It is unassuming in its sportiness — a simple, sleek little coupe more interested in motoring than in making a prestige statement.
It shouts nothing. Instead, it invites. And if you are willing to accept its invitation, you are in for one of the most spirited drives available in a small, rear-wheel-drive four-cylinder automobile.
It matters not your age, which is what I really love about the subject of this week’s column, the 2014 Subaru BRZ Limited. All you need is a love for driving, for getting behind the wheel and going nowhere in particular just because you want to go. I am 66, and I’ve never had so much fun in my life driving a little car.
The BRZ is a collaborative effort between two of Japan’s leading car companies, Subaru and Toyota. Subaru is evident in the car’s super-responsive 2-liter gasoline engine (200 horsepower, 151 pound-feet of torque). Toyota is there in impeccable fit and finish and the simple, comfortable, ergonomically sensible layout of the BRZ’s interior.
I was surprised, pleasantly so. Frequent visitors to this space know I am a lover of most things Subaru, but for reasons having little to do with sporty motoring.
Subaru makes some of the best all-wheel-drive vehicles available anywhere at any price. They are durable, reliable and affordable, safely built, gutsy vehicles that have gotten me and mine through some of the worst weather in the Northeast. Our family’s blue-and-gray 2002 Outback Limited bears the silhouette of a Labrador dog — standing proudly, head up, tail pointing to the sky. It is a sticker placed there in honor of Rosa Parks Brown, our chocolate Lab, one of the Outback’s happiest, most passionate passengers.
In the BRZ, however, it was immediately obvious there was little or no comfortable space for a dog as big as Miss Parks. Heck, it was clear there was not much good space for anything or anyone other than the driver and front-seat passenger.
Add to those space deficits the lack of one of Subaru’s legendary all-wheel-drive systems and the “recommendation” for premium gasoline for “best performance” in this one and I was primed to dislike the BRZ, to dismiss it as an ill-conceived Subaru gambit to suck in younger drivers. I was angry — until I actually sat in the thing and drove it and drove it . . . and continued driving it for several hundred miles more because I did not want to stop.
The BRZ has a wonderful lightness of being, a weight minus passengers and cargo of 2,762 pounds. That weight is almost evenly balanced front and rear. The flat-four engine sits low in the engine bay, enhancing the car’s balance. Construction is tight. The car moves easily and responds quickly to acceleration and steering inputs, and it does it all without drama.
The latter point is very important to me. There is nothing more embarrassing, at the ripe age of 66, than being in a sports car that wants to put on a show wherever it goes — super-loud exhaust note, thrum-thrumming engine, squealing tires and all of that. I did not much like that behavior when I was a younger man. I find it utterly embarrassing now.
I just want to drive — to feel a car move when I tell it to move. I want it to play nicely with curves and act as if it really likes being with me on the road. The Subaru BRZ does all of that. It makes me happy. For that reason alone, it is worth the price, starting at less than $26,000.