Our rear-wheel-drive Subaru coupe continues to provide reasonable fun after 40,000 miles on the road.
To say we’re thrilled with Subaru’s small sports coupe as our 40,000-mile test nears its halfway point would be an understatement. The snow tires and rims that came with our Limited model car have been put back on the garage shelf. Now that it’s back on its original 18-inch set of Michelin Pilot 4 summer tires, people are raving about how much better it drives. Senior news writer Eric Stafford wrote in the BRZ’s logbook, “The BRZ has cemented itself as my choice over the Mazda Miata.” As one reviewer put it, “Its versatility and razor-sharp handling make it a budget Porsche 718 Cayman.”
That’s a lot of compliments. Granted, there are still a few minor annoyances, such as the fact that the digital dash’s straightforward bar-graph tach arrangement is inaccessible unless stability control is disabled or Track mode is activated. The BRZ has not found many fans since the clutch pedal is cumbersome for city driving. The same may be said regarding the car’s lack of wireless phone mirroring, the considerable amount of road noise that can be heard inside the car on some surfaces, and the ungainliness of the center armrest and cupholders, although some will appreciate being able to store four Big Gulps—one in each door pocket. But those are little complaints because I have no big complaints.
We drove the BRZ from Ann Arbor to VIR and back for our third Lightning Lap track day, where we got to hang around and turn a few laps with some of C/D’s devoted supporters, and it was the highlight of the last 10,000 miles. To the delight of our long-term Honda Civic Si and Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0, we took our Subie out for a spin on VIR’s 4.1-mile Grand Course configuration.
In spite of this, the experience served as a reminder that the current iteration of the BRZ might from some track-focused modifications, most notably stronger brakes that are less prone to fade. Even though Subaru plans to release a more athletic tS model in 2024, we believe that just minor upgrades could significantly improve the driving experience of our current vehicle. Keep an eye out.
The average fuel efficiency of the Subaru has recently reached 26 mpg, 4 mpg more than the EPA combined estimate. This is thanks to recent journeys to Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The BRZ is more like economy plus than first class as a means of long-distance transportation, but its front seats are fairly supportive and all-day comfortable, so it can cover miles far better than you’d think for a car of this kind. The challenge for some drivers is the desire to take back roads instead of freeways so they can take advantage of the BRZ’s agile handling and quick reactions.
The costs of two scheduled maintenance inspections, one at 13,000 miles and another at 18,000 miles, totaled $235 and $119, respectively. Oil and filters were changed at both, as were the tires, but the more expensive service also included a thorough check and the replacement of the cabin air filter at an additional cost. We haven’t yet had the car’s telematics checked out for a recall-related issue that could render features like remote door locking and unlocking inoperable, but we plan to do so at our next visit to the dealership.
Although familiarity has set in with our BRZ, we continue to thoroughly enjoy Subaru’s superb little two-door. Even though we plan to squeeze in a couple more track days to fully explore its potential, we know that its time with us is limited.
Months in Fleet: 11 months Current Mileage: 21,524 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 26 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Observed Fuel Range: 340 miles
Service: $478 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
In Michigan, where we do our long-term testing, our vehicles face a variety of challenges, including encounters with wild animals, deteriorating roadways, and extreme weather. Our 2023 Subaru BRZ made it through the harsh conditions of its first winter with no major problems.
Having winter tires on our car was a major factor in that victory. Last fall, we spent $1226 on tires and wheels from TireRack to replace the standard equipment Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires on our Limited model with narrower 205/55R-16 Michelin X-Ice Snow tires. Subaru’s low-slung sports coupe looks great on the black steelies, and we no longer have to worry about potholes and curbs harming the stock 18-inch wheels. Importantly, the BRZ’s winter tires kept us able to enjoy its rear-wheel-drive bliss despite ripping through several inches of snow.
Even while winters have gotten warmer in the Detroit area in recent years, the snow we did get would have tested even the most lightweight rear-drive performance vehicle. Our BR-Z drove surprisingly well through the worst of it, with the bite of its winter Michelin tires giving us enough traction and stability to get us where we needed to go without turning our knuckles the color of the landscape. However, we had to use the Subaru’s controls with care and pay close attention to what it was telling us through the steering wheel and seatback in order to gain speed without losing control. However, that is the point of this automobile. “I love how even with all the electronic nannies on, the BRZ will let you get a bit sideways before the stability control steps in,” wrote associate news editor Caleb Miller. This is the kind of car that makes you want to get in and drive for two hours straight just because you can.
Indeed, compliments on our Subaru continue to pile up despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. “This thing is just so fun and easy to steer,” said one rider. “Dynamically, the BRZ is superb,” one reviewer gushed. Others have praised it as “endearing,” “delightful,” and “engaging.” In a nutshell, the BRZ is a delight to pilot, despite the fact that some pilots still require more training to master the car’s rather sensitive clutch pedal.
There have been some issues with our car’s winter footwear, specifically how the BRZ’s straight-ahead tracking is diminished by the softer tread blocks and taller sidewalls at high speeds. Because of the limited traction the tires have on dry pavement, the rear tires of this moderately powerful coupe spin all the way into second gear. However, the lowered constraints on handling make this car much more fun to pilot around town. The BRZ’s average fuel efficiency is a reasonable 25 miles per gallon, and its few shortcomings didn’t stop one driver from taking a holiday road trip to Virginia and back.
So far, servicing has been simple, with just one standard visit at about 7,000 miles that saved us $124 (oil and filter replacement, tire rotation, and inspection). Even more sobering is a comment made by test director Dave VanderWerp in our Subaru’s logbook: “With the influx of EVs, I’m most scared about losing cars like the BRZ—lightweight, pure, straight, and economical. When will this type of electric vehicle be available? That hasn’t happened yet, but we’ll revisit the topic in the future. We have just put the summer tires back on our BRZ and are eager to take it out for a spin.
Months in Fleet: 6 months Current Mileage: 10,710 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 25 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Observed Fuel Range: 330 miles
Service: $124 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $
Words about the beginning
This was an obvious fact. The new Subaru BRZ, which was redesigned for the 2022 model year and already carries around a 10Best trophy, was a shoe-in for a long-term visit. This is especially true given that it is imbued with more power and finesse than the 2013 BRZ, which was the model year that we last put through a 40,000-mile test. This excitement may be had at an economical price thanks to its 2839-pound weight. Fun times behind the wheel with meat and potatoes. Why did we decide to go with the BRZ instead of its equally modern Toyota GR86 counterpart? This platform is still the brainchild of the Subaru engineering team, even though that is a more difficult decision to make. The fact that the BRZ rides better on bumpy roads in the Midwest than the Toyota does and that it is slightly less tail-happy in corners should make it that much simpler for us to appreciate it over the next year or so.