By on November 25, 2016

2017 Subaru BRZ Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

2017 Subaru BRZ

2.0-liter BOXER four-cylinder, DOHC, direct/port injection, Dual Active Valve Control System (205 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm; 156 lbs-ft @ 6,400-6,800 rpm)

Six-speed manual (opt. six-speed automatic w/ paddle shifters), rear-wheel drive

21 city/29 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

11.1 city/8.0 highway/9.7 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $26,315 (U.S.) / $29,745 (Canada)

As Tested (Limited/Sport-Tech): $28,465 (U.S.) / $31,745 (Canada)

Prices include $820 destination charge in United States and $1,750 CAD for PDI and A/C tax in Canada.

Back in May of this year, TTAC reported the list of changes coming for the 2017 Subaru BRZ and asked if what amounted to a rather modest workover would get consumers excited enough to reverse the sports coupe’s declining sales trend.

Having spent a week acting barely responsible in Subaru’s only two-wheel-drive offering, my belief is no, the BRZ will not buck the trend. After commuting in it, doing school pick up duty and grocery runs — all in a most irresponsible way, revving the little four-cylinder boxer engine to redline again and again — I expect there will be a blip on the sales radar this year. Sadly, I also expect the BRZ (and its Toyota 86 twin) to slowly slip into automotive obscurity.

This terribly depressing thought has mostly to do with declining overall consumer interest in fun, driver-oriented cars, and it does nothing to celebrate what a wildly fun machine this is.

Full disclosure: I specifically requested to review the BRZ because it was at the top of my next-car shopping list. Small, sporty, RWD machines with proper manual transmissions are becoming rarer than un-crashed Mustangs at Cars and Coffee events, so this thing holds tremendous appeal.

2017 Subaru BRZ Top-down Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

The BRZ is a good looking car — low, sleek — and even after years of familiarity, I still find they catch my eye on the open road. The visual updates for 2017 are nominal, including a reworked front fascia and LED lights, plus a new aluminum spoiler. If you liked the look before, you’re likely pleased with the updates. If not, well, this new one probably won’t do it for you either.

Inside, the changes are equally ostensible. The infotainment system — a version of Subaru’s StarLink set up — is a bit of an improvement over last year’s system, though this one still features a dull, low-res, 6.1-inch touchscreen and map graphics that look a generation or two out of date. Operation is straightforward enough and credit to Subaru for including the navigation as standard fare on even the cheapest-trim BRZ.

2017 Subaru BRZ Instrument Panel, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

My Canadian Sport-Tech trim car (Limited trim in the US) also offered heated seats, dual-zone climate control, push-button start and new for 2017, a 4.2-inch multi-function display nestled into the right-most circle of the primary gauge pod. That display can be dialed in to show oil and coolant temperatures, voltage, trip computer info, a g-meter or a lap timer — all of which are controlled by the buttons that have newly mushroomed out of the BRZ’s steering wheel.

2017 Subaru BRZ Steering Wheel Buttons, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

The seats were – and remain – comfortable and fairly supportive, even for aggressive driving (though they’re not as ideally suited for track duties as say, the Recaros found in a Fiesta ST). There are some areas of hard and cheap plastics throughout the interior, but this is an affordable car, and the overall design is both functional and stylish.

A large part of the appeal of this car for me — as opposed to, oh, say that other tiny two-door, RWD sportster from Mazda — is Subaru’s attempt at back seat accommodations. When I last reviewed a Scion FR-S, my then-five-year old son was diminutive enough to fit without too much trouble. Now nearly seven, he continues to grow, and on a few occasions he found his little feet getting squashed when the front passenger seat was pushed back to a position suitable to contain a human. Any semblance of practicality I’d held kinda flew out the window at this point.

2017 Subaru BRZ Front Seats, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

That rear seat does fold down as a single unit, opening up the 6.9 cubic foot cargo space to accommodate a full set of track wheels and tires, which the BRZ still desperately needs. As before, the tires Subaru thinks are suitable for a sports car are the same ones found on the top-trim Toyota Prius. They howl and protest at the hard work of speedy cornering, and give up their grip on asphalt quicker than a car with such a good suspension has any right doing.

The argument for these tires is, of course, they allow drivers to break the back end loose into amusing drifts with relatively little effort, despite the engine’s meagre output. And indeed it’s easy to control those drifts thanks to Subaru’s efforts to take what was already one of the best-handling sports cars out there and improve upon it.

