The BRZ is first and foremost a sports car—and a very light, simple, focused one at that. So it follows that this little 2+2 coupe is a hoot to drive, especially when the road becomes tighter and curvier.
Power comes from a Subaru horizontally opposed 'boxer' engine, making 200 horsepower from 2.0 liters—with no turbo, but fitted with Toyota direct-injection components. With its rev-happy power characteristics and relative lack of low-rpm torque (it makes its peak 151 pound-feet at a high 6,600 rpm) this is not a powertrain that bring blistering straight-line acceleration, but keep the engine spinning and you'll be happily squirting out of one corner and on to the next. In the 4,500-rpm to 6,500-rpm range, power builds quickly, and the somewhat ordinary four-cylinder intake sounds yield to a tenorous, pulsating bark that does indeed sound like WRXs that have received the tuner treatment.
Both of the transmissions in the BRZ do a good job in keeping it fun and keeping the revs up when needed, but it's the precise, short-throw six-speed manual that we recommend. Those who want an automatic won't be let down by the six-speed auto here either, as it includes a sport mode that sharpens shifts, delays them, offers steering-wheel paddle-shifters, and even gives you a rev-matched throttle blip when you manually downshift. Also, with the automatic and sport mode, manually select a gear and it holds it, even at full throttle—a detail that enthusiasts will appreciate.
“Pure handling delight” was the mantra during the BRZ's development, and its exceptionally low center of mass (one of the lowest of any mass production car) and 2,800-pound curb weight speak to that. Handling and body control are confidence-inspiring and extremely predictable. With low-mounted struts and coil springs in front, plus a front brace, and a double-wishbone (multi-link) setup essentially adapted from the STI, the BRZ is tuned to scrub speed off at the front wheels first and transfer its weight cautiously back to the tail when the driver pushes it. You can edge the tail out under power, but you have to make an effort to do that with revs and a heavy right foot. And quick-ratio steering gear manages to carry a lot of road feel through to the steering wheel.
The BRZ is going to be a popular choice for weekend track excursions, and for that there's not only a DSC Sport mode for the stability control but also a full-off mode. A Torsen limited-slip differential also helps give the rear wheels surer footing out of corners either on the track or on tight, curvy roads.