take-up are very natural. The ride over the surprisingly bumpy pavement was pretty stiff but we did not wish for a softer suspension setting.

Out of Town

Leaving the city behind, we climbed up into the Maritime Alps, the road scratched into the sheer rock hillsides. Here, the BRZ was totally in its element as the low center of gravity, the light weight (2762 to 2822 pounds depending on trim), and the effort to keep as much mass as possible in the center of the car all paid off. Turn-in is immediate, and with the road folded like an accordion, we turned in again and again. Instead of front-end push, there’s a great sense of balance almost like that of a mid-engine car. The stability control system offers an intermediate, sport mode, and also can be switched off altogether; still, you have to be trying to break this car loose. The Michelin Primacy rubber isn’t ultra-wide (the size is 215/45R17), but it gripped tenaciously, which was a good thing, given the steep drop-offs and rock walls that lined either side of the road. Lending a high degree of confidence is the BRZ’s steering, with effort levels that are spot-on for a sports car like this. It’s electrically assisted so feel is a little lacking but we loved the fast ratio (13:1) and predictable response.

Into the Great Wide Open

Eventually the climbing and the curves relented and we found ourselves in a high plateau. With barely another car in sight, we were really able to open up the 2.0-liter four. This engine shares nothing with the version in the Impreza and is the better for it, making considerably more power: 200 hp compared to 148 hp. The BRZ’s 151 pound-feet of torque doesn’t sound like a lot but nearly all of it is available across a broad rev band, from about 2500 rpm to 6500. Although you don’t have to rev the snot out of it, if you do, you find that this engine is much more free revving than the Impreza’s boxer four. Subaru estimates the 0-to-60-mph time at just under 7 seconds with the manual transmission. With a so-called Sound Creator channeling intake noise, keeping the engine on a boil in the 5000 to 6000 rpm range fills the cabin with the gritty engine note, which is definitely different than the Beetle-like sound of other Subaru engines.
In all, the BRZ offers a world of usable, accessible performance with a straightforward purity that’s rare today. And the car itself should be accessible to a broad swath of enthusiast drivers; Subaru hasn’t yet announced pricing, but we expect the base version to come in around $25,000. For about $2000 more, the Limited model adds leather-and-Alcantara upholstery, keyless ignition, heated seats, and a few lesser items. For either version, the only option is a six-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles.

More to come?

As intriguing as it is, the BRZ coupe has the potential for more. Although they cotton to no plans, Subaru engineers acknowledge that the new 2.0-liter four could work in other vehicles, and that there’s room in the BRZ to add a turbocharger. Additionally, they confirm that the BRZ was engineered for the possible eventuality of a convertible body style, so this sports coupe could potentially be a roadster as well. We wouldn’t expect anything to materialize until mid-cycle time -- say three years. Still, it’s good to know that this delectable coupe has the potential to be more than a one-shot wonder -- and a wonder it is.

