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2013 BRZ: Subaru's Sexy, Small Sports Coupe

By Sue Mead, September 1st, 2012

Given the popularity of its Forester and Outback you might expect Subaru to keep churning out new versions of these popular, practical crossover utility vehicle people-carriers. But no, this Japanese automaker went back to its racing roots for the introduction of the 2013 BRZ.

Manufacturer photo: Subaru developed the rear-wheel drive BRZ with the fundamentals of sports car design in mind: low vehicle weight, an ultra-low center of gravity and precision steering
Manufacturer photo: Subaru developed the rear-wheel drive BRZ with the fundamentals of sports car design in mind: low vehicle weight, an ultra-low center of gravity and precision steering

Surprisingly from Subaru, the BRZ is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. This two-door, four-seater sports coupe has a low center of gravity that earns it a legitimate place on the track, as well as the highway. Sold in much smaller numbers, it's no secret that Subaru's race-ready all-wheel-drive WRX and STi have added panache to the Subie stable that appeal to the "fast and furious" crowd. Starting at $25,495, the new 2013 BRZ can be ordered in two trim levels: Premium and Limited.

A purpose-built engine and an almost completely unique engineering platform make the BRZ stand out from the rest of the Subaru stable -- and, although racing is in this new car's DNA, it shares almost no common parts with others in the brand's lineup. The result is a sleek, powerful machine that boasts 200 horsepower, but still returns up to 34 miles per gallon.

Under the hood is a unique-to-the-lineup 2.0-liter boxer motor matched to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic. In addition to the 200-hp, the engine churns out 151 lb.-ft. of torque available across a broad curve for more responsiveness in everyday driving situations.

The exhaust system, culminating in dual pipes, is tuned for a classically revved sound that is feedback through the cockpit for a full "vroom" effect.

Manufacturer photo: Subaru developed the rear-wheel drive BRZ with the fundamentals of sports car design in mind: low vehicle weight, an ultra-low center of gravity and precision steering

Subaru's engineers have designed 54 percent of the BRZ's weight in the front and 46 percent in the rear, with a center of gravity that bests the well-respected Porsche Cayman and Mazda RX-8, says the automaker.

We drove the 2013 BRZ in Texas on a short course race track at the Dallas Motor Speedway and on nearby roads. Notable are the car's tight chassis, nicely weighted steering and well-balanced drive and handling characteristics, especially when motoring at higher speeds in corners.

We liked the 7,400-rpm redline and the wheel-mounted paddles, which help keep hands in place for more aggressive maneuvers. Our only complaints are the engine/exhaust sound on hard acceleration, which to our ears was harsh and brassy, and the small back seat that would serve a better place to stow gear and goods.

High-tensile steel combined with aluminum in the hood help make the BRZ light for its size, weighing in at 2,762 pounds with the manual transmission and 2809 with the automatic. In front, the suspension uses struts and coil springs; rear suspension is a double wishbone configuration. Electric power steering has a 13:1 steering ratio for a responsive feel on the road.

On the outside, the BRZ has little in common with its workaday cousins, except perhaps the sharply slanted headlamps that grace the front end. A big-mouthed air intake-grille is painted in a blackout shade to contrast the body paint color, and deep wheel wells protrude slightly to create strong shoulders and hindquarters over 17-inch tires and aluminum alloy wheels. The two-door coupe has a steeply raked windshield and snipped rear end, creating a no-mistaking-it sports car silhouette.

Manufacturer photo: Subaru developed the rear-wheel drive BRZ with the fundamentals of sports car design in mind: low vehicle weight, an ultra-low center of gravity and precision steering

The cabin seats four, but is really meant to serve as a cockpit for the driver and, perhaps, a navigator. A three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel is accented with red stitching, while a touchscreen navigation system that includes controls for all the infotainment features keeps things modern.

This Subaru rear-driver was developed as a co-venture with Toyota, who markets it in the U.S. as the Scion FR-S.

Specifications

Base price $25,495
Curb weight 2,809 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Epa mileage rating 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 200 at 7000 rpm
Motor type 4-cylinder boxer w/DFI
Overall length 166.7 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 151 at 6400 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 4-passenger RWD compact coupe
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