Subaru's new BRZ has good look, performance


It's called the BRZ, and it's like no other Subaru that's come before it.

Sedans like their Impreza have developed a reputation for sensibility and even good traction with all-wheel drive. And yes, there are performance versions of it.

But the BRZ stakes out new ground. It's compact and very light, weighing in at around 2800 pounds. Up front is a two liter, four cylinder engine which sends 200 horsepower to the rear wheels.

This is the first Subaru in a long time to not use all-wheel drive. The horizontally opposed or "flat" four sits nice and low in the engine bay keeping the center of gravity lower than that of a Ferrari 458 Italia. This is a serious performance car.

The BRZ was co-developed by Subaru and Toyota. Here in the U.S. we get the Toyota version as a Scion called the FRS.

Subaru brought the boxer engine to the party, while Toyota brought years of experience making rear-drive sports coupes.

Subaru made the BRZ light and compact, but there is just enough room inside for even tall drivers. That's partially due to indentations in the ceiling. But they aren't there so tall drivers can fit better, they're there so average-size drivers can still fit in the car while wearing racing helmets.

Yes, this car is ready and willing for track duty. Subaru even points out that if you fold down the miniscule rear seat, there's room to carry a spare set of racing tires.

But its right at home as a regular street car too. The six-speed manual transmission is standard, but you can also upgrade to a six-speed automatic, which gets you better gas mileage too.

The BRZ offers up performance at a bargain price, under $26,000 to start. And it offers up something else: A pure form of driving fun and a whole new kind of car for Subaru.

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