2017 Subaru BRZ Wheel, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

Spring rates have been tweaked (softened, in fact, in the rear), but the rear anti-roll bar is stiffer and the dampers improved, adding to a livelier handling machine than before that also rides slightly better. The stability-control system has a new “Track” setting allowing for a little more playfulness, and the Torsen limited-slip differential is still part of the package. These changes conspire to create a car with tremendous track potential, were it not for those tires (which, of course, can be easily replaced).

The BRZ has suffered plenty of internet abuse and been dismissed by many potential buyers for the feeble punch of its 2.0-litre four-cylinder Boxer engine. I’ll admit, during the first few stoplights and on ramps, I concluded pretty quickly that I didn’t think I could live with a car with such wheezy mid-range power. I’ve been drinking from the fountain of turbos for the past few years and have grown to like them and their corruptive power.

2017 Subaru BRZ Front, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

Still, it should be stated Subaru has made some updates to the engine, bumping the power for six-speed manual models up to 205 horsepower from 200. Torque is also up 5 to 156 lb-ft – still lower than a Honda Civic. Not a new sporty Civic Type-R, or even the upcoming Si, mind you, but the same Civic you see everywhere driven by everyone that weighs only about 100-pounds more than the BRZ.

The little Subie isn’t actually slow; it’s just that it’s not quick by modern standards. I get that this is a car all about balance and too much power would completely change its personality, but even a reasonable 250 hp — or, better yet, more torque — would make the already-great BRZ absolutely amazing. Subaru claims there’s simply not enough room under the BRZ’s hood for the extra plumbing required for forced induction. That’s a shame since WRX power would be just answer, especially with its crisp-shifting, short-throw, six-speed manual transmission.

2017 Subaru BRZ Center Console, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

Curiously, Subaru has reportedly beefed up the block and differential, despite its mediocre 5-point increase in torque and horsepower. It appears, however, that this has more to do with preserving longevity for those hell-bent on modifying their cars rather than a sign of a future STI variant.

A new turbo Mustang or Camaro solves the BRZ’s power deficit, but both of the pony cars – as accomplished performers as they’ve become – still feel large and ponderous compared to the tidy and frenetic BRZ. This is why it’s such a shame that Subaru seems to have only gone part way in making their little coupe as great as it can be; a change that might’ve earned the BRZ more internet respect and honor it deserves.

2017 Subaru BRZ Rear 3/4, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

There’s no question the BRZ is one of the most fun new cars available today.  Few machines offer such a raw and visceral driving experience these days without being complete track machines or extremely expensive toys. The BRZ demands its drivers to learn to really drive, especially on the track. It’s ridiculously engaging and raw in a way that so few contemporary cars are.

Subaru will continue to sell some BRZs, but since it’s just a little too impractical and a little short on the performance, they won’t be selling one to me.

[Images: © 2016 Jeff Wilson]

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65 Comments on “2017 Subaru BRZ Review – Better, Not Best...”


  • avatar
    S197GT

    so…. as someone who was legitimately considering purchasing one and actually test drove one… if it had 250 hp (or turbo torque), and your performance desires were satisfied, would it have been enough to make you overlook the practical issues?

    (also given a small price bump of say $1500-$2000).

    did subaru lose another sale for lack of HP/torque only?

    • 0 avatar
      jeanbaptiste

      For me, an enthusiast father and recent new car buyer in the 25,000 range, it’s the lack of practical back seat space that kills it. The power is something that just makes the car less enjoyable on a daily basis but isn’t a deal killer. Nor are the 2 doors a full stop. It’s the lack of 4 passengers spaces makes it impossible to use on a daily basis.

      After purchasing a turbo car, I don’t know if I would want to suffer the daily pain of a non-turbo 4 anymore . too old to want to wait for the power.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        My kids are gone so I like this car. Except I really need a hatch, especially on a small car. Would that extra utility help this car sell more? I doubt it, but maybe maybe for me it would have.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      I could live with it. My daughter sat in the back of Neon through her middle school years, and it’s about the same space. But if you have 2 kids, I say forget about it, buy something else and wait to get a fun car until they fly out of the nest.

