2016 Subaru BRZ

Starting MSRP: $25,395 - $28,495

Estimated MPG: 22 city / 30 hwy

2016 Subaru BRZ Review

Attractive styling and razor-sharp handling are among the 2016 Subaru BRZ’s strongest attributes. This efficient and fun-to-drive sports car also impresses with a straightforward pricing structure, new tech features and strong safety ratings.

By Jim Sharifi
Last Updated 06/15/2016

The Subaru BRZ is a four-seat sports car that’s offered in Premium and Limited trims. A Series.HyperBlue model is also offered for 2016, with production limited to just 500 units. A four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard, and a six-speed automatic transmission is available.

For 2016, the BRZ gains new standard tech features, including a rearview camera and Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system with smartphone app integration.

Exterior

Exterior
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Ask someone to think of a modern sports coupe, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the BRZ was the first model that springs to mind. 2016 marks the fourth year of production for the BRZ, which continues to offer an iconic and athletic stance with short front and rear overhangs, as well as pronounced front fenders and a roofline that falls elegantly toward the trunk lid.

Our test BRZ was a limited production Series.HyperBlue model, which carries unique paint and exterior details such as black wheels, mirrors and badging. All BRZ models come with 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as dual exhaust tips and automatic headlights. Opt for the BRZ Limited, and you’ll gain fog lights and a trunk spoiler.

Interior

Interior
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While it offers more hip room and shoulder room than the 2016 Mazda Miata’s cabin, the BRZ’s interior is still small enough that some drivers may find it a little confining. At 6-foot-1, I was able to find a comfortable driving position, though taller drivers may want additional headroom. The BRZ seats four, but the back seat is best reserved for cargo if you run out of room in the 6.9-cubic-foot trunk. The front seats are firm, well-bolstered and easily adjustable, though I would have welcomed lumbar adjustment for a little additional support.

Like any true sports car, the 2016 BRZ features a driver-focused cockpit with straightforward controls. A large, centrally located tachometer resides in the gauge cluster, and is flanked by an analog speedometer on one side and fuel and temperature readouts on the other. Most interior materials are hard plastics, but they look attractive and are nicely textured. Our test BRZ Series.HyperBlue included leather and Alcantara upholstery, as well as blue contrast stitching on the steering wheel, shifter and seats.

While our test BRZ is one of just 500 cars produced, its standard equipment parallels what you’ll find on the Limited trim, which is likely the model we would recommend. Opting for the Limited model brings in comfort and convenience features that include dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and keyless access with push-button start.

Performance

Performance
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The 2016 BRZ comes with a horizontally opposed 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and downshift rev matching is available.

The EPA reports that the BRZ gets 22/30 mpg city/highway. Models with the automatic transmission get slightly better estimates, returning 25/34 mpg.

Some might think that the BRZ could use a little more power, but we enjoyed the responsiveness of its four-cylinder engine, which offers just enough oomph to keep the driving experience fun. The six-speed manual transmission is a little notchy, but short throws and a firm clutch pedal make it easy to get acclimated behind the wheel.

Quick steering and confidence-inspiring handling make the BRZ a joy to drive on winding roads, proving that you don’t need to spend a fortune for a thrilling driving experience. The BRZ’s brakes are easy to modulate, and a firm pedal provides plenty of assurance when it’s time to bring the car to a stop.

Technology

Technology
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The BRZ gains a notable tech update for 2016, as Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system now comes standard on both trims. Starlink is a straightforward system with user-friendly touch-screen menus. The 6.2-inch screen is flanked by three buttons on either side for easy access to primary functions, and the system offers Bluetooth and USB connectivity, as well as satellite radio and integration with smartphone apps like Pandora, Stitcher and iHeartRadio.

The BRZ may not meet the standard of some technophiles. It lacks features such as steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and the latest technologies such as Apple CarPlay are not yet offered. Still, we appreciate Subaru’s purist approach, as the cabin is designed to keep the emphasis on enjoying the drive rather than getting bogged down with too many bells and whistles.

Safety

Safety
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The 2016 Subaru BRZ earned a top five-star rating for its overall performance in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests. It also performed well in tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), receiving top scores of Good in all but the small overlap front test, where it received the second-highest score of Acceptable.

The BRZ comes standard with a rearview camera, antilock brakes, stability control and a suite of air bags. Driver assistance features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring are not offered.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The 2016 Subaru BRZ starts at $25,395 plus a $795 destination charge. The Limited trim starts at $27,395 and the low-production BRZ Series.HyperBlue carries a suggested starting price of $27,690. If you want an automatic transmission, it’s a $1,100 option that’s available only on the BRZ Limited.

While competitors like the 2016 Ford Mustang and Miata offer slightly lower starting prices, we think the 2016 BRZ continues to represent a strong performance value. There aren’t a lot of options to inflate the cost of entry, and the newly standard Starlink system is a welcome addition. We’d spend the extra $2,000 and opt for the Limited trim, which brings in nicer interior materials, heated front seats and keyless access.

Overall

Overall
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While some buyers may want more power, the Subaru BRZ continues to shine as a top pick among small, lightweight sports cars. Shoppers who want more passenger space or practicality may want to check out the 2016 Subaru WRX or Volkswagen GTI, but the BRZ’s world-class handling and competitive base price make it a great pick for buyers who want to spice up their commute with a peppy and fuel-efficient sports coupe.

We’d also recommend checking out the redesigned Miata, the related Scion FR-S and possibly hatchbacks like the Ford Focus ST and Mini Cooper S. Each of these models provides a unique and enjoyable driving experience that’s worth consideration before you make your final buying decision.