Road Test: 2016 Subaru BRZ

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2016 Subaru BRZ
The BRZ Is Simply Great Looking

Let’s get one thing straight. Don’t buy the 2017 Subaru BRZ for its looks. Don’t buy the BRZ because you like its price. You should only buy the BRZ because you like to drive. And I mean really like to drive.

2016 Subaru BRZ
2016 Subaru BRZ

If you’re someone who looks forward to climbing behind the wheel every morning no matter how drab the commute, if you volunteer to run to the store every chance you get just so you can have a little more wheel time, then the BRZ is your ticket to enlightenment.

You won’t like the BRZ if you’re a power-person. If you live and die by the feeling of mashing the throttle and feeling the engine leap to life, this sporty Subaru won’t deliver. It has a whopping 200 horsepower. It works, but only if you know just how to use it.

Here’s an analogy. I used to own a 14 foot sailboat called a Laser. It’s actually an Olympic class boat designed primarily for one person. It’s also a pocket rocket. Catch the wind just right, handle the sail and tiller properly and you practically fly over the water. Or you could just jump onto a jet ski and twist the throttle. Both are fun, but the Laser leaves you with an incredible feeling of both speed and satisfaction.

By now you’re probably guessed that the BRZ is the sailboat.

Use the gears just right (and you should really only buy it with a manual transmission), manage the engine RPMs, dive into the corners with a little more speed than you normally would, and the BRZ will give you a constant smile.

2016 Subaru BRZ
Subaru Calls This HyperBlue

Subaru’s BRZ is a joint venture with Toyota. The BRZ and the Toyota 86 (formerly called the Scion FR-S) are essentially twins. The most obvious Subaru contribution was the four-cylinder boxer engine. Boxer is another way of saying the pistons are horizontally opposed. Instead of moving up and down in a row of four cylinders like most cars, this engine has two on either side, moving in and out. It’s like two boxers throwing punches at one another. The engine also uses Toyota’s fuel injection system. The official EPA ratings show it gets 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with a combined number of 25 mpg. Frankly, I did much better without even trying. I averaged 28 mpg during my week and I wasn’t gentle at all.

If you’re looking for a soft comfortable ride, the BRZ isn’t your car. It’s not harsh, but it definitely is stiffer that a lot of folks will like.

2016 Subaru BRZ
The BRZ Is Simply Great Looking

Not only is the engine the same as the Toyota 86, but the body and interior are nearly identical as well. There are some minor variations, but most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Frankly, that’s not a bad thing. The shape is very attractive. So much so, that it’s almost surprising when you finally stand next to it and realize it’s not very big. Kind of like a short leading man. You just assume he’s bigger because he looks the part.

2016 Subaru BRZ Interior
2016 Subaru BRZ Interior

Inside, the BRZ is just as attractive. The seats are very comfortable and the dashboard is functionally attractive. My test car had a carbon fiber looking finish across the dash. I also liked the row of toggle-like switches below the entertainment display.¬† Incidentally, the BRZ will accommodate taller leading men as well. You’ll notice that it has a raised section above the driver and passenger’s heads. It gives just an extra couple of inches. I’m six feet tall and felt there was still plenty of room.

It’s easy to draw a comparison with the Mazda Miata. After all, both are small fun to drive sports cars. But if you’re looking for extra room, the BRZ wins without a contest. That’s because the Miata is a convertible and has to find room to fold away the top. The BRZ comes only in coupe form. It even has a back seat. OK, it’s not a real back seat. There was basically no place to put someone’s legs with the front seat moved towards the back. But it does at least give you someplace to stow something. Plus, you get a decent sized trunk that the Miata can’t match.

BRZ Rear Seat
The BRZ Rear Seat Isn’t Much

There are two basic editions, Premium and Limited. However, my test car was the BRZ Series.HyperBlue model. Only 500 were offered in 2016. You get Hyper Blue paint (which looks a lot like a Smurf) with matching interior trim. Final price for my test car was a very reasonable $28,485.

Please think carefully before you buy a Subaru BRZ. It’s not just another pretty face. It is, however, a car that will bring you plenty of joy once you take the time to earn it.

 

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