Subaru BRZ 2015 Review


What’s New for 2015
For 2015, the Subaru BRZ gets a retuned
suspension as well as new exhaust tips, a
standard “shark fin” antenna and updated
interior trim. This year also sees the debut of
the limited edition “Series.Blue” version.
Introduction
In this age of powerful and fast but somewhat
pudgy performance cars, driving enthusiasts
who would rather pilot a lighter and more
agile sports car should take note of the 2015
Subaru BRZ. Comparing a Subaru to such
sports car luminaries as the Datsun 240Z,
Porsche 944 and original Mazda RX-7
would’ve been heresy just a few short years
ago, before the BRZ debuted. Yet this Subaru
can proudly stand tire-to-tire with those icons
as it similarly proves that if you’ve got a very
well-balanced chassis, communicative
steering and light weight then you don’t need
a lot of power to have a lot of fun. Sharp
looks and an as-new price tag well under 30
grand, nicely equipped, don’t hurt either.
The BRZ, which was co-developed with Toyota
(which sells its version as the Scion FR-S)
breaks with Subaru tradition in that rather
than having the brand’s expected all-wheel-
drive system, it uses a lighter and more
sporting rear-wheel-drive layout. It also uses
a naturally aspirated engine rather than
having a turbocharged mill expected of a
Subaru performance model.
Though it may be outgunned by heavier, V6-
powered sport coupes, the BRZ is not exactly
a slug. With a curb weight just under 2,800
pounds, the 200 horses unleashed by its
flat-4 “boxer” engine are enough. Besides, this
car is more about straightening out curvy
roads than ripping straight-line acceleration.
Going with rear-wheel drive and the flat-4
engine allowed the powertrain to be set farther
back and lower in the chassis. That
architecture translates to a low center of
gravity along with ideal front/rear weight
balance. Factor in wonderfully communicative
steering, and the result, as we discovered in
our BRZ long-term road test, is a superbly
balanced sports car that’s one of the most
rewarding to drive, regardless of cost.
If, however, neck-snapping power is a must for
you, and you don’t mind a four-door body
style you can also check out the BRZ’s sibling,
the Subaru WRX . Offering a similar mix of
speed with practicality is the Ford Focus ST.
Of course, there are also sport coupes such as
the 2015 Ford Mustang and the Nissan 370Z ,
which are quicker if not as agile as the BRZ.
However, the Subaru BRZ, which earns an “A”
rating from Edmunds.com, should be very
appealing to those who value an involving
drive and back-roads athleticism in a small,
affordable package that comes packed with
features.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Subaru BRZ is a four-seat compact
coupe available in three trim levels: Premium,
Limited and Series.Blue.
The Premium comes standard with 17-inch
alloy wheels, summer tires, a limited-slip rear
differential, automatic bi-xenon headlights,
LED running lights, keyless entry, cruise
control, air-conditioning, full power
accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-
wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable
driver seat and a fold-down rear seatback.
Electronic features include a 6.1-inch
touchscreen; Bluetooth phone and audio
connectivity; a navigation system; voice
controls; smartphone app integration (Aha
Radio); and an eight-speaker sound system
with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an
auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio
interface.
Stepping up to the Limited adds foglamps, a
rear spoiler, keyless ignition and entry, dual-
zone automatic climate control, simulated
suede and leather upholstery and an All-
Weather package that includes heated front
seats and heated mirrors.
With only a total of 1,000 slated for
production, the Series.Blue (available in blue
or white) includes the Limited features and
adds aero body styling tweaks, black wheels,
red brake calipers, interior accent stitching
and a black-and-blue interior scheme.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2015 BRZ is rear-wheel drive and features
a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder
engine that produces 200 hp and 151 pound-
feet of torque. A six-speed manual
transmission is standard, and a six-speed
automatic with shift paddles and rev-matched
downshifts is optional except on the
Series.Blue, which is manual transmission
only.
In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-
equipped BRZ went from zero to 60 mph in
6.8 seconds. The automatic BRZ did it in 7.9
seconds. These times (especially the
automatic’s) are on the slow side compared
with V6-powered rivals that are about a
second or so quicker. EPA-estimated fuel
economy is 25 mpg combined (22 city/30
highway) with the manual and an excellent 28
combined (25/34) with the automatic.
Safety
Standard safety equipment on the 2015
Subaru BRZ includes antilock brakes, traction
and stability control (with selectable levels of
calibration), front side airbags and side
curtain airbags.
In Edmunds brake testing, the BRZ came to a
stop from 60 mph in 114 feet — a short
distance — but about what you’d expect from
a sporty car with summer tires.
In government crash tests, the BRZ earned an
overall rating of five stars (out of a possible
five), with four stars for total frontal-impact
crash protection and five stars for total side-
impact protection. In crash testing by the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the
BRZ received the highest possible rating of
“Good” in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset,
side-impact and roof-strength tests. The
BRZ’s seat/head restraint design was also
rated “Good” for whiplash protection in rear
impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The BRZ has a simple, pleasantly styled cabin
that features a blend of Toyota and Subaru
switchgear and materials. It’s a bit bland
compared with some other sporty cars in its
price range like the Genesis coupe, but then
this is supposed to be a back-to-basics
driver’s car.
There’s no shortage of features, however, as
even the base model is loaded with high-tech
items like navigation, HD radio and Bluetooth
phone and audio connectivity. Sadly, those
particular features are controlled by a
touchscreen interface that’s difficult to use.
The menu layout requires a lot of back-and-
forth commands, and the small virtual buttons
are tough to press on the first try. Not helping
matters is that there are no audio controls on
the steering wheel. As such, you might catch
yourself taking your eyes off the road to fiddle
with the controls.
The BRZ’s firm, well-shaped front seats are
supportive enough for hard driving on curvy
roads, yet are still comfortable for long-
distance trips. People of just about any size
should find the driving position to be quite
agreeable, and thanks to the low-profile hood,
there’s an expansive view of the road ahead.
Yes, there’s a backseat, but few adults would
want to sit back there. Legroom is next to nil,
your head will be either very close to or
pressed in to the rear window, and the center
tunnel impedes hiproom. Trunk space is also
rather small at 6.9 cubic feet, but folding
down that mostly useless backseat expands
cargo capacity considerably.
Driving Impressions
If you’re the sort of driver whose car must be
able to hammer down freeway on-ramps with
its tires ablaze, the 2015 Subaru BRZ is not
for you. Its power is sufficient but not thrilling.
Instead, the BRZ is for those who get a kick
out of going around corners and feeling all the
nuances and inputs that go along with a car
that offers phenomenal communication and
impeccable control.
The BRZ’s limits are approachable and easily
controlled, which makes it a wonderfully
engaging sports car. The steering practically
telegraphs the front tires’ grip status right to
the driver’s hands. What’s more, the brake
pedal is firm and consistent in feel, and the
chassis remains composed even when the
road surface doesn’t. We’d go for the manual
gearbox, which is a pleasure to shift, but even
the available automatic transmission is
programmed for enthusiastic driving.
Used for more mundane duties like the daily
commute or a long road trip, this little Subaru
is still rewarding. It’s surprisingly easy to
drive, and the ride is sufficiently supple over
broken pavement. The one dynamic demerit is
that there’s a fair amount of road noise,
especially over concrete roadways.subaru brz

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