  • avatar
    B_C_R

    I love how this whole “Prius tires” thing has maintained as much traction as the urban legend that it is. Yes, you could find the Prius shod with the Michelin Primacy HP, but only on a specific trim level in a Japanese spec Prius.

    They are OEM tires for many other vehicles from Mercedes, Audi and many others.

    Please stop regurgitating this old anecdote, as it doesn’t really lend anything to the narrative of this story any longer.

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      i disagree.

      tires are one of the most important factors in the performance and feel of a vehicle.

      manufacturer application means nothing with out specific models being mentioned:

      michelin says “This summer tire delivers precise wet and dry handling and is original equipment on luxury touring vehicles like Lexus GS 430, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6.”

      no one is saying it is a bad tire. michelin makes, in general, some of the best tires. but saying this is a MB e-class (vs a prius) tire wouldn’t make it any better! would make most enthusiasts say, “huh…”

      this is not a big fat luxury touring vehicle. it’s an odd choice of tire regardless and one of a few decisions that they got wrong that has prevented this vehicle from being more successful.

    • 0 avatar
      raisingAnarchy

      I think you’re missing the point. The “Prius tire” nickname comes from the fact that a no-season tire like a Michelin Primacy HP is designed to maximize fuel economy and treadwear over traction and other performance-oriented metrics.

      It’s more of a dysphemism for the tire choice of an OEM’s sports car rather than a literal comparison between a BRZ and a Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        The Primacy isn’t designed to maximize tread wear or fuel economy. The Primacy HP is a summer touring tire and not max performance summer. The Energy Saver A/S is the max fuel economy tire (albeit at a limited tread life, Michelin has other tires where tread life is maximized like the Defender).

        I suspect these tire were chosen precisely because they eschew ultimate grip and contribute to the fun to drive factor by allowing the car to slide around turns and wag its tail out while still providing some decent steering response and a comfortable ride.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    These things should have been Impreza sedans/hatches. Regular AWD base/Outback models for the [redacted], WRX for the backwards cap bros, RWD versions for the connoisseurs. Make the engine a ~220 2.5L H4, done. Make the Legacy not completely bland and do the same with the 3.6 H6, done done. Subaru could out Mazda Mazda.

    Nobody wants sport coupes any more. With cars like the GTI/WRX/FioST, unless you really love the looks of a coupe, they are completely pointless.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Your hip point is only about half as high in this car, as in a hot hatch. Totally different feel when driven. Then there’s rwd instead of fwd/awd. Which also lends a very different personality. And compared to a compact 4/5 door, the doors on this one is much more appropriately sized for adults, than the fronts in the former. And so on and so on…… Totally different car altogether.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Well I still think they should have made these things sedans. Call them “Impreza coupes”, keep them RWD, maybe make them hatchbacks like the A7. Pickups, SUVs, coupes… people just don’t buy 2 seat cars anymore that aren’t named “Corvette” or “Miata”.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      BOOM!

      Absolutely. The time for completely useless cars is over. Make this thing upright with a useable hatch and back seat and I would have been SO into it. A RWD GTI? Hell yes. Even something that was proportioned more like a Kia Soul with BRZ guts would have sold better.

      There are only so many 20-something pizza delivery guys who are willing to buy these, and that’s the problem. The market matured, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

    • 0 avatar
      BRFYuri

      Cars like the GTI/WRX/FioST are exactly why The BRZ/86 needs to exist. Not everyone wants their fun to drive car to look like a boring econobox, especially with the added ugliness of rear doors if you have zero use for them. The cars you mention already exist, so why would the BRZ be better if it had to compete directly as yet another upright hot hatch? Providing the choice to enthusiasts to have a car that doesn’t fit into the hot hatch/sedan cookie cutter mold benefits everyone.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    The car has the proper amount of power.

    Remember this is an enthusiast car,not a sports car. That’s a good thing,because with the latter you just can’t drive them at the limit in day to day environments. Getting nailed with a triple digit ticket is expensive, as is crashing at that speed.

    • 0 avatar
      B_C_R

      It’s the spiritual successor of the Toyota Corolla AE-86, which wasn’t a muscle car, or a hypercar or any other kind of car, except for a cheap, RWD fun to toss around car.

