The 2013 Subaru BRZ needs little introduction. Rumors and photos of various prototypes and test mules have circulated the web for years. But this is the BRZ STI Concept, the supposed dialed-up-to-11 sports car for purists, fanboys, and the next generation of gear heads. And in an age of belt-tightening finances and CAFE mileage mandates, a track-worthy, front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car is not supposed to exist in the sub-$30,000 market. Yet everything about this car is either new, or finally, un-abandoned. As a joint-effort between Subaru and its 17-percent controlling parent, Toyota, the BRZ is an unabashed sports car. Production details are still forthcoming, but we know that the BRZ—and the BRZ STI, should it go into production—will feature a 2.0-liter flat-4 making more than 200 horsepower, but decidedly “less than 300 horsepower.” Modest power plus light weight equals fast car. And with a six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, and perhaps the lowest center-of-gravity of any car on the road, the BRZ (and BRZ STI) is sure to induce many smiles—even with the wing.
Who It’s For
The BRZ STI Concept seems like it was designed for pubescent boys and young men who act like pubescent boys. Maybe it’s the wild paint job, the gold rims, the wing, or the only-in-name backseat, but the BRZ STI Concept is, with its stiffened suspension, massive Brembo brake system, and tweaked engine tuning, a dream come true for automotive enthusiasts. Though the efficient injection system is Toyota design, and the BRZ (and STI) should see respectable mileage (relative is the word to keep in mind here), the BRZ STI Concept is not likely to be adored by moms and commuters.
Subaru has packed the 2013 BRZ STI Concept with the usual STI goodies minus one—the turbo. But under the hood lays a potent and efficient powerplant that is more than sufficient for a spirited drive. That focus extends to the interior as well. Look for:
- Engine: The 2.0-liter flat-4 is an all-new engine with some Toyota tweaks for efficiency, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this car is short on power or character.
- Interior: Driver-oriented cockpit is more plush than the Toyota/Scion versions. Also, how important is a backseat? Talk about features here.
- Price: We’re hoping for closer to $20k, but thinking just under $30k.
What We Think
Enthusiast-centered cars are not our main focus, but this sportster has been bandied about for several years. That kind of lasting attention speaks toward the BRZ’s hype and the niche market it will likely corner. And with a sub-$30,000 price point, competitive mileage ratings, and reliable backing by an industry giant, the BRZ occupies a strange and almost lonely segment within the consumer’s mindset. Will its sport-tuned suspension be too much for the commuter? Is there enough trunk space for a trip to the grocery store? Is it a hardtop Mazda MX-5, or like a more snarling version of Honda’s S2000? Will it be the sportster for the masses, or is the BRZ STI a barely-legal racetrack monster? We’re looking forward to finding out.