2013 Subaru BRZ

On sale: April 2012
Base price: $25,000 (estimated)
Fuel economy:
22/30 mpg (manual)
25/34 mpg (automatic)
2.0L DOHC H-4
Horsepower: 200 hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm
6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 2762-2822 lb
17 x 7-inch wheels
215/45 R17 tires
2013 Subaru BRZ Front Three Quarters On Track
A half century or so ago, the car market was blossoming with sports cars. These were generally simple machines that were often unreliable and impractical -- and very often not particularly fast. They came with funny little names like MG and Triumph and Sunbeam and Alfa Romeo and Datsun, and their owners weren’t much concerned with zero to sixty. Or top speed. Or peak lateral acceleration. No, the cars had a simple task: to put a smile on your face.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve become lost. We’ve become obsessed with Nürburgring lap times and launch control, and modern sports cars are dying off. The Mazda RX-8 just breathed its last rotary breath. The Lotus Elise has retreated to its British shores. The Mazda Miata soldiers on, but generating nowhere near the sales numbers it once did.
And out of nowhere comes this (let’s be honest) totally doofus idea: Toyota and Subaru team up to build a rear-wheel drive, normally aspirated sports car. Oh right, Toyota, the purveyors of the Prius, plus Subaru, the company that makes turbocharged, all-wheel drive hotrods and a weird looking crossover thing that Melissa Etheridge fans adore? This was a recipe for disaster.
Out of the most disastrous recipes occasionally comes the most endearing dish, and this is one of those times. The BRZ is a delightfully fun car; a complete package that combines light weight and great handling with just enough power to have fun -- but not too much that you can only enjoy it for three seconds at a time.
For all the Internet armchair warriors complaining about the meager power output, let us be the first to say: the BRZ doesn’t need a turbo. It doesn’t WANT a turbo. And anyone who says the car should have a turbo is missing the point. Like the Mazda RX-8 and Miata, the Porsche 944 and original Boxster -- and all of those cars from decades ago -- the BRZ is fun because of handling, not because of a sledgehammer that hits when you mash the gas pedal.
The 2.0-liter flat-four engine produces 100 hp per liter, but it does so in a way unlike any other normally aspirated four-cylinder. It doesn’t rev to 8000 or even 7500 -- it’s not high-strung at all. Redlined at 7400 rpm, the flat-four soundtrack is mellow, and since the intake resonance tube pipes intake noise from only two cylinders into the cabin, it’s deep, staccato, and almost bi-plane in its exhaust note. There’s no screaming or wailing -- and once the tach needle moves past 2500 rpm, where there’s a big valve timing change, the torque curve remains effectively flat until just before 7000 rpm. It’s the flattest, broadest torque curve this side of an electric motor. This engine, code FA20, shares effectively no parts with the FB20, the 2.0-liter in other Subaru applications. It’s physically smaller than the other engines, and will be used only in the BRZ -- for now.
The six-speed manual transmission has a high-effort, short-throw shifter and a light clutch, and it’s a bit easy to stall the BRZ off the line because its flywheel weighs only 20 lb, some 9 less than an STI’s. The reduced reciprocating mass, along with the FA20’s shorter intake runners, means the engine responds more quickly to throttle blips, though, and the tradeoff is worth it. A six-speed Aisin automatic is optional; it can perform shifts with the torque converter locked, and blips the throttle on downshifts. It’s smooth, too. It’s great. But it’s the wrong transmission for this kind of driver’s car.
The BRZ, like so many other modern cars, uses electrically assisted steering. Subaru engineers say they went EPS for fuel economy and because it’s easier to tune than a hydraulic setup. They’ve done a fine job of tuning the effort -- it feels natural, building linearly with cornering loads. Like all EPS systems though, the additional rotational inertia of the assist motor dampens out most of the steering feel, and that’s a shame. Still, the rack-and-pinion system is highly accurate, and it’s quick, with an overall ratio of 13:1. The small (14.4-inch) steering wheel turns 2.5 turns from lock to lock.
The BRZ’s entire engineering mission was a low center of gravity and low polar moment of inertia (meaning that as much as possible of the vehicle’s mass is located inside the wheelbase and as low as possible.) Subaru says the BRZ has a lower center of gravity than everything but the Porsche Cayman R and 911 GT3, and that its polar moment of inertia is less than the (mid-engine) Porsche Cayman or Mazda RX-8.
While we certainly can’t verify those claims, after driving the BRZ on a handling course, we have no reason to doubt them, either. The BRZ turns in eeee-mediately with minimal, very well-controlled body roll. The front and rear of the car react in unison -- you never get the feeling that the two ends of the car are doing different things. The BRZ settles into steady-state understeer, but don’t let that fool you: the standard limited-slip differential allows you to nix that handily. Indeed under heavy throttle, the BRZ goes -- and stays -- neutral, and is incredibly easy to control at the limit. Breakaway at the rear is slow, deliberate, and progressive; the exact opposite of so many modern cars whose engineers seemed to only care about achieving maximum grip, not what happens when you exceed it.
Subaru made it very clear that the BRZ’s handling benchmark was the Porsche Cayman. We’re not sure exactly which benchmarks the engineers targeted, but from the wheel, we’re not feeling it. In lateral grip and turn-in response, sure -- but in chassis balance, the Porsche is in a different league. The Cayman exhibits slightly less understeer in terms of static balance, but the big difference is that the Porsche allows you to quickly and dramatically adjust the car’s line with the gas pedal. The BRZ won’t trailing-throttle oversteer; once it’s settled into a corner, the only way to adjust the line is to add power.
On the other hand, the BRZ is far, far easier to control because of it. To complain about the lack of corner-adjustability is unfair -- the Porsche is, after all, a mid-engine car that costs twice as much as the Subaru. That we’re even discussing them in the same sentence is a testament to how good the BRZ is.
It’s great in other ways, too -- it’s 9 inches shorter than the Cayman, but seats two additional people. The BRZ’s front seats are highly supportive and very comfortable, though the rears are for very short trips or very short passengers. Still, they’re there, and the rear seatback folds (as one piece) allowing enough room for a set of track tires, according to Subaru. That’s cool.
The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach, though even extended as far as it’ll go, it’s a long reach for long-legged drivers. And the pedals are spaced a bit too far for easy heel-and-toeing. Trunk space is meager, at 6.9 cubic feet, and Subaru made no mention of an available sunroof.
Not that we would have opened it on the course -- especially the high-speed oval. We saw an indicated 132 mph in the manual-transmission BRZ, and the 2.0-liter was still pulling. It seemed a long shot that it would make it to 143 mph, which is the estimated top speed an engineer gave us. On the other hand, a BRZ automatic couldn’t pull past 128 mph, and that same engineer estimates it will make it to 137 mph – so perhaps the track was headed up a slight grade. The manual transmission car should be able to hit 60 mph in just under 7 seconds; the automatic just over -- but there’s enough low-end torque to easily spin the 215/45-WR17 Michelin Primacy HP tires off the line.
Wait, wait, wait! The BRZ isn’t about the numbers! A sports car doesn’t need to look good in the stats box, it just needs to be a great drive. And the BRZ is a great drive. If you’re looking for smoking 0-60 numbers and crazy top speeds that you’ll never get to, there are certainly other cars that better fit your tastes. The BRZ needs a convertible top more than it needs a turbo -- because that, not horsepower, is the only thing holding this car back from being the modern-day equivalent of those wonderful 1960s sports cars.
2013 Subaru BRZ

