Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ownership Bliss: 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium
(Month 1)

One month into ownership of the 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium, life is still as good as it was after the first week. The sheer joy of intentional oversteer shows no sign of wearing off and the car continues to impress by providing an enormous amount of entertainment on a regular basis.

Road trips are a pleasure as the seats are comfortable even for hours-long stints, the trunk fits several large suitcases and bags, and this BRZ has averaged 30+ mpg on the highway. Spirited back-road driving is visceral and engaging thanks to exceptionally communicative steering, crisp handling, and a shifter that is an absolute blast to row through the gates. Keeping the two liter boxer screaming near the 7400 rpm redline certainly produces the best results although the rev limiter is rather aggressive, cutting power abruptly.

The shift light and accompanying beep can fortunately be set by the driver to any RPM, one of a few clever features that may not be apparent during a short test but certainly increase the quality of life for the owner; the seatbelt warning light comes on if an occupied seat’s belt isn’t buckled of course, but the audible chime only starts if the car is in motion, which is a nice touch. The spare tire, jack, and associated hardware are stored under the trunk’s lifting floor panel, tightly-molded in Styrofoam which does a great job of keeping everything accessible and organized.

The driver’s seat unfortunately does not remember its previous position when it is pushed forward to allow a back-seat passenger in or out, but the Subaru makes it very easy to quickly relocate an excellent driving position. Those comfortable, deep front buckets combine with the high door sills to make it challenging for passengers to exit the BRZ without knocking heels on the rocker panel, though it shows no signs of any resulting wear. Another more pressing annoyance is an entertainment system that relies on an SD card that is specific to the particular car. Should it go missing the only recourse is to order one through a Subaru dealer, something that will run $500 if the car is out of warranty.

A cold Massachusetts winter has revealed a few interesting traits beginning with a rougher, burbly idle from the boxer engine on startup, followed by a clutch that doesn't seem to disengage completely leading to a balky shifter, and a trunk that has to be shut rather firmly to stay latched. All of these issues go away once the car warms up. A visit to a Subaru dealer for the 15,000 mile service confirmed everything was functioning normally and these are all known traits of the car. The cold weather also brought snow and the stock Michelins are ill-suited to the task. Getting stuck in the snow, in a Subaru no less, is something to be avoided, so General Altimax Arctics were recently installed and have an encouragingly-aggressive tread. The steering feels a bit less direct and communicative on the winter rubber but overall grip on cold pavement is up and the ride over frost heaves and broken pavement is softer.

On several occasions all four seats have been occupied by full-size adults; while ingress and egress is something of a challenge, once everyone is seated there is enough room to be comfortable. The deep buckets of the back seats leave everyone with plenty of headroom, and legroom is adequate if feet get tucked under the front seats. One such trip included a pregnant passenger and while the BRZ shouldn’t be called “roomy,” none of the five occupants had any complaints.

This 2013 Subaru BRZ continues to impress by remaining a capable every-day car while regularly delivering a massive amount of entertainment. The winter climate limits recreational driving somewhat, but the BRZ needs no preparation or planning to be incredibly fun. Every stint in the car, from quick trips to the store, through weekend drives through the countryside, to long freeway road trips are sweetened by the car’s excellent ergonomics and responsive handling, and liberal dollops of tasty oversteer are the icing on the cake.