      Had Subaru/Toyota loaded this thing to the gills with horsepowers, turbos and big brakes and maybe a V6, or heck, why not a V8 — you’d have a heavy, expensive Lexus IS250F? It’s worth noting that the IS250F comes from your friendly Lexus dealer with Bridgestone Turanza tires. No Prius tires for you!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The Corolla had a lovely rev-happy engine. One of those engines that just wants to build revs all the time. This doesn’t. It just slogs through the rev range like the econobox motor it desperately wants to be. This car with something like the Abarth 1.4T in it would be sublime. It doesn’t need more power, it just needs a fun injection.

        • 0 avatar
          B_C_R

          The drop in mid-range torque is noticeable. I think it’s due in part to the poorly designed exhaust. Look at the flow of the exhaust system, and how it gets choked as it hits the rear axle and is twisted around and crammed into a dual outlet muffler.

          Packaging wise, it makes sense as it drops the muffler into a low slung area, right behind the rear axle with fancy looking dual exhaust tips, but a straight through exhaust right out the back with a single tip would flow much better. There are aftermarket system that improve on flow greatly, which picks up the mid-range torque.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I found that while it was fast enough, the engine just wasn’t fun. It slogs along. A smaller turbo with better torque and some high end punch would have been much better. I really, really wanted to like this car and just didn’t.

      Didn’t help that I looked at them when they were brand new and the Subaru dealers thought they were made of solid gold and should command a premium. Scion had a waiting list with none on hand to test drive.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    There’s that dreaded “T-” word again.

    Torque is what neutered the S2000. I, for one am glad that they didn’t do something stupid like lower the redline.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Torque didn’t neuter the S2000, stability control and a less tail whippy suspension tune did. F20C was a horrible motor on the street…. wheezier than my various 4 banger Accords (F22A/H22A) on the low cam

      • 0 avatar
        jeanbaptiste

        One of my worst weeks of driving involved swapping cars with a buddy. I had a stock ls400 and he had an ap1 with a stage something clutch and dual fart pipes out the back. I felt like an idiot in that car. The clutch was so on and off that I had to rev it to make sure I didn’t stall it. All those revs combined with the fart pipes made me just want to apologize to everyone around me for that week.
        I didn’t appreciate the lack of torque either I couldn’t wait to get back to my quiet v8.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I honestly tend to agree with that. Not that the AP2 was bad, but it was a bit of a solution to a problem that didn’t really exist. The added torque was fine enough, but the redline drop kind of dulled the whole thing a bit. Ditto for the larger wheels.

      As long as a car is reasonably smooth, and quiet on the outside, who cares if you have to drive around at 5000rpm for it to be responsive and powerful? Up high is where engines are the most responsive anyway.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    “The BRZ is a good looking car”
    What! it looks like a low rent Scion TC and a half dozen other forgettable econo-boxes.

    I was seriously shopping this car.
    I wanted a great handling RWD coupe and it fit the bill.
    But the design just killed my enthusiasm.

    • 0 avatar
      lonborghini

      The 86 is a niche car and for those of us in the intended niche, it is perfect just the way it is. It is beautiful; a great handling car with plenty of power when equipped with a manual transmission and driven the way it was intended to be driven. It practical in that it is reliable and gets excellent mileage for a vehicle with such performance capabilities. Finally it can be modified to suit one’s personal taste with all kinds of aftermarket engine, suspension and appearance parts. We who own them love them. The rest of you who don’t appreciate the car as it is, by all means, go buy a crossover whatever and enjoy blending in. If you need a back seat for three teenagers, this ain’t your ride, and that’s no one’s fault but your own.

  • avatar
    probert

    You know you’re on a car enthusiast site when people complain about the backseat being too small on a sports car.

    The issue I see is just that seat: The car is too big, it’s not a miata/mr2 like small sports car. Once a car reaches a certain size, people expect a certain level of performance.

  • avatar
    Rochester

    I keep reading how a proper set of performance tires, and an improved, flatter suspension, will kill the driving fun of this car, making the lack of power a glaring problem.

    Such a shame. Such a great little car.

    • 0 avatar

      So, leave it alone!

      What is it about having to ‘improve’ everything? It’s like taking your own condiments to a first class restaurant because you know better than the chef!