On Sale: Late spring 2012
Estimated price range: $25,000 (base, includes navigation) to $28,000 (Limited)
Major options: leather/Alcantara seats, seat heaters, rear spoiler
Engine: 2.0L DOHC H-4. 200 hp @ 7000 rpm, 150 lb-ft @ 6400-6600 rpm
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed paddleshifted automatic
EPA: n/a (but Subaru promises 30 mpg highway)
2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ

New For 2013

Everything. The Subaru BRZ is a new model for 2013. Subaru and Toyota teamed up to build a sports car that’s sold around the world as the BRZ, the Scion FR-S, and the Toyota GT 86. This is exactly the car enthusiasts have been waiting for—2762 pounds, rear-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual transmission. This particular Subaru is more at home on a paved track than a gravel rally route because the BRZ is the only model in Subaru showrooms that isn’t all-wheel drive.


With the 2013 BRZ, Subaru has given car enthusiasts the world over a reason to be excited again. Although the Germans and the Americans build bigger, heavier, more powerful cars that post amazing performance numbers, the engineers at Subaru and Toyota (the Scion FR-S was developed alongside the BRZ) are offering a light, nimble sports car with just enough power to be fun. That means a 0-to-60-mph time of about seven seconds but a much bigger grin when you enter a curve. Don’t look for a ton of gimmicky equipment here. Subaru pretty much limits the luxury goodies to dual-zone climate control, heated seats, keyless ignition, and Alcantara upholstery. There’s also only one option: an automatic transmission that’s perfectly good but completely against this car’s mission in life—involving the driver. The focus on creating a pure sports car experience means a Torsen limited-slip differential is standard equipment as well as a five-mode traction-control system. Subaru understands this approach isn’t going to appeal to everyone and has set modest sales targets for the car. A pure driver’s car that’s expected to sell in low numbers? Sounds like Subaru has a future collectible classic on its hands. Perhaps that will help you convince your significant other that it’s an investment instead of a toy.


ABS; front, front side, and side curtain air bags; a tire-pressure monitoring system; and stability and traction control are standard.

You'll like:

  • Incredibly responsive
  • Easy to drive quickly

You won't like:

  • Understeers readily
  • Acceleration isn’t breathtaking

Key Competitors For The 2013 Subaru BRZ

  • Honda Civic Si
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata
  • Scion FR-S
Toyota Ft86 Open Concept Front Three Quarters 2
All may not be at ease in Toyobaru-land, with Subaru brand chief Yasuyuki Yoshinaga dismissing the notion of a drop-top Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S in an interview with Automotive News. The discussion took place at the 2013 Tokyo auto show, at which Toyota displayed yet another FR-S/GT86 convertible concept following the initial debut of the FT-86 Open concept (pictured above) at the 2013 Geneva auto show.
2013 Subaru BRZ Left Side View
Affordable, lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports cars don't come along every day -- or even every decade. So the arrival of the Subaru BRZ (and its Scion FR-S twin) was keenly anticipated. Staffers were all but rubbing their hands together at the notion of a Four Seasons test, which began when a galaxy blue silica BRZ pulled up outside our office last summer.
2014 Subaru BRZ Front Three Quarter
The 2014 Subaru BRZ sports coupe receives only the mildest of updates and price bumps for the new model year. In its second year on the market, the 2014 Subaru BRZ starts at $26,390 (including a $795 destination charge), an increase of $125 from last year's base price.
2013 Subaru Brz Ts Front Three Quarters
It’s official: Subaru’s teaser from two weeks ago was not for the long-awaited STI version of the Subaru BRZ. Instead, it was for this special edition of the BRZ only for Japan called the Subaru BRZ tS.
Brz Teaser 3
All the fuss over the Toyobaru sports car twins doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, as a new teaser for a long-rumored STI version of the Subaru BRZ was released yesterday on the Japanese STI website.

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2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ
Premium RWD 2-Dr Coupe I4
25 MPG City | 34 MPG Hwy
Top Ranking Vehicles - MPG
2013 Honda Civic
EX FWD 2-Dr Coupe I4
28 MPG City | 39 MPG Hwy
2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ
Premium RWD 2-Dr Coupe I4
25 MPG City | 34 MPG Hwy
2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ
Premium RWD 2-Dr Coupe I4
Top Ranking Vehicles - Price
2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ
Premium RWD 2-Dr Coupe I4
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2013 Subaru Brz Specifications

Quick Glance:
2.0L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
22 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
30 MPG
200 hp @ 7000rpm
151 ft lb of torque @ 6400rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats (optional)
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation
36,000 miles / 36 months
60,000 miles / 60 months
Unlimited miles / 60 months
36,000 miles / 36 months
Recall Date
Potential Units Affected

NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Best Pick
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength
IIHS Front Small Overlap

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