Nothing Moves you Like the 2016 Subaru BRZ
Within minutes of taking the wheel of a Subaru BRZ, one thought comes to my mind: “I need to take this car for a spin on the back roads!”
And so on a cool morning, I push the start button in the BRZ and head to the Highlands region, a 1,300-square-mile swath of northern New Jersey that’s also part of the Appalachian range reaching from Georgia to Maine. The state, county, and local roads that crisscross this pastoral area snake along scenic ridges, through glacier-carved valleys and past numerous lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and state parks. Some Colonial-era homes and churches still dot the roads, and the region’s restricted-development laws keep suburban sprawl at bay. I have no particular destination, just hours to spend driving – and the ideal vehicle in which to do it.
Today I’ll follow an old favorite route, crossing the Ramapo Mountains over a road that barely straightens for longer than quarter-mile stretches. It’s here that the BRZ states its purpose emphatically. The driving position is sports car perfect: low, with snug performance-design front seats upholstered in leather and Alcantara®1 for the Limited trim I’m driving.
It’s All About the Feel
Carving through curves and downshifting to maintain momentum out of them, I realize something: I’m not preoccupied with thinking about the BRZ. Sure, I know how its 200-horsepower, direct-injection SUBARU BOXER engine loves to rev. But because this vehicle is so intuitive, so effortless, I’m free to just enjoy the drive. I’m not getting distracted by questions as to how it works. This is where you want a great sports car to take you; to get you out of your head so you can truly lose yourself in the driving experience.
2016 BRZ interior
I glide by local forests that hide the remains of iron mines dating back to the Revolutionary War. Erskine Lake in nearby Ringwood was named for Robert Erskine, a mine owner who was also named Geographer and Surveyor General of the Continental army at the rank of colonel by George Washington in 1777. At the intersection with Passaic County Road 511, I point the BRZ north. The road twists and turns westward to cross the Wanaque and Monksville reservoirs. As I work through a section of switchbacks, blipping the throttle to match revs on downshifts is second nature, abetted by one of the smoothest clutches I’ve driven. I’m aware of the 6-speed manual transmission taking full advantage of the BRZ engine’s unique torque curve, but that’s due to the seat-of-the-pants physicality of the vehicle and the “click-click” precision of the short-throw shifter rather than any intellectualizing on my part.
BRZ has an ultra-low center of gravity
at 18.11 inches.
I give barely any thought to the stiff body structure, ultra-low center of gravity, double-wishbone rear suspension and TORSEN limited-slip differential as I drive. I just toss this pure sporting vehicle into the tightest bends and it tenaciously cleaves to the pavement. As the curves tighten, the electric power-assist steering begins to feel telepathic. Did I turn the wheel or just think it and the BRZ responded?
Did I turn the wheel or just think it and the BRZ responded?
The BRZ has that other kind of connectivity too, thanks to the new-for-2016-models SUBARU STARLINK3 Connected Services, featuring a 6.2-inch touch-screen and a slew of phone and music features, and cloud applications. But here’s a tip: For your own escape drive, set your phone to voicemail and use it to stream music through the 8-speaker audio system.
When I reach Union Valley Road in West Milford, I pass through a small town area and then take this mostly straight route through undeveloped forest. It’s ideal for exploring the BRZ’s impressive acceleration capability – obeying posted speed limits, of course. This is a conduit to Route 23; a highway that emerges from congested eastern suburbs and winds northwesterly to the state’s appropriately named High Point State Park. But I jump off before that in Hardyston to take County Road 515 north. A smorgasbord of long sweepers, crests, and dips bring out the best in the BRZ as I roll past panoramic views of the Kittatinny Valley and Ridge.
With 6.9 cubic feet of trunk space, BRZ has room for the whole family.
After about six miles, 515 joins with Route 94, another picturesque ribbon that eventually splits off to go northward into the quaint village of Warwick, New York. It’s here that I turn back, taking 94 further southward before making my way home, which was never more than about 40 miles away. The sight of a police cruiser parked to the side of the road reminds me, too, that I need to think about my speed in the BRZ. My next thought is that the engineer who put a digital speedometer readout inside the tachometer face deserves a bonus.
What I do know without having to do any thinking at all is that driving the BRZ is a true joy. I’m simply feeling the fluidity of all the elements of the BRZ coming together, communicated through its intuitive controls. It’s the “mechanicalness” that originally made me fall in love with sports cars. And I think about the undeniably welcome qualities of modern features such as all-weather comfort, weekend luggage capacity, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the BRZ earned a TOP SAFETY PICK rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Get behind the wheel of a BRZ. Learn more at subaru.com/brz.
1 Alcantara is a registered trademark of Alcantara S.p.A., and Alcantara is produced by the Toray Group.
2 TORSEN is a registered trademark of JTEKT TORSEN North America, Inc.
3 Compatible smartphone and application required. For applications to operate, latest version of each application and optional integrated audio and navigation system unit required. Data provided by smartphone is displayed on navigation screen. Some state laws prohibit the operation of handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Smartphone apps should only be launched when vehicle is safely parked. Your wireless carrier’s rates may apply.
4 Compatible smartphone and free Aha app required. For Aha to operate, latest version of Aha application and optional integrated audio and navigation system unit required. Data provided by smartphone is displayed on navigation screen. Your wireless carrier’s rates may apply. Use of app may be restricted by applicable law.