Preview: 2013 Subaru BRZ subaru reviews car previews
2013 Subaru BRZ. Click image to enlarge

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Article and photos by Michael Schlee

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2013 Subaru BRZ

It all started in 2007 with a group of rogue Subaru engineers in their version of a ‘skunk works’ department. They wanted to see how a Subaru with a very low centre of gravity would perform.  A test mule based on a shortened legacy chassis was created and the engine was dropped as low as it could go.  Impressed with their progress, the engineering team invited executives from both Subaru and recent investor Toyota to see how this RWD concept drove.  Although initially tentative, a second mule was created from an Impreza platform and spy shots began to show up on the internet like it was Lindsay Lohan fresh off a bender.  History was made and one of the longest and most hyped vehicle developments began.

If automobiles are anything more than a passing interest to you, you have surely heard of the Subaru BRZ by now; maybe not with that name specifically, but perhaps as the Scion FR-S, Toyota GT 86, Toyota FT-86 or Toyobaru.  The name BRZ stands for Boxer (as in the engine configuration), Rear-wheel drive and Zenith (as in the height of achievement) and there you have the idea behind this car.  Subaru feels this car new also fits in with their current “Confidence in Motion” marketing campaign as it is a back to basics sports car. Specs and numbers were never the main focus for this car; intuitive driving feel was the goal.

Preview: 2013 Subaru BRZ subaru reviews car previews
2013 Subaru BRZ. Click image to enlarge

Having said that, the BRZ does boast some impressive specifications: the centre of gravity is just 460 mm off the ground and sits 18 mm lower than the Porsche Cayman.  The estimated vehicle weight will be a lean 1,256 kg and features a special saddle style gas tank straddling the driveshaft and exhaust to keep weight low to the ground.  The main focus of the BRZ’s development was to have the lowest possible centre of gravity to promote naturally awesome handling instead of making compromises or compensating for extra weight through tack-on suspension upgrades. If you’re having flashbacks to the principles of the Miata roadster, you’re not alone.

To achieve the BRZ’s 53/47 weight distribution, the battery and starter motor were moved behind the front axle.  The car is controlled via electric power steering.  Powering the lightweight coupe will be an all-new 2.0-litre Boxer-4 engine developing 200 hp @ 7,450 r.p.m. and150 lb.-ft. of torque.  Although the torque is low, the curve itself is very flat and usable torque can be found in most of the rev range – but make no mistake, this is no EJ25 turbo.  The new engine is 87 mm flatter than the Impreza’s equally new 2.0-litre Boxer-4 and features direct injection (from the Toyota parts warehouse) and a 12.5:1 compression ratio. 

Preview: 2013 Subaru BRZ subaru reviews car previews
2013 Subaru BRZ. Click image to enlarge

Subaru faithful fear not, the 4-2-1 exhaust system still features that traditional Boxer rumble.  However, for a little extra snarl, the BRZ has its own rendition of a sound tube amplifying engine intake noises into the cabin.

Being an equal partner in this joint venture, Toyota will be getting their own version of this car called the Toyota GT 86 everywhere except North America, where it will be sold as the Scion FR-S.  The marriage consists of Subaru handling and engine development and production while Toyota taking the lead in product planning and styling. 

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