Pros: "Subaru reliability & resale value, fantastic drive"
Cons: "Touchscreen radio controls, black interior only"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've always been a fan of the Mazda MX-5/Miata, meaning I appreciate refined handling more than raw horsepower in a sports car. The BRZ is like an MX-5 except with a fixed roof. Therefore it's a niche car among niche cars: a sports car, and one that doesn't rely on neck-snapping power for thrills. In other words the BRZ won't appeal to everyone, or even to all sports car buyers.
That said, if you enjoy the spirit of the MX-5 but don't want a convertible, read on. Or better yet, call your Subaru dealer now, then read on.
Since I could write a book on how much I like my BRZ, I'll confine my review by following KBB's points above and then add a couple more comments.
1 - Value: My 2013 BRZ is a "Limited" trim and its total msrp was $27,495. There are no further options to drive up the price. This is what I paid for it as well, no dealer mark-up. All I can say here is yes, it's a good value. You may not get better handling/braking/steering/shifting car for twice the price. You certainly won't get it for the same price.
2 - Reliability: I only have 800 miles on the car so I can hardly comment on reliability from my own experience, other than noting it's clearly very well-built. So I rated it a 10 based more on Subaru's big success in reliability and resale value with its other models. So far no sign this car will be different.
3 - Quality: Not a 10, but only because some of the interior plastic isn't as nice as it could be. Specifically the inside lower door plastic, forming the the door cupholders, is way too thin. Some of the control knobs aren't the most impressive either.
4 - Overall: Not a 10 here either, but close...
5 - Driving Dynamics: Superb. I won't go on because you can read all about it in the auto reviews. You just have to experience it, the more treacherous the road the better. A 90-year old grandmother would have no trouble zooming around hairpin turns because the car inspires so much confidence. Which wouldn't be a good thing if it didn't deliver, but this car does!
On the other hand, the BRZ definitely could use a bit more torque - low-end grunt - but in the horsepower department, 200 is more than enough for a vehicle this light (2776 lbs).
6 - Design: The interior only comes in all-black which I don't like, but that's a subjective thing of course. I'm not a big fan either of the look of Alcantara, but it does hold you in place. The interior looks fresh, a bit spare (which I like), and not at all gimmicky like some other cars in this class. The steering wheel is clean and simple and feels just fantastic. One will end up in MOMA at some point. The aluminum pedals look and feel great too.
Three fake-chrome trim pieces (the interior door handles, the pushbutton surround and the handbrake release button) look just bizarre in contrast to the rest of the nice matte silver interior trim. Subaru's attempt to standardize these pieces across their model range backfires in the BRZ.
The exterior was designed by Toyota, their only part in the project. It disappointed me when the BRZ/FR-S was only available in pictures, but in person looks a lot better, from some angles even really good. Certainly everyone else has complimented me on it. There's no denying that the car looks tight and compact, it's just not particularly original.
7 - Comfort & Convenience: The front seats are probably the most comfortable you'll ever sit in in a car, although wider bodies have reported feeling a little tight in them. The back seats are useless except for storage purposes, and the car would have been better off designed as a 2-seater from the start. This would have narrowed the doors a bit, although they're much more user-friendly in tight parking spots than doors on most 2+2 coupes, which have to be wide enough to allow access to the back seats.
Ingress/egress requires some flexibility (!), but the BRZ is a low-slung sports car, after all.
Visibility - always a big deal for me - is the best you'll find in a sports car. Forward visibility is panoramic, you see exactly where the front wheels are. Rearward is good too but the trunkline is high. Unfortunately the center stoplamp is just obnoxious, I don't think I'll ever stop glancing in the mirror thinking another car is on my tail... Rear 3/4 visibility is, well, better than in a top-up convertible, but the back windows are really just small triangles of light. If your seats are not positioned too far back, and your neck isn't arthritic, you may just see out of them.
The Limited comes with all sorts of convenience features (which the Premium trim lacks, as does the Scion FRS), you can read about them on the Subaru website. The keyless entry (doors and trunk) and pushbutton start are great conveniences. The radio/navigation screen isn't, I'll never prefer pressing a screen over the fine control you have turning a knob.
Noise - You'll be pleasantly surprised, the BRZ is actually pretty quiet! That is, until you get near 4000 rpm during hard acceleration. That's when the interior resonator pipe - intentionally designed to bring in 2 cylinders-worth of noise to the cabin - kicks in. I don't like it and may have my dealer muffle mine, but otherwise the BRZ is less noisy than other small cars I've driven, certainly less than other sports cars."
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