Review: Subaru BRZ Limited with Performance Package; Why it’s the Best Sports Coupe Value Going
The Subaru BRZ gets a refresh and a number of upgrades for the new model year. With improved handling, increased power, enhanced exterior styling and new convenience features, the 2017 Subaru BRZ is likely the best sports coupe value going. Subaru’s original mission was to offer driving enthusiasts a pure sports car with an unmatched driving experience. The BRZ accomplishes that. This week we’ll drive the 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited with the new Performance Package and see how it handles in the mountains and curves west of Denver.
What’s new for 2017?
The 2017 Subaru BRZ comes with a number of new upgrades. It features improved performance and added horsepower, a new performance package, new exterior design, updated interior, standard LED headlights and taillights and a new track mode.
This isn’t a full redesign for the BRZ sports coupe, it’s a refresh before the new second-generation model shows up sometime in 2018. But the changes are significant and should push the rear-drive sports car even higher on the fun-to-drive meter.
Features and options
The Subaru BRZ Limited with the manual 6-speed gearbox ($27,645) comes standard with LED foglights, a rear spoiler, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, Alcantara upholstery, upgraded interior trim, a digital display in the gauge cluster for performance data, and an All-Weather package that includes heated mirrors and heated front seats.
Electronic features include Subaru's Starlink infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a navigation system, voice controls, smartphone app integration (including Aha Radio, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Stitcher, plus news, weather and calendar features), and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.
The new BRZ Performance Package ($1,195) was the only option on this Limited trim tester. It includes Brembo calipers and larger rotors on both front and rear brakes for better stopping power. The advanced braking system should give BRZ a significant boost in stopping power, fade resistance, and pedal feel. The package also includes SACHS Performance shock absorbers on all four corners for improved ride and cornering stability. Also included in the package are special 17-in x 7.5-in black aluminum alloy wheels. Total MSRP including destination: $29,660.
Subaru tweaked the outside styling and BRZ gets a redesigned front bumper cover with a widened appearance and positioned lower for improved aerodynamics, control, and stability. All trims now come with an aluminum rear spoiler in matching body color and black finish. Subaru says it will improve the vehicle’s downforce improving stability and control. Also the rear garnish above the license plate has a new design that comes standard on both trims. This Limited tester gets the new 10-spoke, 17-in aluminum alloy wheel with a high-contract black with machine finish. More on Page 2.
BRZs cockpit also gets updated. This Limited trim gets a 4.2-in LCD multifunction display positioned to the right of the tach. The information readout provides access to vehicle performance including lateral Gs, accelerator pedal position, braking force, steering angle, oil and water temperature, and battery voltage as well as an integrated stop watch for recording lap times.
The steering wheel has been redesigned with new audio controls and multifunction display switches and we think it gives the sports coupe a sportier feel inside. This Limited model also came with a wrapped meter visor, updated HVAC control panel updated, and “BRZ” embroidered in red on the front seatbacks.
The front seats are one of the best features and offer superior support for spirited driving yet still comfortable enough for longer road trips. Headroom is good for taller drivers, and the tilt/telescoping steering wheel, makes it’s fairy easy to find the perfect driving position. A rearview camera comes standard which helped this week as visibility is limited to the rear in the two-door sports coupe.
Room in the backseat is good for small children only and adults won’t be able to ride unless the front seat is moved up leaving very little room. There’s some trunk space with 6.9 cubic feet, good for the few bags we had this week after a shopping trip to the grocery store, but the rear seatback folds flat expanding cargo capacity considerably.
Engine and fuel mileage specs
The 2017 BRZ is powered by a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated boxer engine. The engine gets internal upgrades and improved power for 2017. The BRZ powerplant gets several internal updates for friction reduction including new valves, camshaft and cylinder heads. Accompanied with a new aluminum intake manifold and redesigned exhaust manifold for increased air flow, the engine output in models with the 6-speed manual transmission is increased to 205hp and 156 lb-ft of torque. This Limited tester came with the 6-speed manual gearbox, and the manual rower gets a new lower final drive ratio from 4.1 to 4.3:1. It’s mated with the standard Torsen limited-slip differential.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21/29 highway mpg and 24 combined mpg with the manual gearbox. We achieved 33.2 mpg for the week, considerably better than the estimates, if the digital readout on the dash is correct.
The Subaru BRZ is for driving enthusiasts who want a superior handling sports coupe. It ramps up the fun-to-drive meter and you don’t have to spend more than $30K to get it. Subaru accomplished this by using the boxer engine that sits low and farther back in the chassis, giving the BRZ a center of gravity lower than more expensive sports cars. More on Page 3.
The optional performance package with SACHS Performance shocks showed up in it’s superior covering ability. We took it up into the mountains west of Denver in the twisty roads near Evergreen. Luckily, the foot of spring snow that fell this week melted quickly and we had a chance to test it out in the tight mountain corners. The BRZ kept its balance with minimal body roll as we tossed it around the curves.
The rear-drive BRZ’s handling and body control is superb and inspires driver confidence, even without all-wheel drive. The Torsen limited-slip differential gives excellent rear grip on both sides, enabling sure footed exits. On one tight exit from the highway, we took the corner at 25 mph higher than the recommended speed, pushed it hard through the turn, and the sports coupe grabbed the pavement like it had paws.
The Performance Package’s Brembo brakes also inspired confidence this week as we found out how the BRZ stopped us quickly with its improved grip. The sport-tuned suspension feels taut but still compliant, but it does get bouncy over rough pavement that can result in driver fatigue after a long drive, and the cabin is a bit noisy at high speeds.
The 205hp boxer engine has enough power for most driving situations, and even at the high-altitudes where we tested the BRZ. With the 6-speed gearbox, it allowed us to keep the revs high and the power band at optimum levels. Driving enthusiasts will want the 6-speed manual as it engages easily, and the short throw makes it a joy to drive.
The refreshed 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited with the Performance Package is a great sports coupe value for driving enthusiasts. For under $30K, it offers up superior driving dynamics with improved handling, increased performance, enhanced exterior styling and new convenience features for the 2017 model year.