A Subaru unlike any before (pictures)

The 2013 Subaru BRZ is largely identical to its cousin and platform mate, the 2013 Scion FR-S. As a result, it is unlike any other model in Subaru's lineup.
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Lightweight construction

Built from the ground up for sporting driving, the Subaru BRZ features lightweight construction and a low center of gravity.
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Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET / Caption by:

Front end

Aside from the obvious Subaru "Pleiades" badging and distinctive WR Blue Pearl paint, the BRZ distinguishes itself from the FR-S with a unique front bumper with reshaped lower grille and LED daytime running lights. Styling is subjective, but I think I like the Subie better.
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HID headlamps

The BRZ comes standard with HID headlamps with automatic on/off. The Scion's projector beam lights look similar, but are not as bright or sharp.
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Rear-wheel drive

The BRZ is the only coupe in Subaru's fleet and is the only model that eschews the automaker's signature Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system in favor of a rear-driven architecture.
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Driver aids

A Torsen limited-slip differential meters power between the left and right wheels on the rear axle and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control System (TCS) help keep the coupe pointed in the right direction. VSC and TCS can be disabled at the touch of a button for situations where you want the tail to get a little loose.
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2.0-liter Boxer engine

The 2.0-liter Boxer engine uses a combination of port and direct injection to output 200 horsepower. At 100 hp/liter, that's an impressive bit of efficiency that few production engines achieve without forced induction. Torque, however, is less impressive at a mere 151 pound-feet. It gets the job done, but this is no drag racer.
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Transmission options

The BRZ is available with a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. The manual is more engaging for the driving purist, but the automatic offers improved fuel economy.
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Rolling stock

The coupe grips the road via 215-width tires wrapped around 17-inch alloy wheels. Wider tires would be nice, but the amount of available grip is nice for the level of power that the BRZ outputs.
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Junk in the trunk

The BRZ's trunk may not be cavernous, but Toyota and Subaru assure us that with the rear seats folded flat there is space for an extra set of four tires and tools for track days.
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Driver-focused ergonomics

Settle into the driver's seat and you'll find that the BRZ puts everything that the driver needs at your fingertips. The steering wheel, shifter, and pedals are perfectly posititioned for sport driving.
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Sport bucket seats

The deeply bolstered seats hold fast when cornering hard, though wider drivers may complain about their tight squeeze. Stepping up to the Limited trim level trims the seats in leather and Alcantara, but I was happy with the cloth upholstery.
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Steering wheel

With the exception of a cruise control stalk, the leather-trimmed steering wheel is almost totally devoid of controls, so there's no chance of accidentally activating voice command when trying to set a fast time around a closed course. On the other hand, you'll have to reach over to the receiver every time you want to tweak the volume or skip tracks.
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Instrument cluster

The instrument cluster places the tachometer front and center, as a sports car should. A digital speedometer is integrated into the gauge's face. This is good because the cramped, half-circle analog speedometer is nearly impossible to read at a glance.
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Interior build quality

However, the 2013 BRZ Premium is far from perfect. The standard cabin tech package is far from what I'd consider "premium" and the dashboard is made of cheap, hollow plastic. At one point, a dashboard panel popped off while I was attempting to remove a music-filled USB drive.
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Standard audio system

This 6.1-inch touch-screen interface is the only infotainment option available on the 2013 BRZ. It features navigation with maps stored on an SD card and a full array of digital audio sources, and defaults to this cluttered split-screen configuration that displays both.
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Audio sources

At the touch of a button, the audio portion can be expanded to display more info about the current source. Available sources include CD, AM/FM/HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB/iPod connectivity, a 3.5mm analog auxiliary input, and Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming.
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Navigation

With the touch of another button, the navigation system can also be expanded to fill the screen. The map features traffic overlays as provided by the SiriusXM NavTraffic connection.
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Interface issues

However, the infotainment system is awkwardly organized, requiring multiple taps to access what should be simple functions. Additionally, the screen can be sluggish in reacting to inputs and, with a few exceptions, features tiny onscreen and physical buttons that are hard to hit given a bumpy sports car's ride.
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Hands-free calling

The Bluetooth connection will sync your phone's address book, putting your contacts at your fingertips for hands-free calling.
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Audio system

Perhaps the most heinous offender is the eight-speaker, 196-watt audio system, which sounds horrible when cranked to any level above a whisper. You may not listen to music while you're at the track, but you're going to want something that sounds better than this for the long ride home.
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Voice command

Voice command is a standard feature for BRZ drivers, but this system is also sluggish and, despite recognizing the spoken command "Navigation," doesn't interface with the navigation system.
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