Subaru BRZ review by Vorshlag

Here is good technical and practical review for Subaru BRZ by Terry Fair and Matt at Vorshlag. These guys did a great review just by seeing and measuring the BRZ at dealership, really they were allowed only to sit inside and open the engine bay. Check it out below!

Today Matt and I from Vorshlag and Brian from AST/Moton were able to preview a real live production 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited. This is the Subaru version of the joint Subaru/Toyota "FT86" chassis. I like Subaru a lot mor than Scion, so that's what we wanted to see. The 40+ "pre-release pictures" were taken by Vorshlag on Feb 25, 2012 start here. The BRZs go on sale in a week and should start arriving in early May.

The folks at Subaru of Plano only had the car for a day, and I had hoped to weigh this thing and get a "real number" on this car. Weight is key to everything for performance, to me. I've read these will be anything from 2600 to 2800 pounds. Big range there. We were also hoping to be able to pull off the front and rear wheels and measure strut and shock lengths as well as look at a few things like that up close. The guy in charge (some random car dealer there) said "no dice". We couldn't drive it, start it, move it, jack it up, but we could open the hood and trunk, and people were allowed to sit inside. Matt and I were the first ones at the dealership to see the car at 9 am today, and Brian Hanchey rolled up shortly after, followed by Sean Goodpasture and some other local folks that heard about this car being on display today.

We measured all sorts of things and Brian figured out what shocks and strut its going to take (a unique front strut, but not all THAT new), what camber plate it needs (Vorshlag already makes one that works perfectly - but it wasn't what I thought! I brought several we make and quickly figured out which Subaru chassis they stole the front suspension from), and verified some of the published numbers - like wheelbase (101"), total length (167"), etc. I also measured "outer track width" (from outer sidewall to sidewall, not center of tire) and it was over 68" wide, even with the skinny ass 215/45/17 tires! That's a good bit wider than an E36 BMW.

Take all of the "driving preview" impressions and throw them out the window, because they are meaningless - the factory tires coming on US models SUCK. These pathetic, skinny things are the same tires that come on a Toyota Prius... not kidding. As in "the opposite of performance tires". So it probably spins the rear tires easily and slides around like mad, but its likely making 0.7g lateral on these all weather, super-low-rolling-resistance microtires. Anyone that drives one of these on the factory rubber needs to know that it will make NO GRIP in bone stock form, but with a proper wheel and tire upgrade it should be considerably better. After crawling around and under it for 2 hours I know what its going to take to fit 17x9" wheels front and rear - it won't be super easy, but we'll make it happen, even if it means having a run of wheels custom made.

The car is begging for negative front camber, needs to be lowered at least 2", and is going to lose a considerable amount of weight with typical track/autocross prep. The rear muffler is a massive suitcase sized box, easily 50 pounds, and there's another resonator upstream (where a proper race muffler will easily fit). The exhaust routing is FUNKY - typical Subaru turbo car routing, with the driver's side manifold routed across the front of the motor (where a turbo would normally go) and into the passenger side, then routed back. Yuck! There will be a market for custom headers and full exhaust systems for NA cars, which should lose 60-80 pounds or more (in STX legal trim) in the exhaust alone.

Left: The BRZ engine is almost entirely behind front axle centerline. Right: AWD Impreza engine is almost entire in front of front axle centerline

What else... oh, the motor placement really is pretty much perfect, and this chassis was NEVER meant to be an AWD car. Engine is supposed to be 9" further back than a typical AWD Subaru boxer 4, and it looks more like 2 feet further back. The front axle centerline is almost lined up with the front of the motor, unlike most Imprezas and the like (see comparison above).

