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Executive Wheels: 2017 Subaru Brz Limited, Flat-Out Fun

An admirable 2x2 sports car


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The 2017 Subaru BRZ -- Boxer, rear-wheel drive, Zenith – is an oddity in the Subaru line in that it is not an all-wheel-drive vehicle. It is the result of a joint venture with rival Toyota, which originally launch its version of the car as the Scion FR-S. The Toyota younger-set line Scion went away in 2016, so Toyota now markets the car as the Toyota 86. The 86 and the BRZ are virtually indistinguishable, except for the badging, which is a good thing for this BRZ: When it was the BRZ and the FR-S the BRZ had a different nose, longer, and it constantly hit curbs and dips in the road. That has all been fixed, and this BRZ, like its Toyota 86 counterpart, is an admirable 2x2 sports car (meaning it is a two seater with a faux back seat). I drove and reviewed the 86 early this year, and everything I said remains the same because, as I said, these are the same car. Here’s what I wrote:

The Toyota 86 is just flat-out fun. When I drove its precursors, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, I didn’t like them, particularly the BRZ, because I thought they were underpowered for what was advertised, and the trim – especially the front end on the BRZ – was too low-slung.

Toyota refreshed the look as they brought out the new 86, and they added a more power to this 2-door roadster: a 2.0-liter boxer 4-cylinder with some 205 hp. The look is very sporty, and the drive in this rear-wheel-drive vehicle is very, very sporty, and very, very quick.

The 6-speed manual transmission is particularly smooth and responsive. I wouldn’t recommend this car for cruising around in the snow – I did it and had to take it easy – but on dry roads, this is a fun vehicle. There is a back seat, which is fine if you’re three years old, but there isn’t much room in this vehicle. It’s not for hauling – it’s for hauling ass, as they say.

Everything I said stands for this BRZ now, except: the NRZ comes in two models, the Premium, with a base price of $25,495, and the Limited, with a base price of $27,645. I drove the Limited, and they added on the performance package, for $1,195, which, according to the Subaru website, “will turn your BRZ into a hard-nosed competitor with Brembo® performance brakes for supreme stopping power, SACHS® performance dampers for enhanced stability, and gray 17 x 7.5-inch, 10-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels for an exclusive look.” In other words, even more bad-ass. So with destination charges the bottom line is $29,660, which is a little aggressive what with the 86 two grand cheaper.

This BRZ is a fun, wicked car to drive (on dry roads), and it handles and shifts with ease, with a clutch that isn’t too stiff or too wimpy. It drives like a true sports car. Oh, and I didn’t mention in the 86 review, but here the gas mileage is 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway/24 combined, which is respectable for what’s here.

Plus, it is exceedingly good looking, with a very sporty interior, BRZ logoed seats, red stitching in the black leather/cloth seats, on the doors and on the dash. It is, however, a small car, so there’s no cubby in the console for plugging in a phone, and the cup holder (one holder) is a little far back for ease of use. And, of course, the back “seat” is more of a briefcase holder, and the trunk could handle, at best, a carry-on bag.

The BRZ is not an everyday car or folks with winter climes, but if you’re looking for a roadster to tackle curvy mountain roads for some flat-out fun, this would make for a great second car.

And, by the way: Boxer refers to the engine type – featuring horizontally opposed pistons, placed on either side of a single crankshaft; Rear-wheel drive is obvious; and, Zenith, well, I know what zenith means but I have no idea how it applies to this car.

RATING THREE-AND-THREE-QUARTERS WHEELS (OUT OF FOUR) 

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Jeff Rundles

Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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