      • 0 avatar
        Rochester

        If I’m paying for the meal, and I want it a certain way, then I don’t care if Gordon Ramsey was cooking dinner, I’m going to whip out the hot sauce. Car enthusiasts modify their cars because that’s the hobby. To suggest they leave their car exactly as they bought it is… well, you need to turn in your membership card. We don’t know you, man.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Factory turbo and a more aggressive wheel and tire package is what this car needs to get more interest from enthusiasts. As it stands now, is more of an economy commuter car that has sporting looks, but little else to back it up.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      If your commute is canyons, it is, along with the Miata, as good as commuter cars get. And even on less entertaining roads, it makes the commute more exciting than pretty much anything else on sale today.

      It does wear you, or at least me, down on extended freeway drones, though.

  • avatar
    lonborghini

    I have owned an FR-S for two and a half years. It is my year around daily driver. In the Winter it sports a full set of snow tires. It has see triple digit speeds and i enjoy autocrossing it. I’ve driven it from New York to California and back. I get an combined city/highway average of 31 mpg without trying. The 86 twins are immensely practical and fun to drive. The OEM tires are low rolling resistance Summer tires which means they’re not very good at anything more demanding than rolling.

    • 0 avatar
      Corollaman

      Lonbo, did you change the tires or keep the factory ones?

      • 0 avatar
        lonborghini

        Corollaman, i ran the factory tires until it was time to mount snow tires for its first Winter. In the Spring i put the factory tires back on and shortly thereafter i drove to California. I ran the factory tires for its second Winter in Sacramento. I can tell you that when the temps get down near 40 degrees and with a little rain thrown in, they are absolutely treacherous, because they’re Summer tires. They were slow but great fun on the autocross courses. In the Spring of this year i drove back East. This Fall i finally trashed the factory tires and installed some ultra high performance all season tires to get me through to snow season. The new tires have much more grip and don’t turn to stones when the temperature drops. Next Summer i plan to get a set of dedicated Summer tires for autocross. How’s that for a long answer to a short question?

        • 0 avatar
          Corollaman

          I live in So fl so I kept the factory Michelins on, but now it’s time to replace them and I am pondering whether to get the same(expensive) or buy something different. No track time for me. I am pleased with the service the originals gave me.

  • avatar
    raisingAnarchy

    I mostly liked this write-up. I’m definitely interested in more reviews from this site, too.

    Like others have said in the comments here, “that dreaded T-word”. Would this car be better served by more mid-range torque? More than likely yes. Would it sell better if that magical 250hp mark was reached? Yes, but the likelihood of that being reached WITHOUT a large jump in price is ridiculous.

    I’d love to see how all the armchair engineers on the internet respond to a FA20 powered BRZ with a base price of $34,949 (USD, excluding delivery). You can’t always have your cake and eat it too.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I don’t think it would be better served with more midrange. Another 1000-2000rpm redline, yes. That would give a power boost as well. The shifter is slick and low effort enough to make having to drop a few for power, more of a pleasure than a chore.

      • 0 avatar
        raisingAnarchy

        I agree a higher redline would be great, I’d rather have that than mid-range torque. Unfortunately, it seems that downshifting has now become a chore for many people who want instant torque in any gear at any speed, hence the clamoring for direct injection with twin scroll turbos on everything.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I want both. And with DI and a turbo, you can have both. My M235i is equally happy pulling like a freight train at 1800rpm or wailing to it’s 7K redline.

          I don’t mind downshifting, but it is nice not to have to.

          • 0 avatar
            raisingAnarchy

            I’m glad you have both, but I bet you paid a lot more than $25k for that as anyone would if they bought the car new.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Problem then is, running close to redline gives acceleration hard enough that shift points come up too quickly, and braking becomes too violent, to be entertaining in tight canyons, for those of us too old to be baptized in Red Bull.

  • avatar
    StarAZ

    What would you recommend for some single guy who doesn’t need practicality?

    • 0 avatar
      lonborghini

      I would suggest a wife. They’re about as impractical as you can get.

    • 0 avatar
      raisingAnarchy

      My single friend who poo-poos every mention of practicality from me bought a Mustang GT and loves it. Maybe that or the new Camaro? Not sure what you like. I love my STi, but I just wanted the 4 doors to drive my friends and family around because I prefer to drive. I don’t have kids or anything where I’d need the 4 doors.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      Lexus IS-F or Mercedes C63 AMG sedan, both available used for under $30k. Either car should be a hoot to drive, signals status (in case that matters), and still gives you sufficient space to rail out gold-digging skanks in the back seat.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I enjoy reading the comments here.

