The Subaru BRZ isn’t perfect. I’ve already written about the 12 most frustrating things about the BRZ but after three years of ownership, I’ve never been tempted to sell or trade in the car.
The BRZ has always been a controversial car with critics lamenting its lack of power and its fans lauding its handling. It’s by no means a car for everyone. Hell, it’s not even a great car for automotive enthusiasts. I wouldn’t recommend it for most people since it’s such a niche vehicle.
But for every frustration about the car, its character and charm make up for it (at least for me). Here are the 11 reasons why I still love my Subaru BRZ.
11. It’s simple
For a modern car, the Subaru BRZ is refreshingly simple. There are no media controls on the steering wheel. There are no options for internet connectivity. There’s no “eco” mode. In a time when auto manufacturers are trying to load up their cars with as much tech as possible, the BRZ’s simplicity makes you appreciate the joy of driving, not updating your Facebook from your car.
The ability to disable all the safety nets in the car is also much appreciated, especially for people who track the car. You can disable traction control, stability control and even
ABS EBD (electronic brake-force distribution) with a special “pedal dance.” [Thanks for the correction, Tada-san!] You’d be surprised how many cars won’t let you turn off the nannies entirely (*coughGTIcough*)
10. It’s beautiful
The BRZ is a great looking car and gets a lot of attention. I find myself staring at the car after I parked it more often than I’d like to admit (just ask my girlfriend). While its doors are relatively plain, I love the the rear three-quarter view since it highlights the hips of the car. I also love the shit-eating grin the BRZ has, which makes it look like it’s up to no good.
I could do without the BRZ’s OEM wing that came with the Limited trim but it has grown on me. While many owners have swapped out their tail lights with aftermarket lights like Tom’s or Valentis, I really like how the stock lights look. There’s a good bit of depth and the brows above the circular brake lights make it look menacing at night.
After a long day, I like to just sit in the garage and look at the car. I’m weird, I know.
9. Aftermarket support
The aftermarket support for this car is insane. There are so many performance and cosmetic modifications for this car that you can build a truly unique car unlike any other BRZ or FR-S. OEM parts are expensive so it’s nice to have a ton of aftermarket part options.
This can also be a bad thing since many owners fall down the rabbit hole of constantly searching and saving for the next mod. I’ve learned to be happy with how the car is at the moment but a nice set of coilovers would be nice… (*commence three hour suspension research session*)
8. Its potential
The Subaru BRZ and FR-S are blank canvases for whatever you want to turn the car into. Want to build a time attack machine? Go for it. Want to build an insane drag car? Sure. The chassis is so capable, there are a ton of videos of the car chasing down Porsches, Mustangs and even S2000s.
The car is down on power compared to most sports cars but what it lacks in brute force, it more than makes up for it in the corners. The car’s chassis, brakes and steering are so communicative that drivers are able to push the car to its limits relatively easily.
With some minor modifications like bushings, suspension and tires, the BRZ can transform into a track weapon or the ultimate street car. There are a ton of shops doing research and development for the platform so the sky’s the limit for tailoring the car to your needs and driving style.
7. It’s the perfect size
The BRZ and FR-S are the perfect size. Its proportions look great and the car is short enough that you can park it just about anywhere. Inside, the car is actually very roomy for such a small car. It never feels claustrophobic (except for the poor souls forced to sit in the back).
Subaru and Toyota did a great job making the car fit different sized drivers. It’ll be snug if you’re over six feet tall but you can still fit in the car. The telescoping steering wheel does wonders to accommodate drivers of all sizes. You’ll also notice the bubble roof, which was designed to accommodate drivers wearing helmets. This also gives the benefit of more headroom for taller drivers.
On the road, the BRZ and FR-S are perfectly sized for blasting through narrow canyon roads. You can actually hit apexes within your own lane since the car isn’t very wide. Narrow winding roads are the BRZ’s natural habitat.
6. The power
OK this one may confuse some people. One of the biggest knocks against the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S is their lack of power. However, I think it’s great that it only has 200 HP and 151 lb-ft of torque. The BRZ is a great beginner sports car and I have a feeling a lot of owners are first time sports car owners. Having just enough power will keep people out of trouble and also teaches proper driving technique. Having power masks driver mistakes since the car can make up ground on the straights. By having limited power, BRZ and FR-S drivers will have to learn how to maximize its low power by carrying momentum through the turns. This will pay off down the road when you start driving more powerful cars.
I’ve written more in-depth about why the Subaru BRZ doesn’t needs more power so be sure to check out that post.
