Why does Subaru of America keep the rear-drive 2023 BRZ sport coupe in the all-wheel-drive lineup with so few sales? Subaru reports the BRZ two-door coupe dropped 69.6 percent in December, with just 325 models delivered to customers. The BRZ sports coupe finished the year up 44.2 percent, with 3,345 models delivered to U.S. customers.
The BRZ is the worst-performing sales carline for Subaru of America. Is there still a place for the sport coupe in the all-wheel-drive lineup? Consumer Reports says the BRZ is one of the ten most satisfying cars to own.
Part of the reason for the significant sales drop to finish the year is only a few sports car buyers want to drive a rear-drive car in the winter months. The BRZ is a summer car designed for dry roads with sharp S curves.
Why does Subaru keep the BRZ around with so few sales?
The rear-drive BRZ sports coupe doesn't fit Subaru's niche market of all-wheel-drive, recreation-purposed models, and it's not an SUV. The Japanese automaker doesn't sell that many BRZ models in the U.S., and sales are down.
You have heard of a loss leader
Subaru has always used the rear-drive BRZ coupe to get new buyers in the door who would not come into a Subaru dealer. Think of the sports car like a loss leader. Subaru brings new buyers through the door who are drawn in by its sporty looks and driver-connected driving dynamics.
These consumers are looking for something other than an all-wheel-drive crossover. After they check the showroom, they will learn about the benefits of the Crosstrek subcompact SUV, Outback midsize SUV, and Forester compact SUV models.
The BRZ is a tool to get new people into their showrooms, who usually wouldn't darken the doors, and it's working. The BRZ will be someone's second car and won't be used as a daily driver year-round in most cases.
Subaru will use their other vehicles like the Crosstrek, Outback, or Forester SUVs to grab these buyers' attention when they are looking for a car for everyday use and need an all-weather all-wheel-drive vehicle. Subaru is attracting many new buyers who have never purchased a Subaru vehicle.
The BRZ is an affordable second car
The 2023 Subaru BRZ comes in two trim levels with two transmission options. The BRZ Premium with a 6-speed manual gearbox has a starting price of $29,615. BRZ Premium with an automatic transmission starts at $33,115. The Limited (6-speed manual) has a starting MSRP of $32,115. The Limited with an automatic transmission starts at $33,255. All pricing includes destination and delivery fees.
The BRZ is fuel efficient
The 2023 Subaru BRZ with the 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated Boxer engine gets an EPA-estimated 20/27 city/highway mpg and 22 combined mpg with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The BRZ with a CVT automatic transmission gets 21/30 city/highway mpg and 25 combined mpg.
BRZ gets top safety scores
The 2023 Subaru BRZ rides on a new platform that comes with EyeSight safety technology. Both helped the sports coupe earn the 2022 Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It's the first time the BRZ achieved the highest safety score.
The next-generation BRZ also received a "Superior" rating in front crash protection for the first time. The BRZ earned the highest "Good" ratings in six IIHS crashworthiness evaluations, including the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, original side, roof strength, and head restraint tests.
Car and Driver announced the 2023 Subaru BRZ is again one of its 10 Best Cars for 2023. C & D says they picked the ten cars "that live up to their purpose while delivering incredible value and a great driving experience."
Car and Driver says, "These cars are built not for bragging rights but to entertain the human behind the wheel. They embrace the concept of enough, drawing attention to the space left unfilled by extra pounds and a daunting monthly payment. They're utterly wonderful."
Our take: The BRZ is a good value for the price and it's fun to drive. The BRZ has the lowest center of gravity and drives like a more expensive sports car. The BRZ has been criticized for not having a turbocharged engine, which would change its driving dynamics.
Subaru won't drop the BRZ from its all-wheel-drive lineup. The 2023 Subaru BRZ sport coupe is the worst-performing model in Subaru of America's all-wheel-drive lineup, but it serves a valuable purpose. It gets new customers in the door. And it is one of the best sports car values in America.
Customers won't be driving the BRZ in snow, but they will pick one of Subaru's small SUVs, like the hot Crosstrek, to commute to work and head to the ski slopes this winter.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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