    There seems to be a cultural shift in how to invest in a cheap “performance” orientated car from my youth.

    So many comments here are full of expectation from the manufacturer with little regard to the corresponding price increases to fulfill expectations.

    Why not do as we did. Go out and modify a good, cheap platform to suit exactly what you are chasing?

    If you want more power/torque get it, if you think you can improve the handling change your shockies and tyres/rims.

    Experiment. This will not only make you a better driver, it will also be a multiplier with knowledge in vehicle enineering/dynamics.

    In the end if you can’t be fncked doing this, then fork out more dosh and buy a vehicle off the floor that meets your expectations.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      My time is worth money and frankly I have better ways to spend my time then modding some old pile of crap like all those third world 4x4s you have down under. Now shove it

  • avatar

    “Subaru will continue to sell some BRZs, but since it’s just a little too impractical and a little short on the performance, they won’t be selling one to me”

    Exactly the right attitude. There is no point in buying a car that doesn’t suit you.

    All those who say the BRZ has insufficient power should go buy something else instead. All those who believe the BRZ is a beautifully balanced package that thrills if driven within the right parameters, let the love affair continue.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    The brz/frs was doomed from day 1 for a simple reason..we’re poor. The market this car is targeted for doesn’t have the income to spend on such an impractical vehicle…so when they do they go for the hot hatches, pony cars, or in the same showroom the wrx. cars with performance and more practicality. All the fanboys of this car won’t buy a new one. They’re waitingto get to be the 3rd owner of one for cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I do agree with you but IIRC the F86 was developed for Japan and USDM was an afterthought. If USDM were the primary market I have to think Toyota would have at least thought to offer their V6.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      Enthusiast cars of every stripe are niche products .Its not just the BRZ/FRS that suffers from this .

      Even the Mustang/Camaro/Challenger sales are a joke compared to family cars & CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      ^This. I’d love to buy a BRZ and slap on a twin-screw supercharger, but I’m not in a position to spend $25-30k on ANYTHING.

      Especially not when I can dump $10-15k into my beater MkIV Supra and get a car that will look just as sexy as a BRZ but blow the doors off of it, and pretty much everything else too…

  • avatar
    whitworth

    What exactly would have been the downside to have put a turbo on this motor from the factory? Fuel economy?

    I just can’t take any car that’s made for a sporty purpose seriously if it only has 150 ft lbs. You give up a lot to drive a car like this, why make it with feeble acceleration?

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      28 Cars Later said it: the BRZ/86/FR-S are designed for the Japanese market, with everywhere else as an afterthought. The driving conditions and automotive tax structure here are TOTALLY different from most of the US.

      The roads in Japan are narrow and twisty, and the few straights where you could really use the acceleration are probably in dense urban centers where the traffic density is so high that a bunch of torque-y aggressive lane changes won’t do much for you anyway. The terrain is hilly with lots of mountain roads and elevation changes; this is more appropriate for a “momentum car” than a “power car”.

      It only has a 2.0L engine because the taxes for displacements >2.0L are significant. There is clearly sufficient space for forced induction (especially top-mounted superchargers), so Subaru using that argument is bunk IMO. The reliability hit, however, is probably pretty real. As is the significant cost increase with FI.

    • 0 avatar
      B_C_R

      Slap on a turbo and you’re going to add at least a hundred pounds right off the bat. Add some upgraded cooling capacity, bigger brakes, bigger driveshaft, bigger rear axle, and you’re well into a few hundred pounds. That takes the design exercise of a small, light weight RWD car and turns it into a something that costs as much as and weighs as much as (or close to) an Ecobooost Mustang.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I think this is a brilliant car let down by two traits – its engine and its impracticality. an engine like this, low torque, high rpm hp, needs to feel and sound inspiring, and this one doesn’t. It isn’t what I would call unpleasant, but it offers none of a Honda’s Vtech excitement that encourages you to spend your time in the fun part of the tachometer. The space, as pointed out, is a big issue. Mustangs have pretty useless backseats, but their trunks are almost twice as big, making them far more practical. While not as edgy and playful, the Mustang is also no handling slouch now. I really wanted one of these, but the space just isn’t big enough or useful enough. I said in another post that I think this car suffers from being caught in too small of a niche. Those who value absolute driving fun will buy a Miata. Those who want practicality will buy a Mustang. Those who want absolute performance will get the Camaro. There just aren’t enough people out there who want something in between all of those. Jack of all trades, master of none. I really wish they had done either the rumored hatchback or at least the four door model. As a single, childless, enthusiast millenial with decent income, I’m the cars target buyer, but it doesn’t have enough space for me, which is why I ended up with a hot hatch instead. With a hatchback or sedan, I think it could’ve found itself more of a niche. It may not be a big niche, but it would’ve been one it had all to itself. There are no lightweight RWD practical cars available. Your only choices under $30k are used BMW 3 series and Cadillac ATS’s, and those can’t deliver near the driving experience a 4 door BRZ could. The biggest problem with that is it would be in direct competition to Subaru’s WRX, which is currently their offering to those young guys who want fun but still want to be a responsible family man (start noticing how many WRX’s have child seats in the back).

