First introduced in 2013, the BRZ takes Subaru to a new relatively unpopulated area of the automotive business, the entry-level end of the purist-performance sport car segment. After two successful years on the market, the 2015 BRZ remains relatively unchanged from the original except for some additions to the Infotainment system.
With its rear-wheel drive configuration, the BRZ is a departure for Subaru which converted their entire lineup to all-wheel drive cars in 1996. It?s also a new type of car for Subaru, a sports car.
Powered by a 200-hp version of Subaru?s famous Boxer engine that has horizontally opposed cylinders instead of the conventional in-line vertical configuration used by most four cylinder engines. With this engine mounted low in the chassis, it keeps the vehicle?s center of gravity lower for better balance and handling. Subaru engineers have also taken great pains to keep the vehicle weight to a low 2,762 pounds which also contributes to the car?s excellent handling characteristics.
The four-cylinder 2.0-liter Boxer engine has a dual overhead cam with a unique direct injection and port injection technology that enables the engine to run at a very high 12.5:1 compression ratio to achieve a maximum efficiency, especially in light and medium load conditions. The engine uses a Dual Active Valve Control System to produce a broad range of torque across a broad curve to give it better response in everyday driving. The high 7,400 rpm red line and torque curve allows the driver a wide range of power.
The standard six-speed manual transmission is designed with close ratios between the first five speeds to help maintain the revs for better control in corners. The sixth gear is an overdrive for better cruising efficiency. The clutch has a light smooth feel and the shifter is smooth and precise without being notchy.
An available six speed automatic transmission ($1,100) with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters maintains the sports car feel and can be adjusted from a console mounted switch for firmer automatic shifts. The driver can also switch the shifter to a manual mode with direct control using the shifter or the paddle shifters.
The BRZ is equipped with a Torsen? limited-slip differential which helps the inside wheel maintain traction during cornering. For track driving the Vehicle Stability Control has five different settings allowing the driver to select a level of control or to completely switch the system off for track driving.
The manual transmission cars have an EPA fuel economy rating of 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. The automatic does even better with a 25/34/28 mpg rating. Our?manual transmission test car averaged 24.7 mpg in mixed enthusiastic driving.
Underpinning the BRZ is a sophisticated four-wheel independent suspension using struts and coil springs. The electric assist power steering has a quick 13:1 ratio for quick response and it has a tight 35.4-foot turning radius which helps give it an even more agile feel.
The low coupe has a swept-back roofline sweeping back to a body-colored trunk spoiler, strong fender arches on all wheels and the classic sports car long hood, with short overhangs front and rear. It uses high intensity discharge headlights and has a large hexagonal grille area.
The cargo area is a tight 6.9 cubic feet of space, but that it can be expanded by folding down the rear seat backs, and then there is room for a couple of sets of golf clubs.
The interior has a simple functional design with large buttons, and well placed controls. The navigation system uses a 6.1-inch touch screen mounted high in the center stack high making it easy to read without having to look too far away from the road. The large center mounted tachometer has a digital speedometer readout in its face making it easier to see speed and RPMs instantly. We also appreciate the large dead pedal for the driver?s left foot. The seats are highly bolstered for extra support during more spirited driving or at the track. Rear seats are only for emergencies or smaller children. They will hold two properly installed forward facing child seats.
The 2015 Subaru BRZ is available in two well-equipped models, the Premium model and Limited. The Premium is priced at $26,490, with the destination charge, and includes a sports-tuned suspension with front strut brace and TORSEN limited-slip differential. On the inside the Premium includes the infotainment system with navigation, voice controls, HD Radio, Bluetooth, Sirius XM satellite radio and many other entertainment features. The Limited model is priced at $28,490 and adds to the Premium features Alcantara? and leather trimmed upholstery, a rear spoiler and keyless entry/start.Our test car was the Series Blue Edition (limited to 1,000) which added aerodynamic enhancements, STI? black finish alloy wheels, red-painted brake calipers, exclusive interior trim and a choice of WR Blue Pearl or Crystal White Pearl paint for an additional $1,795. (We believe the Series Blue Edition is already sold out, however.) Other than the automatic transmission and a few aftermarket type accessories, there are no other options available for the BRZ.
We had a chance to compare the 2015 Subaru BRZ back to back with the icon of the category, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The BRZ is an equal to the Miata with similar handling and performance attributes. It?s a fun car to drive and every bit the pure sports car that you can feel comfortable in everyday driving, but it could easily be used weekends on the track.