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2012 Detroit auto show video: 2013 Subaru BRZ

Consumer Reports News: January 13, 2012 05:23 PM

Subaru has a long and rich history of enthusiast cars through their rally racing heritage. But the Subaru BRZ sports coupe goes in a different direction.

Instead of being a hopped-up version of one of Subaru’s grocery-getting all-wheel-drive sedans or hatches, the BRZ is a purpose-built sports car. This low-slung, rear-wheel-drive coupe is light weight, with a low center of gravity from the flat-four engine being set down low in the chassis. Placing that engine back towards the cabin helps weight distribution, but that mount position eliminates the possibility of all-wheel drive. With no turbo version available (at least for now), the BRZ isn’t about raw power numbers, but rather pure handling and agility.

But how does this all work on the road? We don’t know yet. We don’t know how well the electric steering transmits road feel, if the gear ratios are right for that engine, or if the ride is stiff or typical-Subaru-compliant. Nor do we know if the Scion doppelganger, the FR-S, is tuned better. (Subaru did most of the development on the car, but Toyota tuned their version differently.)

We can’t wait to find out. Soon. The BRZ is a logical next step for the Miata owner who needs something with some more room inside, but doesn’t want to spend a mint. And that’s a good thing for an enthusiast, especially now that the lively Mazda RX-8 is gone.

Tom Mutchler

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