2017 Subaru BRZ arrives with a modest refreshing

Roseville, CA- Are you looking for a sports car that is enjoyable to drive that won’t put a major dent in the bank account?

The answer may come from an unlikely manufacturer: Subaru. The Japanese automaker has built its reputation on producing safety-conscious vehicles exclusively equipped with all-wheel drive.

A two-door coup that seats four people, the Subaru BRZ breaks the mold somewhat. It’s the only model in the Subaru lineup without all-wheel drive. The rear-wheel drive BRZ does follow the Subaru safety plan, receiving four of five stars in government crash tests.

Introduced in 2013, the BRZ can be that fun car one loves to drive on country roads or also serve as suitable transportation for the commute to work.

Actually, Subaru can’t take all the credit for the BRZ. It shares development with Toyota, whose version is the Toyota 86 (previously the Scion FR-S). What both these cars have in common is a light weight (2,760 to 2,809 pounds), rear-wheel-drive, and a flat-4 “boxer” engine.

2017 Subaru BRZ

* Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 205 horsepower
* Mileage estimate: 21-33 mpg
* Estimated price: $26,300 to $30,500
* Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited

The 2017 Subaru BRZ arrived with a modest refreshing. There are slight changes to the manual transmission and suspension, the exterior is a little different, and it now has a bit more performance.

The BRZ sits low to the ground and was designed more for its handling capability on curvy roads than straight-ahead acceleration. The new suspension was done with the goal of improving ride quality and handling.

Although not a huge fan of shifting gears any longer, the ease of the BRZ manual transmission enhanced the driving experience. The BRZ is capable of making agile turns on any challenging road while also demonstrating enough speed to maneuver in freeway situations, and has good braking capability.

The BRZ utilizes a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that increased the horsepower (205) and pound-feet of torque (156) this year in the standard six-speed manual model. It goes approximately 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds.

The optional automatic transmission is quite a bit slower, clocked at 7.9 seconds over the same distance. Gas mileage is 21-29 mpg in the manual and increases to 24-33 mpg in the automatic.

Although the BRZ is a throwback to sports cars of old, that also includes the limited interior makeup that historically typifies the class. Forget about storing much of anything, because outside of the glove compartment there is a general lack of storage areas and no center console.

Unlike some sports cars, the BRZ provides good leg and head room that is comfortable for front seat occupants on long trips. Of course, it’s just the opposite if you happen to be stuck in the cramped back seat. Leg room is practically nonexistent and many back seat folks will find their heads very close to the window.

A plus with the BRZ is the trunk space is better than anticipated (6.9 cubic feet) and can store several travel bags and other items. The sports car also comes equipped with high-tech features like navigation, HD radio and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.

If you’re a fan of old-school sports cars, give the Subaru BRZ a test drive. It supplies the fun factor that sports cars typically deliver and it’s offered at a reasonable price – around $26,000. We might like it even better if it had a convertible option.