The 2018 Subaru BRZ presents a classic sports car shape along with a willing engine and a terrific manual transmission. It's a bantam fighter that delivers excellent handling, although the rear seat shouldn’t be seriously considered for passenger use.

Best Value

The 2018 Subaru BRZ is a four-passenger sport coupe that comes in three trims: Premium, Limited, and an all-new tS model limited to 500 units. The BRZ is rear-wheel drive and comes with a horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine paired with either a manual or an automatic transmission.

Our pick of the three trims is the Limited as it brings in features we like, including Subaru Starlink multimedia with navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. You’ll also find keyless entry, push-button start, Alcantara/leather-trimmed upholstery, and automatic climate control.

We didn’t select any options, the BRZ is nicely equipped as is. This means the manual is our choice because, well, that’s the whole reason for buying this car.

  • Model: 2018 Subaru BRZ Limited
  • Engine: 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine
  • Output: 205 hp (200 hp with the automatic)/156 lb.-ft. (151 with the automatic)
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 21 City / 29 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price: $29,305 (including an $860 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $29,305

Performance

Subaru BRZ

The Subaru BRZ Premium has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It's a Boxer design and that means the cylinders are arranged horizontally for optimum balance and handling. This engine makes 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. Reduce these numbers by five if you choose the automatic. Power is sent to the rear wheels by means of a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission.

We find the BRZ one of the best cars in the business, excelling in all things steering, handling, and manual shifting. You’re not about to impress many people at the drag strip with its power, but you’ll find it a hoot to drive as you make your way down twisty roads, when carving corners, or pounding the track. The quick-shifting manual transmission combined with its equally fast steering will bring a smile to your face. A Torsen limited-slip differential delivers improved handling and grip.

Interior and Exterior

Subaru took a familiar design with the BRZ and boiled it down to a compact size. It has the look of a sports car, but not the power. Its proportionately long hood and small cockpit combined with its sporty stance make this model a looker.

Here, you’ll find a sharp profile, steep nose, sculpted flanks, and a falling roofline. A gaping grille, wraparound LED taillights, an available spoiler, and a diffuser are additional highlights. Even the wheel selection brings its own drama. Not a square inch of sheet-metal is wasted with this small coupe.

Inside, the BRZ offers room for four on paper. The front seats are snug, yet supportive, while the rear seats are ideal for cargo, not humans. The driver-oriented cockpit makes room for tall drivers and holds a passenger comfortably as well. We think people with track-designed driving on their minds will simply fold down the rear seat to accommodate a full set of track wheels and tires. For everyone else, the expanded storage space is welcome for week-long trips away from home.

The Best and Worst Things

Although not a sports car, the Subaru BRZ offers enough elements of one to give owners a taste of what’s available. Chances are you’ll be satisfied with the BRZ as it is or perhaps it will whet your appetite for a Porsche 911 or something more affordable, such as a Dodge Challenger.

We don’t like a car advertised for something it isn’t: a four-seater. Then again, we suppose insurance has something to do with offering a second-row seat.

Right For? Wrong For?

Subaru BRZ

Shoppers who are exploring compact performance models from Ford, Volkswagen, and others would do well to put the BRZ on their shopping lists. A big plus is its rear-wheel drive.

For hardcore enthusiasts, the BRZ doesn’t match their needs. Sure, it's fun to drive, but if you’re looking to blow the wheels off the competition, you won’t. So look elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

The 2018 Subaru BRZ is nearly everything it says it is and that’s just fine for certain types of drivers. A turbo version seems highly unlikely, but that’s not an issue for owners who place an emphasis on balance and handling.