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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.