As I approached the office today I found myself at a stop light behind a red Scion FR-S. While waiting for the light to turn green, my mind wandered back to the good times I had with my BRZ. Road trips, track days, ice time trials, snowy parking lots… Then the $25,000 question popped into my head – do I miss my Subaru BRZ?
It’s been three months since I swapped my BRZ for my WRX. I happened to be driving my WRX today while I thought about this. The BRZ/FR-S/86 is certainly the more fun car to drive. It’s lighter, lower to the ground than the WRX, and has one of the best electric power steering systems I’ve driven, which are notorious for insulating you from feedback from the road. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the WRX does. The steering is too light and too isolated for my taste. That doesn’t mean it handles badly, though. Though few cars can equal the BRZ’s excellence in the handling department, the WRX does quite well. It rolls a bit more in the turns, as expected being taller and heavier, but by no means does it wallow, either. My car came with high performance all-season Yokohama tires rather than the Dunlop Sport Maxx summer tires the factory installed. But it’s still extremely competent in the corners, with limits far above what I can safely test on the street. Plus it never wags its tail the way the rear wheel drive BRZ always did.
Power is, of course, an absolute win for the WRX. It has a bunch more horsepower and torque, and all wheel drive puts it to the ground far more effectively than the BRZ, even after I replaced its original slippery “Prius tires.” This means I can squirt into tight gaps in traffic much more effectively than the BRZ, which is quite useful during my traffic filled commute. Left lane hogs are far less of a problem when I don’t have to plan a Miata style momentum pass to make sure I have enough speed to complete it before I run out of room.
The BRZ is certainly the more fun car to drive. It’s a true sports car, not an Impreza economy car turned into a hot hatch sedan. It’s an absolute dream on a twisty back road and on the track. I haven’t had the chance to try the WRX on a track yet (the day I signed up for got postponed to a day I can’t go). Though the power will be nice, I imagine that’s where its shortcomings to the BRZ will become more apparent.
But I rarely drive on the track. I don’t even get to hit the twisties very often. Where do I drive? Commuting. Almost exclusively. That’s a combination of dense highway traffic that usually moves along slightly slower than I’d prefer (see previous comment about left lane hogs), and back roads where I’m usually stuck behind a slow moving Prius. Such driving isn’t fun, no matter what car you’re in. In fact, the BRZ was worse at this than the WRX. Its stiff suspension that made it handle so well on the track transmits every bump and pothole straight to your spine. The WRX also has a firm ride, but it soaks up the bumps much better. It’s a more comfortable ride, but still firm enough to make the car handle well when you want it to. The more spacious interior is more comfortable, allowing me to sit more upright even with my car’s sunroof eating up a little headroom. It goes without saying that the extra space makes it a much more practical car than the BRZ, with a bigger trunk and a back seat that actual humans can fit in without amputations. I can get in and out of the WRX like the normal car it is, rather than the acrobatics I sometimes had to pull with my BRZ when another car parked too close to me. And with a COBB Stage 1 tune, the WRX is less jumpy off the line than either the BRZ or a stock WRX, making it much easier to drive in erratic traffic.
So as I sat there in traffic, behind the red FR-S, asking myself whether I miss my Subaru BRZ or not, what was my answer? Much to my surprise, the answer was no. I thoroughly enjoyed the car during the three years I had it. I have no regrets about buying it in the first place. It was the right car for me at the time. But that time has passed. Maybe one day I’ll get another as a toy/track car. The way depreciation is going, that shouldn’t take very long. But now, the WRX is the right car for me. It does everything I want and need.
Except haul big stuff. But that’s what the Jetta Ute will be for.
(Full disclosure: I am a Subaru Ambassador, because I really really like them.)