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Driving Impressions:
2013 Subaru BRZ


We Finally Meet



For decades, I’ve been intrigued by and desired a number of sports cars. All of them promised intimate travel, efficient use of space, little cargo room, and, most important, a fun drive! Few of them had excessive power, but they all offered remarkable handling. All were rear drive. Plus, most of them were affordable.


In 2008, I started watching the rumors and development of the BRZ. From the beginning, it had all the promise of making my list of desired sports cars. Speculation in the auto industry is always frustrating: Your hopes rise at one announcement and are dashed by the next. Powertrain, price, size – all were subjects of rumor. Finally, the official photos and information were released and met with relief as well as joy.


My first sighting of an in-the-metal BRZ was in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It was rotating on a platform – so close, but out of reach. I had to wait almost three more months before I could get to know one in person! Patience is always demanded when waiting to drive (and own!) a new car.


I met the subject of the drive in a parking lot outside Roanoke, Virginia. It was a Galaxy Blue Silica BRZ Limited with a 6-speed automatic transmission and navigation.


The first surprising aspect of the BRZ is its height. Specifications list it at 50.6 inches. The WRX I had just swapped for the BRZ is listed at 58.1 inches, but that 7.5 inches makes a world of difference! Although I’m of average height, I felt like a giant next to the car. You have to walk up to it to appreciate how short 50.6 inches is.


The BRZ’s exterior curves and bulges make it visually interesting. There are bumps in the roof and bulges on the hood above the front wheels. The roof slopes to the rear deck in a manner reminiscent of sports cars of the early 1970s. The vehicle that I drove had a rear wing, which adds appealing angles and curves.


With one look inside the BRZ, I felt compelled to climb in. The invitation wasn’t to play with the buttons and controls, but to grab the wheel and go!


So I did. I lowered myself into the driver’s seat and swung in my legs. Once inside, there’s ample room.


You have great visibility from the driver’s seat. The door-mounted exterior rearview mirrors make way for the front quarter windows, as per the 2012 Impreza. There’s not much interruption to a sweep from one side to another.


Acclimating myself to the car in terms of seating position and controls took only a few miles. Since the drive, I’ve read quite a few reports from automotive journalists, and one made the point that a person 6 feet in height and wearing a helmet fits in this car!


Becoming accustomed to the 6-speed automatic took a little longer, because I’m used to manual transmissions. Having the shift paddles gave me most of the feeling of control that I enjoy with a manual.


After setting mirrors and learning how to operate the start/stop button, the first thing I did was drive approximately a mile and a half to a car wash. In that short distance, the BRZ revealed its character – it turned quickly with no body roll, and I felt my body’s positioning behind the relatively long nose and right in front of the rear wheels.

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