Here's another reminder why the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) represents an increasingly important venue for carmakers. Subaru is displaying its brand-new 2013 BRZ coupe in the company's first-ever appearance at this high-tech Vegas event. Not just because the BRZ has geek-tastic gadgetry sprouting from its dashboard, but the younger audience of CES represents the market Subaru wishes to reach.
Just by virtue of being a coupe makes the BRZ a far different machine from the usual Subaru family-oriented output like the Legacy and Outback. This is the fruit of a joint project with Toyota, whose equivalent in the United States is the 2013 Scion FR-S. While Subaru's cars have been exclusively all-wheel-drive for many years and Toyota's have been predominantly front-drive, the BRZ has a rear-wheel-drive layout.
The other Subaru hallmark - a turbocharged engine in a flat-four configuration - nestles beneath the hood and contributes not just 200 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, but also better handling. That's because the shape, weight and placement of the engine helps the BRZ attain quite a low center of gravity, which is something driving enthusiasts prefer.
However, as well as old-school hardware like a limited-slip differential, Subaru is using CES 2012 to announce a partnership with Aha by Harman to provide what Subaru calls "the first interactive platform that makes web content safe for drivers." Aha is, apparently, the "fourth band of radio" after AM, FM and satellite. What happens is that it makes use of an owner's smartphone to stream information, music, NPR and the like into the car. An app for the Apple iPhone is currently the working model, but spring will see an app for Android-based phones.
"Aha is the first product that meets our criteria for safety, great design, and broad content options," said David Sullivan of Subaru. "Without having to touch their smartphone, Subaru drivers will be able to access content like traffic, nearby restaurant information, music and a growing wealth of web-based information."
The 2013 Subaru BRZ will be offered with this Aha feature, along with other 2013 models in the Subaru range.