Subaru BRZ Long Term Test – Ruge’s Subaru – Motor Trend

23 Jan
By  | Photos By Motor Trend Staff | From the January 2014 issue of Motor Trend  |
They say all good things must come to an end, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch Burrzz, my long-term Subaru BRZ, go home. During the past 23,779 miles, the BRZ’s combination of affordability, driver involvement, and even day-to-day practicality have proven that the traditional sports car is alive and well in the modern age.Burrzz didn’t have an easy early life. Not more than a few months old (but by then, gently broken in), he was grabbed by the scruff and tossed into our 2013 Car of the Year competition where staffers flogged him on twisty back roads, a short road course, and even a high-speed oval where I saw 138 mph.2013 Subaru BRZ In Motion View

  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Grille View 2
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Rear Three Quarters
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Three Quarters View 9

Such activities were to be the norm, as Burrzz regularly served duty at Willow Springs Raceway’s Streets of Willow track with none other than our resident racer Randy Pobst behind the wheel. I also began campaigning Burrzz in local SCCA Solo 2 events. With some help from Tire Rack in the form of Enkei RPF1 wheels and BF Goodrich R1-S R-compound tires, Burrzz and I ran three autocrosses together, even securing a couple Novice class podium finishes. With an excellent driving position, firm brake pedal, slick gear change, and easily controllable oversteer, the car is a delight to push hard.Through those hard miles, the BRZ wore exceptionally well. The brake pads still haven’t been changed from the original set (though we’d recommend a more performance-oriented pad to get the most out of track days), and when we removed the original set of Michelin Primacy tires at 12,000 miles for some stickier Bridgestone RA-11s, they were only worn halfway.While Burzz excelled on both the track and local canyon roads, the majority of his miles were spent running the weekly commute in the Los Angeles area. A few things to note: The BRZ is not what you’d call a supple car. The non-adjustable suspension is firm, though not outrightly harsh, and driving the car smoothly in city traffic takes a bit of practice. The touch-screen infotainment system is a total afterthought, with a small screen and tiny buttons that require your eyes to be taken off the road to operate. The system can occasionally be glitchy and sluggish, something I never had our dealer investigate, but for which I’m told there’s a software update. The BRZ isn’t the quietest, most plush choice for a road trip, though the interior is spacious and the front seats are comfortable for long distances. The rear seats are best left for around-town emergencies.2013 Subaru BRZ Three Quarters View 5Service intervals for the BRZ were 7500 miles and included an oil change and inspection, of which the BRZ received three during its tenure. Service for my car fell into a regional Subaru promotion, giving 2 years or 24,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance, though that promotion isn’t offered everywhere in the U.S. If we had to pay for those services, the cost would have totaled approximately $225, or $75 each visit.We did have a couple mechanical issues with our BRZ. We twice had the fuel pump replaced under warranty due to a soft, high-pitched chirping noise at idle. The pump design is at fault, according to the dealer, but a new design wasn’t released by our last service. The pump never failed to deliver fuel to the engine, but the noise was irritating. We also experienced rattling coming from the shift knob after a few days on the racetrack. The dealer found there is a service bulletin for the shift assembly, so the whole lever and linkage unit was replaced under warranty, with new upgraded bushings. Shift action improved, with less-notchy lever action than before.One of the most surprising facets of the BRZ is its practicality. Sure, it’s a only a sports car with 2+2 seating; but the cabin is remarkably roomy for two adults in the front seats, and the rear seat back folds down to reveal an amazing amount of cargo space. As long as none of the items is too tall to enter the trunk, a large Costco run with 50-pound bags of dog food, multiple cases of water (and/or beer), and the like is no problem. I was even able to fit a single adult bicycle in the car without compromising either front seating position, after removing the bike’s front wheel. Also impressive is the BRZ’s observed fuel economy. Even with stints of very hard driving and a lot of stop-and-go commuting, I saw 26.8 mpg.

Read about the BRZ’s Scion-badged cousin: 2013 Scion FR-S VerdictWhat it all comes down to is this: I’m hooked on the BRZ. You can point fingers at its perceived lack of power, its quirky nav system, and its moderate noise, vibration, and harshness challenges, but for those raised on the concept of small, nimble sports cars that emphasize handling and driver involvement over sheer speed, this is one of the best cars on the market at any price. The fact that it’s completely livable on a daily basis is just icing on the cake.2013 Subaru BRZ Engine

  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Grille View
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Tires
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Badge
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Full Dash View
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Full Front Interior
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Cupholders
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Engine Button
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Gear Shifter
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Dash
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Three Quarters View 17
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Rear Three Quarters View
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ Profile

2013 Subaru BRZ Three Quarters View 7

Our Car
Service life 14 mo/23,779 mi
Base Price $28,265
Price as Tested $28,265
Options None
Average fuel economy 26.8 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.72 lb/mi
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ 22/30/25 mpg
Problem Areas Fuel Pump, gearshift mechanism
Maintenance cost $0 (3-oil change, inspection)
Normal-wear cost $0
3-Year Residual Value* $14,698
Recalls None
*Automotive Lease Guide

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