By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The 2015 Subaru BRZ is the only Subaru you can buy that isn't all-wheel drive. This rear-drive sports car is for purists who want something they can drive every day, but also take to their favorite mountain roads, or even to a weekend race event, without changing a thing. The BRZ delivers in a way few cars in this price range can. The precision steering, excellent chassis and suspension, and sheer playfulness remind drivers of early Mazda RX-7s or Datsun 280Zs, but with all the modern safety, technology, and traction-control enhancements you can find on a 21st-century car. While not the most powerful car out there, what it lacks in punch, it makes up for with poise.
If you want quick, agile, affordable fun, there's little out there that can match the 2015 Subaru BRZ, save its twin, the Scion FR-S. The styling is spot on, it has serviceable rear seats, and it even gets good fuel economy, making it a livable daily driver.
If you need raw power and torque, and the ability to win every stoplight drag race you get into, then the BRZ isn't the sports car for you. Seek out a domestic musclecar, with a V6 or, preferably, a V8 engine.
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The 2015 Subaru BRZ gets new shock absorbers this year to help smooth the ride, but without hurting handling. A limited special edition called "Series.Blue" is also available, featuring aerodynamic enhancements and unique paint colors.
If the Ford Mustang is Arnold Schwarzenegger, then the 2015 Subaru BRZ is Bruce Lee. Rather than use sheer muscle from a powerful engine, the lean and...
... mean Subaru BRZ uses a beautifully balanced suspension and chassis, a limited-slip differential, razor-sharp steering and quick reflexes to turn any twist in the road into a driver's playground. But there's more. The braking is also excellent, and the acceleration is brisk if not exactly breathtaking, and the manual transmission is excellent. The 2.0-liter engine isn't a power dynamo, but the car's lightweight body allows the engine's 200 horsepower to do their job without disappointment. Best of all, the BRZ is remarkably fuel efficient, its around-town ride won't beat you up, and it's nicely equipped, making it a very livable sports car for every day.
VOICE-ACTIVATED GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEM
The Scion FR-S and the Mazda MX-5 Miata both are available with a voice-activated navigation system. However, only the BRZ comes with one as standard equipment.
IMPRESSIVE FUEL ECONOMY
Usually, sports cars sacrifice fuel economy for performance. However, despite the BRZ's excellent driving dynamics, it still gets very good fuel economy – up to 34 mpg highway with an automatic transmission.
Technically, the BRZ has rear seats, but we feel sorry for anybody who has to spend any length of time there. It's better to just fold them down and use the 2015 Subaru BRZ as a 2-seat sports car. The front seat passengers will find plenty of room once they make their way into the low-slung cockpit. There's good head room even for tall drivers, and the seats are very supportive, but comfortable for longer drives. The interior isn't particularly fancy, but it's good enough, and the all-important steering-wheel/pedal placement/shifter relationship is among the best you'll find.
If you park the 2015 Subaru BRZ next to a Scion FR-S, and you'll be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The fact is, besides some minor details, the 2015 BRZ and FR-S are identical twins. This year, the Series.Blue limited edition provides a bit more visual distinction, with two unique colors: 500 will be in WR Blue Pearl, and 500 in Crystal White Pearl. A long hood, an abbreviated trunk and a squat, planted stance all hint at the BRZ's sporting credentials. In person Subaru's coupe has a more charming presence than in pictures due to its small, athletic dimensions.
The 2015 Subaru BRZ comes standard with a Torsen limited-slip differential, a navigation system with 6.1-inch touch screen, six airbags and an 8-speaker audio system with auxiliary and USB inputs.
If you want a bit more dazzle for your 2015 BRZ, you can step up to the Limited model, which adds heated seats with Alcantara inserts and leather bolsters, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lights, keyless entry and engine start, and a rear spoiler. You can also get an automatic transmission. The Series.Blue adds the special paint, plus red-painted brake calipers and a few aerodynamic enhancements.
While we've long harbored hopes that Subaru will put one of its turbocharged engines under the hood, for now, we're satisfied with the 2015 Subaru BRZ's standard engine: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder producing 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the engine's horizontally opposed layout, the
Subaru BRZ boasts an extremely low center of gravity, which means more of its weight is closer to the ground. That enhances the sports car's handling abilities. Engine power is sent to the rear wheels via a standard 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic transmission.
200 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
151 lb-ft of torque @ 6,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg (manual), 25/34 mpg (automatic)
The 2015 Subaru BRZ Premium trim has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just below $26,500. The fancier Limited trim adds $2,000 to the total, or $3,000 if you want an automatic transmission. The new Series.Blue limited edition costs a bit more than $30,000. It's priced a little higher than its sports-car competitors – the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Hyundai Genesis Coupe – but keep in mind that the BRZ offers an all-inclusive package unlike the others whose many options and trim variations can drive up the bottom line. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what other BRZ buyers in your area are paying for their cars. Over a 5-year period, we expect the Subaru BRZ to retain its resale value much more than its American and Korean rivals.