Most of us in the Pacific Northwest associate the Subaru brand with the models we see with great regularity at trailheads, wildlife refuges, ski areas and other outdoor activity venues. You know, the Outbacks, Crosstreks and Foresters.
But then there’s the Subaru BRZ, not often seen but always noticed. A car for those whose idea of an outdoor activity venue is a racetrack.
Subaru’s rear-drive BRZ sports coupe is substantially updated for 2017, with engine and suspension enhancements, added features and more dynamic styling.
BRZ’s 2.0-liter boxer engine has been re-engineered to produce 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque when paired with a six-speed manual transmission. (When equipped with a six-speed automatic, horsepower is unchanged: 200 with 151 lb-ft of torque.) The revised engine also delivers quicker acceleration and better responsiveness.
The 2017 Subaru BRZ is available in Premium and Limited trim levels. A Yellow Special Edition model limited to 500 cars will be available this winter. Features include performance enhancements, a bright yellow exterior, unique black alloy wheels, black badging, and black foldable exterior mirrors.
My tester was the Limited model with a six-speed manual transmission. This version includes a new Performance Package upgrading the suspension to boost handling and steering stability. It also adds wider alloy wheels and a high-performance Brembo braking system. The Performance Package is a carrot for owners who want to take their ride to the track. A new BRZ feature for 2017 is a Track Mode setting.
The EPA city/highway/combined rating for the tester is 21/29/24 mpg.
Among the new items on the BRZ Limited for 2017 are a door trim lower knee pad with simulated leather, red stitching and bright silver trim; LED fog lights; instrument cluster meter visor (also with simulated leather with red stitching); sport design instrument cluster with 4.2-inch multi-function display; and front seatbacks with a red embroidered BRZ logo.
My week with the 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited didn’t include any turns on a track but was instead restricted to the confines and buzzkill of public roads. On Snohomish County’s fantastic backroads I had more than enough fun anyway, and got a good sense of BRZ’s capabilities. A knowledgeable and reliable friend of mine, a Car and Driver writer, once told me that Jackie Stewart, the famous racing driver, said he could tell you everything he needed to know about a car without going more than 45 mph in it. Not that I’m Jackie Stewart or anything.
BRZ’s new styling is exquisite, so much so that I spent quite a bit of time just admiring it in my driveway from a kitchen window. On the road, the head-turning of other motorists was constant.
There’s nothing practical or utilitarian about the BRZ, of course. Ostensibly it has back seats. There are two seat-shaped things behind the driver and front passenger seats, but no leg room to go with them. However, they can accommodate rear-facing children’s safety seats, so at least a sports car enthusiast new parent can buy a little time before having to cave for an SUV.
2017 SUBARU BRZ LIMITED
Base price, including destination charge: $28,465
Price as driven: $28,465
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.