A day at the track with the 2013 Subaru BRZ

Posted on: November 26th, 2012 by Danny Battaglia

subaru brz at the track

The Subaru BRZ knows how to do more with less, a combination that strongly describes my personal tastes in automobiles. I have always been a fan of small displacement, light, dynamic vehicles – the BRZ puts that all together with an added bonus of RWD, rarely seen in affordable sporty coupes since the late 90’s. The cockpit is comfortable and informative, with easy to read gauges, a shift light indicator, and well-positioned pedals and shifter. Upon start-up you notice the rough idle of the boxer engine, but while the sound takes a little getting used to, you quickly realize it is worth the trade-off for the extremely balanced chassis (due to the low center of gravity the layout provides).

Initial acceleration is not the strongest quality of the BRZ, but it still has enough power to hit a reasonable 0-60 time – faster than you should ever launch on public roads anyway. The BRZ really shines when you are at speed, taking the twisties through the mountains or hitting apexes on the racetrack. For this reason, I took it out to Buttonwillow Raceway Park with a couple of the Editors to put it through its paces in a closed course environment. At this particular track day, passing was only allowed on the two main straightaways, but I found myself passing other cars almost every lap, since the BRZ could keep it’s speed through the final turns and hold off the faster cars until the next braking zone. I was able to close ground on vehicles like CTS-Vs, Camaros and other higher horsepower cars, every time we entered the slalom or a series of tight turns.

Besides the overall balance of the BRZ, the steering feel stood out to me next. I felt very connected and knew exactly where I would track out after each turn. It required little to no adjustment mid-corner and had the added benefit of steering assist from the acceleration pedal. If I found myself understeering slightly, I could keep the same steering angle but just barely pull pack on the throttle for a moment and it would tuck its nose in right back where I wanted it. By the end of the day I had traction control off and could control both understeer and oversteer with my right foot – getting on the throttle at high rpms to pivot the rear end or letting off slightly to tuck in the front end.

Since the sessions were short I did not notice any brake fade. I had heard beforehand that the brakes could not hold up to hard tracking, so I would let off early and use them sparingly throughout the day. The tires were solid and did not show much wear after 4-5 sessions, but they definitely left some time on the track that could easily be shaved off by mounting a stickier set of rubber.

The BRZ is the type of car that is comfortable to drive to the track and back (albeit with a lot of road and engine noise), while having fun mixing it up with race prepped cars, in stock guise. You might get a little frustrated trying to make a Bluetooth call at 75 miles an hour, but the lack of steering wheel controls and distracting tech features highlight that the BRZ is a driver’s car first.