08-19-12 - Subaru BRZ Test Drive

Just took a short drive in a BRZ. This won't be a full "test drive" post, just some quick thoughts.

1. It's tiny. I had no idea from the internet pictures that it was so small; it's the size of a Miata/MX-5.

2. Driver space is okay. I could sit upright and still had head clearance. Better than a 370Z (or Miata) for example, which is too small for me. There are some weird lumps on the ceiling that might annoy me. Right leg space is a little cramped; probably no problem for short drives but would get annoying on long drives.

3. The seats are a disaster. They have the extremely narrowly set bolsters just like the Speed 3. WTF are you thinking, car makers of the world? Humans come in different sizes, you can't just put tight bolsters on a seat and offer no other options.

4. The visibility is just okay. It's not ridiculously bad like the 370Z or many other modern cars, but it's also not good like the 997 or WRX. The doors come up a lot higher than I like in a car, almost to my shoulders, but it's becoming increasingly hard to buy any car with decent visibility. The pillars are rather thicker than I like and the rear view, while again not totally ridiculous like some modern cars, is not great. (I'm pretty sure the future of cars is that they have no windows at all and the only way to avoid crashing is with all the automatic radar systems).

5. It actually sounds pretty good; they've done a nice job of tweaking it so the little wheezy 4 banger has a growl.

6. The power is pathetic. It feels like even less than 200 hp. I think the problem is there's just no torque kick anywhere in the rev range. You floor it at 2000 rpm and the revs just slowly climb without any drama. Even an old Honda Civic feels like it has more power because you get that nice VTEC lump; a jump in torque makes a car feel like it's doing more than it really is, whereas a car with low torque and high revs might actually be decently fast (it has decent hp) but feels like it's not doing much. Very disappointing.

7. The interior is servicable. It felt a bit cheaper than even a WRX interior. One particular annoyance is the gate you pull up to put it in reverse is plastic and felt really shitty, and that's something you have to touch on a semi-regular basis. Most car companies have gotten pretty smart about making the touch surfaces high quality and putting the cheapo shit where you don't touch it, so that's a silly fail.

As for the handling, I can't say anything useful because I can't push it enough on a test drive. The steering felt nice, communicative, it certainly felt like there might be something special in the chassis (as all the professional reviewers have been saying).

I am very excited about it still and I want it to be a great car (I love the idea of a small, light car that's easy to toss and easy to catch, with narrow tires so you can have fun at reasonable speeds; I hate modern super sports cars with stupid wide tires that don't start to feel exciting until over 100 mph), but don't think I'll buy one with the current engine.


Tom Forsyth said...

It's interesting reading the comparative reviews of the BRZ versus the Scion FR-S (i.e. the Honda version). The only real difference is the Scion is set up so that even with 200hp the rear will break loose pretty nicely, whereas the BRZ won't without severe provocation, which actually annoyed a bunch of reviewers because they wanted to have some power-oversteer fun.

So my theory is that the BRZ suspension was actually tuned for more like 270hp. Which you'd get by putting a turbo on it. Which is what Subaru are doing with the engine in all the other cars it will be in. But Honda hate turbos (not quite sure why), so I wonder if there was some sort of gentleman's agreement not to launch with a turbo. But it would be crazy if Subaru didn't eventually (a year?) put one on. And that would fix a lot of the complaints about the car.

Or of course I'm sure there will be "aftermarket" ones that are really just stock parts transplanted from the other cars.

cbloom said...

Honda -> Toyota , but yeah.

It really bothers me mentally that they sell the Toyota here as a Scion. But then the "Acura NSX" also always bothered me; to me Honda and Toyota are actually sexy brands, whereas Scion and Acura and Infiniti and Lexus are all really gross.

Random train of thought : I would love to have turbo car with anti-lag and the big blow off valves that race cars have, so I can shoot pops of flame out on throttle runoff and that big psshhtt pressure release. I suppose there are laws that prevent having that in a street car.

cbloom said...

I think I'm just gonna delete comments from moronic assholes from now on.

I used to believe in leaving them for posterity so everyone could see what a small-minded prick they were, but that doesn't really do any good.

I think I'd rather keep my little corner of the internet nice and tidy.

old rants