5.30.2015

"THAT's A Subaru?": The 2015 Subaru BRZ Series Blue

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Subaru BRZ Series Blue
The 2015 Subaru BRZ Series Blue.
So I'm driving home Tuesday afternoon on Sacramento's busy Howe Avenue, heading south toward U.S. 50, when my peripheral vision picks up some motion to my right. I look and it's a thirty-something woman leaning out her driver's window waving frantically.

Expecting to hear that I have a flat tire or flames are shooting out from under the car, I hit my passenger-side window control and hear a question I haven't heard in a long time:

"Hey mister! What kind of car is that?"

"Subaru BRZ", I replied.

"THAT'S a Subaru?", she yelled, incredulously.  "I've never seen one of those!"




Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Subaru BRZ Series Blue
2015 Subaru BRZ Series Blue.
Sadly, that's probably true.  Subaru has only sold about 1,600 BRZs so far this year and a little more than 20,000 of them in the four model years they've been on the market. Its near-identical twin, the Scion FR-S, which we've reviewed a couple of times, most recently last summer, has sold about twice as many, so that's 60,000 cars that look like this in four years. By comparison, Toyota has sold 134,000 Camrys in the first four months of this year alone. And Ford has put 240,000 new F-150s on the street in that same 120 days.

The Subaru BRZ is the 218th best-selling car in America. Not exactly the line Don Draper would want in a commercial.

And it's a darn shame, because the Subaru BRZ is a terrific car for those of us who believe that the sport in driving has less to do with brute force and more to do with finesse.  Under the hood is a 2-liter, non-turbo boxer engine that makes 200 horsepower.  The car is light and lithe enough that 200 is sufficient.  No, it's not a road-ripper, but as my neighbor, who owns a couple of mouthwateringly desirable older Porsches notes, his drop-dead gorgeous 1989 911 Carrera makes 207.

Having spent the previous week with the 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo, I expected to feel the loss of power (the Nismo packs 332 horses), but was delighted to find that the BRZ made up for it with less weight, tremendous handling and dramatically increased visibility that enhanced the confidence a driver needs to really enjoy a great-handling car.  And the 2.0-liter boxer is a fuel-sipper as well, relatively speaking, with an EPA estimate of 22 city/30 highway. With an 80/20 mix of freeways and city streets, we saw a rock-solid 28.

At a base price of $27,695, the BRZ comes standard with vehicle stability control, a full complement of airbags, anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, tire pressure monitoring, an anti-theft alarm and immobilizing system, daytime running lights, a ring-shaped reinforcement frame, a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, 17-inch aluminum wheels and summer performance tires, high-intensity discharge headlights, fog lamps and a rear decklid spoiler.

Interior view of 2015 Subaru BRZ Series Blue
2015 Subaru BRZ Series Blue interior.
Our tester had one option: the Series Blue Edition.  For $2,545, you're treated to STI front, side and side/rear underspoilers, 17-inch STI black finish alloy wheels, a leather and alcantara-trimmed interior with blue highlights and stitching, red-painted brake calipers, carbon-fiber patterned trim and an undercover insulator.  And right below that on the window sticker, there's a $750 discount, bringing the price of the Series Blue Edition down to $1,795.  Add $795 destination and delivery charges and the bottom line ends up at $30,285...or about five grand less than my neighbor's 911 Carrera cost new 26 years ago.  Adjusted for inflation, the difference is about 30 large.  I took him for a ride in the BRZ and he liked it a lot.

It'll never be a volume seller, but hopefully Subaru (and Scion) can make the case for a nice, long production run of the BRZ.  More people deserve to know what kind of car it is...and to be surprised that it's a Subaru.

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