The BRZ is a very light, straightforward sports car above all else, and it's a blast to drive, especially on curvier roads.
It's powered by a Subaru 'boxer' engine–a horizontally-opposed 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower–but it's fitted with direct-injection technology, rather than a turbocharger. It's a high-revving, relatively low-torque way to get around that doesn't necessarily inspire trips to the drag strip, but keeps the engine spinning fast enough to keep you shimmying briskly through the corners. Power builds quickly between 4,500-rpm to 6,500-rpm, and the exhaust has a tendency to delightfully bark in a way that seems more familiar to a tuned WRX.
“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.
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.
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.