The all-new, rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ sports car made its 2012 U.S. debut at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
Arriving in Subaru dealerships this spring, the BRZ “delivers pinpoint handling precision and an unmatched driving experience for sports car enthusiasts of all skill levels,” according to a press release.
Subaru developed the BRZ with the fundamental of sports car design in mind: low vehicle weight, an ultra-low center of gravity and precision steering. Utilizing Subaru’s naturally aspirated 200-hp horizontally opposed (Boxer) engine design, the BRZ features 2+2 seating and folding rear seats that offers cargo space sufficient to transport four race tires and tools to track days.
“The recent sports car trend has been to focus on ‘ultimate’ power, luxury and performance,” the release noted. “As a result, many sports cars have grown heavier and more expensive. Seeking a pure sports car for road and track driving, Subaru followed a purist approach to engineering the 2013 BRZ.”
Using a large proportion of high-tensile steel, with aluminum for the hood, the 2013 Subaru BRZ weighs an estimated 2,762 pounds for the U.S production models, making it the lightest closed rear-wheel drive sports car in the U.S. market today, according to the company.
Critical to its agile handling, the Subaru BRZ has one of the lowest centers of gravity of any production car in the world at just 18.1 inches. A rear-wheel drive configuration allows placement of the engine lower and farther back.
The all-new Subaru FA-Series 2.0-liter Boxer engine was engineered specifically for the BRZ to help achieve the car’s ultra-low center of gravity package. The engine was made more compact than the FB 2.0-liter Impreza engine with a shorter intake manifold and a shallower oil pan.
The 4-2-1 exhaust exits with dual outlets, and the system has been tuned for a throaty sound. Directing some of the intake sound into the cabin also adds to the performance-tuned feeling of the car.
The Subaru BRZ engine has a true “square” architecture, meaning that its bore and stroke dimensions are each the same, in this case 3.38 inches (86mm), the company notes. That gives the BRZ engine a quick-revving nature, with a 7,400-rpm redline. Yet, the engine’s broad torque curve, which peaks at an estimated 150 foot-pounds and offers a strong midrange, makes the BRZ feel responsive in daily driving.
The Subaru BRZ Boxer engine employs the Toyota D-4S fuel injection system, which uniquely combines direct injection and port injection technology. A direct-type fuel-injection system, which sprays fuel directly into the combustion chambers rather than upstream into the ports, provides a cooling effect in the cylinders. That enables use of a very high compression ratio (12.5:1 for the Subaru BRZ engine) to extract maximum energy from the fuel.
The driving enthusiast can choose between a new six-speed manual and optional six-speed automatic. The six-speed manual presents the driver with a short-throw shift lever, and the pedals have been optimized for heel-and-toe downshifting.
The optional paddle-shift six-speed automatic transmission offers no-compromise performance, allowing the driver to select Sport mode from a switch on the center console for quicker, firmer automatic shifts. Or, the driver can move the console mounted shifter from “D” to “M” and then shift manually using the shifter handle or the steering wheel paddle shifters. Downshift blipping control enhances the more direct sports car experience.
The Subaru BRZ is built on an entirely new platform and shares just a few parts with other Subaru models, but shares suspension architecture with the new Impreza and WRX STI, the company added.
The front suspension uses struts and coil springs to keep weight low. The front struts were mounted low and optimized for a low hood line while retaining a long stroke for ideal handling and ride quality. The new, exclusively designed double-wishbone rear suspension system provides outstanding bump absorption to enhance tire grip over varied surfaces.
Electric power steering, which reduces weight and load on the engine compared to hydraulic power steering, has been tuned for optimum feedback. The quick 13:1 steering ratio and 14.4-inch diameter steering wheel endow the Subaru BRZ with extremely quick steering response.
The BRZ, like all current Subaru models, employs the brand’s Ring Shaped Reinforcement Frame body structure for occupant safety. Giving the BRZ a stiff body structure and ultra-low center of gravity allowed Subaru to tune the suspension for both agility and compliant ride quality.
It rides on 215/45R17 tires that reduce wheel/tire weight and therefore un-sprung weight. A standard Torsen limited-slip differential helps the inside wheel maintain traction during hard cornering. For track driving, the standard Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) stability and traction system offers the driver five different settings.
Inside, “the Subaru BRZ subscribes to a simple, elegant approach to interior design, with a focus on driver involvement through easy-to-use controls. The bolstered front sport seats were designed just for this car. The driver faces an easy-to-see instrument panel featuring a large, center-mounted tachometer with an analog speedometer to its left. The tachometer integrates a digital speedometer, and the fuel and temperature gauges are positioned to the right of the tachometer,” the company stated.
Production of the Subaru BRZ is conducted at its Gunma, Japan assembly plant.