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2016 Subaru BRZ: New Car Review

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for information on a newer Subaru BRZ, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Subaru BRZ Review.

 

While Subaru is well known for its all-wheel-drive vehicles, including the rally-inspired WRX, there is one 2-wheel drive vehicle that is all about performance, handling and good looks. The 2016 Subaru BRZ has a normally aspirated 200-horsepower 2.0-liter engine and combines the joy of a perfectly balanced lightweight chassis with the precision of rear-wheel drive to create a classic performance coupe. Designed in conjunction with Toyota, it has many similarities with the Scion FR-S. The BRZ’s engine and suspension represent Subaru’s contribution, while the sleek styling and cozy interior spring from Toyota’s styling studio.

The BRZ isn’t for everyone, however. Although it has a small back seat, the BRZ’s cabin is really only fit for two passengers. Technophiles probably won’t be impressed with the new touchscreen audio and infotainment system. There aren’t even steering-wheel-mounted audio controls available. But if you’re looking for a fun sport coupe with great road manners, a wonderful 6-speed manual transmission and sleek good looks, the 2016 Subaru BRZ deserves at least a couple of test drives. See the 2016 Subaru BRZ models for sale near you

What’s New for 2016?

For 2016, the BRZ gains a new 6.2-inch single-gesture control touchscreen audio system but loses its standard navigation system. A rear backup camera is standard on all models and a new Series.HyperBlue limited edition trim replaces last year’s Series.Blue. The 2016 BRZ sees a $200 price drop over the 2015 model. 

What We Like

Balanced chassis; communicative steering; comfy front seats; seductive styling; reasonably well-equipped for the price

What We Don’t

Engine could use more power; lack of high-output audio system; no steering-wheel audio controls; cramped rear seat

How Much?

$26,190-$31,000

Fuel Economy

The Subaru BRZ is powered by a 2.0-liter boxer engine, meaning that its pistons lay on their sides in a horizontally opposing configuration. The normally aspirated 4-cylinder generates 200-hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. With the 6-speed manual, the BRZ earns an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. With the 6-speed automatic, fuel economy jumps to 25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

Subaru offers the 2016 BRZ in two well-equipped trims: Premium and Limited. There is also a limited edition Series.HyperBlue model with only 500 units being produced. All three trims come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed automatic with manual shift control is offered on the Limited for an additional $1,100.

The BRZ Premium ($26,190) brings air conditioning, cruise control, power mirrors, 1-touch up/down power windows, power door locks with a remote fob, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 65/35-split folding rear seat, a limited-slip rear differential, HID headlights, 17-in alloy wheels, and a 6.2-in high-resolution single-gesture touchscreen audio system with Subaru STARLINK, SiriusXM radio, single CD player, eight speakers, USB/iPod control, Bluetooth streaming audio and phone connectivity.

The BRZ Limited ($28,190) adds fog lights, Alcantara and leather seat inserts, push-button starting, a rear spoiler, illuminated sun-visor vanity mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control and the Cold Weather package, which adds heated front seats and heated side mirrors.

The BRZ Series.HyperBlue ($28,485) adds Hyper Blue paint, 17-in black painted wheel, frameless day/night rearview mirror, blue stitching on the seats, shift lever boot and park brake cover.

Stand-alone options include a powered subwoofer, an interior illumination kit, a rear-bumper diffuser and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The BRZ offers a modest trunk that measures 6.9 cu ft. and can be expanded by folding down the rear seatbacks.

Safety

Every BRZ comes standard with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, and six airbags, including front, front-side and side-curtain. In government crash tests, the BRZ scored four out of five stars in the frontal crash test, and five stars in the side-impact and roof-strength tests.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the BRZ top marks in every test, including the moderate-overlap front, roof-strength, and seat and head-restraint tests. It was designated as a Top Safety Pick.

Behind the Wheel

With only 151 lb-ft of torque, the BRZ isn’t going to deliver the same neck-snapping acceleration as its WRX or WRX STI brothers. Thanks to its lightweight chassis, though, if you’re willing to get the revs up over 5,000 revolutions per minute and really work the 6-speed manual, the BRZ will bring a smile to your face every time you take it for a spin. Driving the BRZ reminds us of another old favorite, the Mazda RX-8. Wonderfully neutral in the curves, with precise steering, great brakes and tenacious traction, the BRZ is the kind of car that you want to push through winding mountain roads for hours on end.

Best of all, for everyday drivers, the BRZ is easy to live with. Its ride isn’t too harsh or jarring, the gas mileage is pretty good, and its maintenance schedule is no more expensive than the average family sedan.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Ford Mustang V6 — The V6-equipped Mustang can’t match the BRZ’s handling, but it does offer more power, features and a muscular appearance.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro V6 — Like the Mustang, the Camaro offers more power and a more masculine look than the BRZ, but it is also noticeably heavier, offers poor outward visibility and is less agile when turning.

2016 Scion FR-S — Nearly identical the BRZ, the Scion FR-S offers a few more options, more colors and a larger dealer network.

Used Nissan 370Z — A 2012-2015 Nissan 370Z is a sleek, 2-seat rear-drive sports car that offers better performance, a more powerful engine and the option of a convertible model.

Autotrader’s Advice

Unless you absolutely can’t live without heated seats and side mirrors (and a few other amenities), go with the base Premium trim over the Limited. It has everything you need to enjoy what the BRZ is all about, plus you can use some of the $2,000 savings to replace the underwhelming audio with a nice aftermarket system. If you can’t drive a stick, however, you’ll have to move up to the Limited, as the Premium doesn’t offer an automatic transmission. Find a Subaru BRZ for sale

 

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