The strut tower bracing is simple yet super effective, with stand-offs welded to the strut towers and rods going to the firewall (no wacky top-mounted intercooler in the way); it would be easy to make a 3-point brace using the stock bolt holes. Engine bay is plenty long and wide - you could put an LS1 under the hood if you wanted to, but the oil pan would need surgery and the front of the V8 engine would sit pretty far forward. The battery is huge and begging for a lightweight replacement (-20 pounds). There's tons of room for a FMIC when they make a turbo version (maybe in a year or so). Front end cosmetics are good and the lighting is well done.

Interior... wow, they really did this right. Best looking interior for a 25 grand car I've ever seen. The plastics have nice tactile feel (more rubber like than plastic), and the Alcantara/leather seats in this "Limited" model were very nice. Shifter is in the right spot, the steering wheel can adjust for tilt and telescope, plenty of head room, plenty of interior width (not knocking shoulders with your passenger, like in an NA/NB Miata or Elise), and the materials are great.

The stock seats are awesome, and almost as good as the ones in the EVO X MR. Like the EVO seats, they won't work at all for fat guys (hey, calling it like it is - sorry) but you won't be tempted to swap them out for race seats unless it becomes a full-on caged race car. The height adjustment of the all-manual (thank you!) seats has a large range, and both Matt (vertically challenged) and I could each fit in the car with a race helmet on. The center stack on this Limited model had automatic climate control, and if it works like on other Subarus (as in: not well), I'd skip the Limited package and get the "base" model for $2K or so less. The auto climate control, heated seats, rear wing, and leather inserts on the seat edges are all that goes into this pricier Limited model... I'd pass, but its not a big deal either way (supposedly only a 16 pound difference between the US packages).

The total height of the roof was super short (comes up to the bottom of my rib cage), and shorter than any Subaru I've ever seen by a foot or more. The rear wing from the Limited package does sort of make the rear lines look "right", so it might be worth the extra bucks of this Limited package just to get that. Or add your own later.

The rear seat is... very limited. Small children or child seats, maybe. With me sitting fairly upright in my normal driving position, at 6'3" tall, the front seat back was 2-3" from touching the rear seat bottom (almost zero rear seat leg room). The front seat could slide back that extra few inches, to where the seats touch (zero rear leg room), and I had to really reach for the controls... so I suspect up to a 6'7" driver would fit - there is a lot of head room. With a slimmer seat bottom (custom floor bracket) even these tall folks could race the car with a helmet on. Surprisingly roomy up front... but not so much in the back seat. The rear seats fold flat and you can fit a set of wheels and tires there, though.

Not to mention, there's a full sized spare wheel and tire, and a scissor jack and tire iron back there. So figure on losing another 45 lbs when the "trunk junk" is removed. Whatever the actual weights end up being (if you take the middle of the range of weights I've seen published that might be ~2700 lbs?), figure you could take out another 100-175 pounds from exhaust, battery and trunk junk in STX autocross trim. And that's the only logical ST class it should go into - its close to the RX8's 2800 lb weight and 200 horsepower (and low torque), but has less tire room (245/40/17 should fit but 255/40/17 might be a tick too tall to clear up front and full lock).

This blue exterior color looked HAWT in the sunlight as it rolled in, super quietly

Should be fun tinkering with this thing, regardless. Matt has a deposit on one already, but not at Subaru of Plano - those jokers were taking $1000 non-nonrefundable deposits on a car they didn't know the prices of. And marking them up $900 over MSRP for "paint protection" dealer add-on crap, that you couldn't opt out of. Sleazeballs. "We're only getting 15 for the year!" I suspect the low production numbers predictions are total BS, but who knows. Its a $25K car - its not going to be super exclusive, you know? Once they start cranking these out, I think they will be made in "Miata like" numbers.

Again, all 40+ pictures I took are avilable here. I will post info and pics as soon as we get our hands on one - within the first hour of one arriving here at the Vorshlag shop it will be corner weighed, measured, disassembled, and the rest of the car will be dissected and weighed further. We have several new FT86 specific products in mind - some will be developed before it arrives, the rest soon after. I will share them during development, too.