2014 Subaru BRZ
Superb, balanced handling; quick, responsive steering; rev-happy engine; classic sports-car look and feel; strong feature set; standard navigation system
The 2014 Subaru BRZ comes in Premium or Limited different trim levels, and both are offered with either a standard 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic transmission. While performance is the same between the two trims, Limited models gain a rear spoiler, fog lamps and some additional interior appointments, including keyless start, dual-zone climate control, heated seats and mirrors and upgraded seats with more bolstering and suede-like trim.
All BRZ models include more standard features than the typical performance car in this price range. A touch-screen navigation system, integrated with 8-speaker sound and voice controls, is included even at the base Premium level and it includes Bluetooth hands-free and Bluetooth audio streaming capability, along with iPod controls. Power windows, locks and mirrors are also included, plus a trip computer and rear defrost. The shift knob and parking brake lever are leather-trimmed.
Interior appointments for the BRZ are about as is expected for a performance-oriented coupe--not luxurious, but a step above economy cars. The overall height is just 50.6 inches, yet Subaru has managed to position the seats in a way that taller drivers will have several inches of headroom above (and there's space for a race helmet for those weekend racers). Rear seatbacks flip forward to open up a trunk pass-through, and while the 6.9-inch-cubic-foot trunk is small, it's shaped well enough for two standard golf bags, a couple of small weekend bags or, Subaru notes, four tire-shod wheels for track excursions.
Performance is the BRZ's true focus. Built on an all-new rear-wheel-drive platform aimed at being lean and low, the BRZ weighs only 2,800 pounds and has one of the lowest centers of gravity of any production car. Power is provided by a Subaru 2.0L horizontally opposed "boxer" 4-cylinder engine fitted with direct injection that makes 200 horsepower. The 6-speed manual is the best way to enjoy the rev-happy engine, although the 6-speed automatic allows a sporty side (with a Sport mode) when shifted manually through the steering-wheel paddle shifters, which includes rev-matching downshifting. Fuel economy ratings are surprisingly good--estimated up to 25 mpg city, 34 highway with the automatic.
Thanks to a quick ratio rack-and-pinion system, the BRZ's has fast, excellent steering. The front strut, rear multi-link suspension system, along with a front suspension brace, altogether give the BRZ a firm but comfortable enough ride paired with crisp steering response. A Torsen limited-slip rear differential helps deliver power in a surefooted way out of corners, while a multi-mode electronic stability control system helps keep it safe. The stability control system also includes a Sport mode as well as a full-off mode.
Despite the BRZ's performance focus and attention to weight savings, there's no sign of any compromise in safety. In addition to stability control, all BRZ models include front side airbags, side-curtain bags and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist.
The BRZ has been an instant hit for Subaru. After its introduction last year it remains mostly unchanged for 2014. Minor improvements to the entertainment system make smartphone integration easier than last year.
The BRZ was designed and engineered for performance, and it's neither a chopped version of a sedan nor a performance version of more basic coupe; so it's impressive that the BRZ is priced so affordably. With pricing that starts at $26,390 and less than $30,000 in top-of-the-line Limited form, the BRZ is one of the best performance deals for weekend racers, or anyone who judges performance cars by how well they tackle the corners. In this way, the BRZ delivers the kind of performance bargain enthusiasts crave. It also makes enough sense for daily driving, with enough features to make commuters happy plus EPA highway estimates of up to 34 mpg.
* EPA mileage estimates and EPA fuel economy methods based on models beginning with
the indicated model year. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models
before the indicated model year. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how
you drive and maintain your vehicle.