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I guess I feel the opposite. The twins hit a sweet spot between practicality and featherweight performance. It has big enough of a trunk to hold my cycling gear and the tow bar bike rack allows my to bring my bike along. I’ve done multiple weekend trips in it with just my daughter and me when my wife has to work or has other plans. I also drop my 4 year old off at pre-school in it 2 days a week. All of those situations are non-starters on the Miata. A fixed roof means that it isn’t painful to commute on poor weather days, either. The Mustang ecoboost is over 700lbs heavier than the twins. The new Mustangs and Camaros do handle well, but that is because they use punishingly stiff suspensions and extra wide rubber to help manage the weight. So, IMO, there is a decent niche that it fills between the Miata and the pony cars.

  • avatar
    lonborghini

    Perhaps you could find a lightly used Ford Fairmont station wagon with fake wood paneling on the sides. Then just slap on a couple of BRZ badges and you’d have your dream car.

  • avatar
    jdarch82

    One of the biggest automotive disappointments in recent years. It’s a shame too, because it did have some potential.

  • avatar
    squelchy451

    FFS reading the comment section of any misunderstood car is so frustrating. Most Japanese cars aren’t known for having gut-punching torque. They’ll out rev anyone but won’t have enough torque to open a jar of pickles. When you see a car with 200 HP but 150 torque, what do you expect? We’ve all been so coddled with turbocharged engines which gives torque on demand and great mileage on paper that we’ve forgot what it means to have a rewarding experience with a vehicle. Learn the limits of the car on the low-grip tires, deal with the torque dip by either revving it up or accepting the car for what it is, and just enjoy what is just so rare these days–a RWD car with four seats and a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    Starbase101

    So I decided to “upgrade” my 2013 BRZ to a newer 2017. Big mistake. The 2017 is terrible compared to the older model. Yeah, it’s got some nice improvements: shark-fin antenna instead of plastic rod (but reception is rather poor), rear backup camera, LED lighting….but the list of what Subaru totally screwed up with (in my opinion) is too long to ignore. This is supposed to be a sports car, yet it resists acceleration. Yep, this car is S L O W. It accelerates like a tractor. The standard OEM navigation map is now gone, leaving a large dead area on the dash where a touch screen sits unused. The outside temperature and MPG readings no longer exist (and I have the Limited edition). The Blue Tooth will not maintain a connection to my iPhone and I’ve given up re-pairing it every few days. The steering wheel feels like cheap hardened foam compared to the nicer 2013 wheel. Doors don’t automatically lock when you start driving as on other makes of cars. You cannot arm the security alarm with doors or trunk open because the alarm will then set off when closing them. The door handle sensor for locking the car hardly ever works, and the sensor for unlocking the car only unlocks the one door rather than the whole car (you need to manually press an unlock button inside to release the other side door). The auto-dimming rear view mirror still does NOT auto-dim (same poor technology as the 2013, yet Ford has an auto-dimming mirror which does work nicely so it’s not unrealistic to expect this to actually work). The rear seating area is smaller than the 2013, which was already cramped, so the back seats are pretty much just for show – my kid doesn’t even fit back there comfortably so forget about seating 4 adults in the car. Add to all that various rattles and vibrations which just should not be happening on a factory-ordered brand new car. Even the pearl blue color isn’t impressive – it’s blue, but there really isn’t any “pearl” look to it at all. If I knew then what I know now I never would have traded in my 2013 for this disappointment.


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