If you’re rich, you have no shortage of choices for sport cars. If, however, you don’t have $80,000 to drop on a Porsche Cayman, the BRZ and FR-S are two cars that offer the best handling for the dollar. With a starting price of around $25,000, just about anyone can afford one of the twins. A good used example can be found for around $18k, making it quite a bargain.
And it’s not just cheap to buy, but cheap to own. In addition to getting great mileage, the BRZ doesn’t require much maintenance. Its FA20 engine has shown itself to be quite reliable with forum members approaching triple digits without problems.
Oil changes are a bit pricier than your average sedan since it uses the more expensive 0w-20 oil and takes up almost six quarts (!!). The only other maintenance item I’ve purchased for the car is a jug of coolant because the car seem to boil off a little coolant over time. Just keep an eye on the coolant reservoir tank and top it off when it’s looking low.
4. The attention
I don’t like to draw attention to myself so it was a bit of a shock when strangers began approaching me and complimenting me about the BRZ. The car isn’t exactly rare in the Bay Area but venture out of the bubble and people will stop and stare.
One time I was looking for a parking spot when a lady in a Ford Escape started waving frantically at me. I broke a little too late to hear what she was saying so I reversed and asked her what’s up. She asked, “What car is that?? IT’S FUCKING BEAUTIFUL!”
Another time, I was parking the BRZ at the beach when a lady on a bicycle came out of nowhere and asked me what kind of car it was. “I know it’s a Subaru because of the badge but it doesn’t look like any Subaru I’ve seen before,” she said. That’s true since Toyota designed the car and Subarus have never really been “pretty” to most people.
It also helps that both the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S don’t have an easily identifiable “corporate” grill. Ford has has split grill, Lexus has its spindle, Audi has its gaping mouth, and Mazda has its beak.
I don’t mind the attention since most people are genuinely curious about the car. Interestingly, the attention comes from all ages and sexes. From the stoned looking kid in the riced out Corolla to the mom in the Target parking lot, people seem to really like how the car looks.
3. It sips fuel
Efficiency isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds when they’re buying a sports car. However, I find the Subaru BRZ’s frugality a huge selling point. The car is rated for 22 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway with a manual transmission. The automatic does even better with 25 in the city and 34 on the highway due to taller gearing.
I have no trouble hitting the EPA numbers and have even exceeded them. I’ve been able to get over 30 MPG on the highway, even with my wider and stickier Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Other owners have reported similar results.
At 13.2 gallons, the gas tank is small, which means you’ll get around 250-300 miles from one tank, depending on how hard you’re driving.
2. It’s practical for a sports car
This may surprise people but the BRZ is actually pretty practical. Sure, the rear seats are pretty useless for transporting people but at least you have the option in a pinch. With the rear seats folded down, there’s actually a ton of trunk space. I’ve taken the car to make a couple of IKEA runs for some smaller items without issue. Obviously you’re not going to fit a bed frame in the car but it handles smaller things like shelves just fine. Try doing that in a Miata.
Taking a couple of suitcases and bags for a trip is easy. My girlfriend and I managed to fit all a week’s worth of luggage into the BRZ for a trip down the California coast without issue. I didn’t even have to fold the rear seats to fit everything.
One of the selling points of the BRZ and FR-S is that you can fit a set of wheels and tires in the rear for a track day and it really can. It’ll take some creative stacking but it’s relatively easy to fit an extra set of wheels, tires, and track day tools in the car.
The Subaru BRZ also makes a good daily driver. It’s got enough room to hold your stuff and although its suspension is stiff, it’s not punishing. In traffic, the light clutch is a savior. A sedan will be a better commuter car but he BRZ isn’t bad.
1. The handling
Steering is electrically assisted but Subaru and Toyota have nailed it. It’s perfectly weighted, has great feel, and is almost telepathic. You just point where you want the car to go and it’ll follow. I love the communication the steering provides as it inspires a ton of confidence. Combine that with a ridiculously low center of gravity and you have a highly responsive car. Transitions through S-curves feels great since the car doesn’t lean much.
From the factory, Subaru designed the BRZ to be as neutral as possible while the FR-S is a bit more tail happy. I like the neutral approach since you can get the car to either under or oversteer depending on how you drive it. Push too hard into a corner and you’ll be saved by a bit of understeer. If you want to kick the rear out, just stab the accelerator. When the rear does let go, it feels progressive and is never a surprise. The chassis is so communicative you know exactly what each tire is doing.
If you love driving, the BRZ is for you. It sure is pretty but it’s the handling that’ll make you fall in love with the BRZ every day.