In my recent review I mentioned that you all should go and buy the Subaru BRZ because it is everything you all wanted – stick, rear-wheel-drive, fun, efficient, and affordable. I really think it is the best new car performance buy for the buck. In fact, I’m sure of it: GTI/Si/ST are wrong wheel drive, the American muscle cars are just too damn big and heavy, the Miata is too damn small for most of us, and most others are just priced out of reach for many. Those are all great cars, but the BRZ and its Toyota sibling simply give you more grins per dollar.
Now Subaru made the BRZ harder to resist thanks to the addition of the Performance Package.
Jeff being Jeff, made a video of the BRZ with performance package at an amazing race track on the other side of the world, near an equally amazing resort. Because that’s how Jeff rolls, as he should. But now I have the exact same car, down to the license plates and USA sticker on the bumper, which Jeff drove in Spain, on the streets of Boston.
So what’s changed?
Well, the weather changed. We are in the early summer which this year means heavy rains and temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. I haven’t even dipped a toe in my pool yet – why do I keep living here, I do not know as this sure as hell ain’t Spain or even Florida. Roads here are much worse here than they are in southern Spain or Palm Beach, too.
How does the BRZ with the Performance Package adapt to this change in weather and the roads?
Quite well, actually. Frankly, in daily driving and casual on-street hooning I couldn’t tell the difference between the performance packaged and a package-less car and that is a good thing. It’s still as honest, analog, and mechanical as ever. The addition of the performance package has no ill impacts on daily ride and driving characteristics. Go drive some owner-modified BRZ examples and you’ll quickly learn that many of their improvements actually make the car worse to live with.
The basic BRZ is already a damn capable vehicle. The changes and improvements that this package presents really show themselves only in extreme hooning, as you might find while at a track day. Better brakes arrive in the form of sexy Brembo red 4-piston front and 2-piston rear calipers. Stiffer shocks and slightly larger wheels allow for more grip in corners. These are all Track Upgrades 101, but in this case they don’t make the car worse on the street. Win-win.
Subaru being Subaru, knowing that I am famous-ish race car driver and can handle a 205-horsepower car with confidence, even allowed me to take it to a local track… but unfortunately life got in the way. If you want impressions of how the BRZ with Performance Package behaves on the track, you will need to watch Jeff’s video again.
Seriously, if you’re thinking of a car in this category, just go and buy the BRZ. You won’t have any regrets. No, it’s not perfect, far from it, but damn it, it will make you grin each time you drive it. The Performance Package is best suited for people who will drive their BRZ daily and do several track days per year. If you have no real track-driving ambitions, you don’t need it.
Given some spending money, I would love nothing more than to put a cage and race seat in a BRZ and just make it my track whore. This idea isn’t exactly original as the BRZ’s twin became the new “reasonably fast car” on Top Gear. I guess they loved it, too.
[Disclaimer: Subaru of America, Inc. took one of the cars that journalists beat the crap out of at a track in Spain, brought it back to U.S., and gave it to me for a long weekend for the purpose of this review. It drove like new.]