When you approach the BRZ, you’re immediately made aware of how unique this car is. It’s small. It makes regular sedans look like boats (yet I can fit four golf bags in the back with the back seats down). But unlike a lot of smaller cars, it’s got a very provocative and sporty look. Its stance is aggressive, but not overly so. This car looks like it means business with its menacing grin and low height.
As you climb into the driver’s seat, a few more facts are made apparent. You sit extremely low with your legs out in front of you, something that a lot of sports cars today don’t do anymore. Part of the reason is that a more upright seating position gives you a better view of the road ahead, but thanks to the flat 4 in the BRZ, the hood is lower than normal and you’ve got an excellent view in front. You’ll have this wonderful view via some extremely bolstered seats that hug you impeccably.
With the push-button start, the car coughs itself alive in a charming fashion. The tach needle sweeps up and down, and the digital speedometer sits nicely within the tach – very motorcycle-like and easy to read. Going through city streets is a breeze. The clutch is light and easy to use. The shifter finds its gears with ease and short throws, but with positive engagement. The meaty steering wheel offers just enough resistance as you make your tight 90-degree turns. Spirited acceleration as you enter a highway allows the classic boxer burble to remind you of the unique engine in a car like this, and it’s a sound I can’t help but fall in love with!
As easy as this car is to get up to highway speed and keep under control, I enjoy it most on twisty roads. It dives into turns and holds itself there. Those small moments between telling the car which direction you want it to go and the car reacting are gone. No body roll, no fuss – it just does what you want and responds perfectly through that small, grippable steering wheel.
I’m still babying my BRZ while I break in the engine and therefore haven’t got it going sideways yet, but there’s just this immense feeling of predictability that should make it a joy to toss around on a track. Everything happens in a linear fashion – no random and unexpected bumps in powers, very lineary steering, no random fishtailing. Everything happens for a reason with this car, and that reason is you. The complete and utter sensation that it does everything because of (and only because of) your inputs is yet another rarity in an age of technology and electronic nannies.
Some will scoff at the numbers of this car compared to similarly priced sports cars, but the numbers don’t do it justice. I second-guess it myself until I’m back behind the wheel where good ol’ physics takes its course. Horsepower and torque figures can be impressive on paper, but a center of gravity that rivals exotic sports cars is impressive while driving. I can only imagine the restraint the engineers had not to go and muck with the perfect balance of this car. Just think of how you’d start out at the drawing board when looking at its competition: “More power!” “Launch control!” “Dual clutch paddle shifter!” All seem like logical starting spots, but these engineers are showing me they’re not very normal (thankfully). I tip my hat to them all, for they really have created a radical masterpiece.
If you had claimed five years ago that a sports car with 200 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque would cause this much of a disruption in the auto industry, you’d have been marked as a lunatic, yet here we are. This car has received some of the biggest hype and anticipation of any car in recent memory, and the BRZ has shown that it’s earned it. Couple that with its price point, and you’ve got yourself a car that only comes once in a few decades.
Go test-drive one. You owe yourself the enjoyment.
Dennis Cwik, Seattle, WA
I love cars. I grew up surrounded by a handful of fun (and reasonably affordable) cars that my parents and brothers have owned. Naturally, one of my biggest goals was to do well in school, get a good-paying job, and drop an unjustifiably large amount of cash on a fun car as a gift to myself for the years of hard work I put myself through.
I graduated from the University of Waterloo in early 2010 and moved to Seattle for work, and was tasked with finding the perfect car for me. My ideal car was to be small, sporty, built with passion and story, excelled at handling, but, most importantly, fun. I wanted something that made me smile uncontrollably.
It was finally time for me to fulfill my childhood dream of buying the car that I wanted. But after browsing the entire market, the decision was incredibly difficult. Every car seemed to have some compromise I wasn't willing to make. Either it had zero storage space (I do like to go golfing every now and again), lacked soul, felt like I was driving something the size of a house, or was nowhere near my price range. Did everyone go through this when buying their first car, or was I looking for a car at the wrong time in automotive history? Perhaps my perfect car did not exist, and so I decided to postpone my dream of having my own car until I was ready.
Part of the reason I couldn't find the car of my dreams was because of something I had seen six months prior; the FT-86 concept. After hearing about this car and its engineering philosophies, I was hooked. If any of you have been following the story of the BRZ, you'll know how sparse the details of this car were, and how much hype and anticipation have surrounded it.
The reviews slowly started to trickle in, each one singing praises, and I couldn't help but worry. Could a single car really garner this kind of attention and respect? After taking delivery of the first one in North America, I had to see for myself.