We’ve been lucky here at txGarage and have had many opportunities to get behind the wheel of this driver-focused sports car. We were in Las Vegas for the U.S. launch of the Scion FR-S, and since then, we’ve driven the FR-S and BRZ on many different occasions. This is by far one of my favorite vehicles on sale today, so my biggest questions are: what has Subaru done for 2015 to enhance the experience and distinguish itself from the FRS, and what is this Series.Blue stuff? The BRZ is coming in 3 trim levels starting with a Premium, then Limited, and finally the Series.Blue that we’re driving. This limited production model will only net 1000 vehicles, 500 of which will come in a Crystal White Pearl paint color – like the one we’re driving – and 500 will be painted WR Blue Pearl. So let’s jump into some more details and see what this is coupe is all about.
Looking inside the BRZ, you’ll definitely not mistake it for a luxury vehicle. This is a no-frills sports car. You don’t get fancy controls on the steering wheel; you don’t get a fancy digital dashboard. What you do get is a large, center-mounted tach, amazing feeling from the steering wheel, and an uninterrupted driving experience.
You can get some luxuries, though. Every 2015 BRZ comes standard with a 6.1-inch LCD touchscreen display with navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. When you opt into the Limited trim, you get some nice two-tone leather seats that can heat your rear-end on cold days. You also get leather on the steering wheel and door panels and a keyless start ignition.
Inside the Series.Blue, in addition to all you get with the Limited trim, you also get some simulated carbon fiber trim bits along the dash. These are actually pretty cheap looking, too. Not because of the material necessarily, but because it’s split into two pieces with an unattractive and very noticeable gap between them. This was something that stood out to me right away and I don’t remember it standing out so much or being an issue in other models I’ve driven. It wasn’t just me either, as many people I gave a ride to throughout the week mentioned it. Like I stated earlier though, this is no luxury vehicle. On the other hand, touches like the dual-tone leather and alcantara seats and matching blue stitching around the cockpit were very nice. With the Series.Blue, you also get a red STI inspired engine start button, which is pretty cool and stands out in the blue and black interior.
Despite having a few gripes with the interior, looking at the outside of this car is something I’ve never had a gripe with. Although I’ve heard lots of journalist express either a dislike of the interior or a feeling of wanting more drama; I’ve always liked the styling direction that Toyota and Subaru have chosen. The exciting news here is that everything that makes this exterior great has been amplified with the Series.Blue. This package comes packed with an exclusive combination of STI functional aerodynamic body enhancements. These include the front-lip spoiler, side-skirts, and rear diffuser. While these bits add extra downforce, they also reduce the coefficient of drag from 0.28 to 0.29 – which is about this much (picture me holding my arms out). You also get some black-painted STI 17-inch wheels that look really good on this Crystal White car with black trim bits.
All BRZ models for 2015 now also feature larger stainless steel exhaust tips and a new shark fin roof antenna. The new exhaust tips look better, but sound better as well. Overall, I’m still pretty pleased with the looks of the BRZ and I hope that they’re offering some of these STI bits as dealer accessories as they really amplify the athleticism of this car.
Now that we’ve spent some time looking at the outside and inside of this car, it’s time to look under the hood. The 2015 BRZ gets the same 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Boxer engine that generates the same 200-horsepower and 151-lb-ft of torque. You can still opt for a 6-speed automatic transmission – which has some of the best feeling and shifting paddle shifters out for a vehicle in its price range – or even much over its price range. Of course, our tester was equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, as all Series.Blue cars are. When it comes to shifting feel and preciseness, Toyota and Subaru have figured it out with this car. The gear shifting is one of the things that really make this such an enjoyable car. There are many small, fun, and sporty cars that are absolutely ruined by a floppy and lose gear shifter.
One of the other great characteristics about these cars is their low weight and ultra-low center of gravity. This allows the car to be nimble and agile. Although you only get 200-horses under the hood, the car still feels quick because of its low weight. I’ll still stick with the statement I made in my original review of the FR-S that this car really needs a variant with about 50, or so, more horsepower. The chassis can definitely handle it and it would just add to the fun.
Many people still ask what distinguishes the BRZ from the FR-S and besides minor interior differences; the only other major difference is their suspension setup. The BRZ borrows its rear suspension architecture from the Subaru WRX STI. This effectively uses high-tensile steel in the upper structure which contributes to its low center of gravity. The chassis tuning takes maximum advantage of this ultra-low center of gravity and high-strength body structure. This allows Subaru to tune the suspension for both agility and compliant ride quality. This really shows on the streets of Dallas and around the DFW area where you have many rough roads and some very nice, new, smooth roads. On the rough roads, this car is much more livable than something like the Nissan 370Z Nismo which we drove a few weeks back, but when you do get on smooth roads or a nice track, the car really comes to life and feels like a proper sports car.
Speaking of the 370Z, you’re probably wondering exactly what’s out there that competes with the BRZ and FR-S. Definitely not the Nissan, at least not directly, as it costs almost twice as much and has a big V6 engine with much more power. You might look at the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and this would be a good comparison pitting the 2.0 Boxer vs the 2.0 turbo in the Genesis. The Hyundai would take the trophy if it came down to power only, but its larger size and much heavier body means you’re not having quite as much fun in the corners. Also, Hyundai still needs to do some work on their manual transmissions as it’s not even close to the feel of that in the BRZ. The Mazda MX-5 is always a great benchmark although the BRZ does have rear-seats, even though for the most part they are unusable. I’m excited to see how the new MX-5 feels and drives, but for now, the BRZ is still just better in my opinion.
That might be about it as far as direct competition for this car goes. When you consider the base MSRP of just $25,695 or all the way up to our Series.Blue trim which topped the scales at just $30,285, this is one great sports car for not a whole lot of money. Of course, if you’re like me with a larger family, it doesn’t make sense to own a car like this. However, if I were in the market for a sports car today, it would be hard to look past the BRZ or the FR-S. As a matter of fact, this Series.Blue the way our tester was spec’d out, is exactly what I’d want. Unfortunately, as is the case with most limited production vehicles, all 1,000 vehicles have already sold out and you can’t even see it as a trim on Subaru’s website.