$21,995 - $28,547

2018 Subaru BRZ Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 9.0

The 2018 Subaru BRZ is a light sports coupe that's exceptionally fun to drive, mostly thanks to a brisk engine and responsive handling from its composed suspension. Drivers who prefer to row their own gears will especially enjoy the standard manual transmission.

  • "Co-developed by Subaru and Toyota, the BRZ and 86 (formerly Scion FR-S) are nearly identical twins. The only differences are styling nuances and suspension tuning. … Each is powered by the same … engine, mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission. That combo delivers ample acceleration, thanks to well-chosen gear ratios, and impressive fuel economy of 30 mpg." -- Consumer Reports
  • "In short, Subaru has made one of the best-handling cars under $30,000 several hairs better. You can't help but have fun in a car so capable of making you feel like a cornering hero every time you make a left. But if you're buying it for the extra power, you've got the wrong idea." -- Autoblog (2017)
  • "This is arguably the car business' last best hope for a fun, inexpensive sports car. It puts an exclamation point on the notion that a car without a gazillion horsepower or a six-figure sticker is fun to drive." -- Autoweek (2017)

Acceleration and Power

Powering the BRZ is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine with a 205-horsepower rating (200 with the automatic transmission). That may not be the most powerful engine for a sports car, but with its brisk power delivery, this car feels plenty energetic. Equally as fun is its standard six-speed manual transmission. You can also opt for a six-speed automatic transmission, available only in the BRZ Limited. No other powertrain options are available for 2018.

The BRZ's fuel economy is similar to other four-cylinder-powered sports cars, at 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with the automatic transmission and 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the manual. The BRZ tS (which features the same size engine, the same horsepower rating, and STI performance enhancements) earns estimates of 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway.

  • "Acceleration isn't lightning quick, but it is plenty responsive. 0-60 times in the low seven-second range are nothing to scoff at and the drivetrain's character is well matched to the car. Most of our enthusiast drivers didn't think the car needs more power. The engine delivers a satisfying and deep-throated growl over 4500 rpm." -- Consumer Reports
  • "Yes, it feels a bit quicker off the line thanks to that new rear end, but I never really thought the old BRZ was a dog to begin with. The motor likes to be revved! The performance you seek is there, you just have to wring it out to find it. That's part of the fun here -- thanks to the buzzy powertrain, low seating position and quick handling, you'll feel like you're going 10 or 15 mph faster than whatever the speedometer says. And that's great!" -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "The six-speed manual that came in my test vehicle was still a delight, with tight throws and a well-weighted clutch pedal." -- Cars.com (2017)

Handling and Braking

While Subaru is known for its all-wheel-drive vehicles, the rear-wheel-drive-only BRZ is the exception. Handling is responsive and precise, and the BRZ is extremely nimble. Ride quality is firm but livable.

  • … the ride is stiff but not too punishing by sports car standards. The suspension is compliant enough to take most bumps while providing some isolation, but ride motions are short and quick, making it feel busy and choppy on any type of road. The BRZ feels slightly harsher than the Toyota, with a firmer suspension setup." -- Consumer Reports
  • "The best part of is that it's a blast to throw around corners, and Subaru managed to keep the car true to form. There isn't much brake dive, the suspension keeps this Subie flat as can be -- yet it isn't back-breaking stiff when hitting your average pothole." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "If carving roads, wringing out an engine for all its worth and manually shifting through gears is your idea of fun, you'll smile every time you start the BRZ. We appreciate the revised suspension tuning and extra horses under the hood in manual-transmission models, but the biggest difference with the 2017 model is not seen but felt at its cornering limits. The BRZ's stability control threshold has been increased, enabling you to slide the tail with less intrusion from the safety system." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

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