NORTH VANCOUVER, BC – Welcome to the Wet Coast, where the men are damp and the girls have gills. The light summer rains are a distant memory, the fall rains have come and gone; we now approach the end-of-year solstice and the winter rains. Which are, like, totally different.
Well, that’s what you get for living in a rainforest. No wonder Subaru sells so many all-wheel-drive vehicles here: with vaunted symmetrical all-wheel-drive, they’re the perfect machines for maximum wet-weather traction. That sure-footed grip is a signature of all Subies, be it a rust-spotted GL crammed with snowboarders, or Labrador-laden Outback.
Four-wheels good, two wheels bad… then again, flick off the traction control and get more wheelspin than a croupier at a roulette table. That’s the beauty of all-wheel-slide.
This is the Subaru BRZ, kissing cousin to the Toyota FR-S, both related to the GT-86, reputed descendants of the old AE86. Y’all 10-4 on that? In the cavalcade of Subaru three-letter acronyms, the BRZ slots in below the WRX and the STI – at least in price.
If you’re not already aware, it’s a rear-drive only, 2+2 coupe with a curb weight just ahead of a Mazda MX-5, and a peppy 200hp output. Co-authored by Subaru and Toyota, the so-called Toyobaru twins are mostly Sube, despite the alleged Corolla GT-S ancestry. Flat-4 boxer engine? Check. Questionable styling? Check. Interior inspired by Rubbermaid? Check and check. Sounds like a Subaru to me.
What’s not Subaru-like is the way this thing shakes tail like it was auditioning for a rap video. In the dry, the lowly 150-ish lb/ft of torque won’t bust ’em loose unless you pop the clutch. In the wet, on the other hand, the BRZ is more squirrelly than an unfenced nut farm. Shutting off the traction is two-stage affair: there’s a sport version that provides a Mystikal effect (“shake that ass – but watch yo’self!”), or hold down a button for a few seconds to disengage the safety net entirely.
Sounds fun, don’t it? Now, let me tell you all the things that are wrong with the car: it’s far too loud at highway speed, the engine is noisy and characterless, there’s a weird mid-range torque vacuum, the trunk is shallow (although the seats fold flat), the rear-seats are only big enough for a child seat if you cram your passenger seat into the dashboard, the optional Sport-Tech audio system is less intuitive than Windows 98, and the clutch uptake feels as numb as if you were kicking a cat-flap.
And yet, despite this list of shortcomings, the BRZ is sold out all the way to spring/summer of next year. Why? Because while it may not be completely worthy of the lionizing it’s been receiving in the motoring press at large, this is a charming little car that’s more fun-to-drive than a great deal of pricier sheet-metal.
Put one on your shopping list and you’ll probably be able to look past what foibles there are. In fact, you might only have one problem with buying a BRZ: the waiting is the hardest part.
2013 Subaru BRZ