When the 2013 Subaru BRZ showed up in our test garage, I was "tasked" with seeing how livable the car was for a few days. For context, I'm a car guy who knows his way around a track and lives alone with a 90-pound black Labrador. I'm in my mid-20s and have a mid-20s budget for my next car.
The first part of the test was a mini road trip. I'd had a half-marathon with my best friend on the calendar for months, and race day finally arrived on Saturday. Our drive from Atlanta to Columbus, Ga., was a 200-mile round trip made up entirely of interstate highways. We left the house at 4:00 a.m. Since we were both pretty tired, the trip started off as a quiet one. Or it would have if the car were a little less noisy. The engine revs loudly, you can hear the exhaust and the tires are thin enough to make sounds on rough pavement. That was the soundtrack for the first 30 minutes on the road. Eventually, we turned the radio way up to drown it out, but we found ourselves using more than just our inside voices to talk along the way. Even so, I'm willing to forgive the BRZ for being so talkative. It's a real-life sports car, and I can't remember the last time that I sat in one that felt totally polished for less than $70,000. This one starts at $25,400 and doesn't touch $30,000 loaded. For the buyer who might want the BRZ, the sounds aren't bad noises either. Engine revs and exhaust grunts are part of the attraction for most driving enthusiasts, and while my friend wasn't totally entertained, I found the car fun to listen to. It was as if we were engaged in conversation. On top of that, the seats bolstered but were very comfortable. At 6 feet 2 inches and 5 feet 1 inch, both driver and passenger managed the entire trip without complaint, even after running for 13 miles.
After the race, I needed to go grocery shopping. The BRZ's trunk looks small, and its back seat is only fit for a briefcase or a small child. I wasn't sure how much shopping I could get done in one run. What I didn't realize at the time was that the rear seat backs fold down, creating space for just about anything, contingent on it fitting through the trunk opening. I spent a little over $150 to restock my fridge and pantry, which equated to about 15 shopping bags. All of them fit in the trunk with space to spare, meaning that the BRZ would probably be able to run 99 percent of my errands without me wishing for something larger. The car certainly isn't spacious, but if it's just you, a friend and your stuff, we don't think you'll run into too many issues with practicality. Families with children will want to look elsewhere though, because the back seat is one of the smallest seats in any car today, and accessibility doesn't come cheap.
My last day with the BRZ was spent doing what the car is meant to do: Have fun driving. The BRZ isn't the most powerful car in its segment, and that's really evident when you try to push the engine to work harder. While rev-happy and enjoyable, the car never feels as all-out fast as similarly priced Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros or Hyundai Genesis Coupes. Where the BRZ really excels though is in handling. My afternoon was spent on the back roads headed into the mountains, and this Subaru sports car proved to be one of the best sorted vehicles I've driven in a long time. On winding roads, it would leave all of the aforementioned cars in its dust. At $26,000, the only other cars that handle even remotely as well as are the Mazda Miata, MINI Cooper S and the Scion FR-S. The car only comes with two real luxuries--navigation and xenon headlights--and the rest of it focuses purely on the art of driving. For that, we can't fault the BRZ. It's just a blast behind the wheel.
For driving enthusiasts who are looking for an inexpensive way to have a lot of fun in a new car, the BRZ should definitely be on the shopping list. If entertainment is your primary objective, the only cars you should shop against are the MINI Cooper and the Mazda Miata, but we think the 2013 Subaru BRZ is a little more reliable than one and a little more mature than the other.