REVIEW: 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited – Best Affordable Sports Car In America?

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The 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited is an amazing car, but an even more amazing bargain.

What is it? 

The 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited is the latest model year of an iconic sports car co-developed with Toyota. The car has evolved just a bit during its many years of production and remains a smashing deal. This is a rear-wheel drive coupe with all the go-fast bits and is a straight up sports car in the true meaning of the word. It exists among many pretenders who would have you think front wheel drive can ever really be a sports car layout.

Pricing and trims

The 2017 Subaru BRZ comes in just two flavors. Premium is the base trim and starts at $26,315. The Limited we tested starts at $28,465. Fans looking for the most bang for the buck should know that the engine, transmission, and limited slip differential is the same on both cars, so bargain hunters may want to start with the Premium. The only performance item we could see that Subaru holds back on that trim is the Brembo brake package the Limited comes with.

Our $29,660 BRZ Limited came with the Option Package 2, which added The Brembo brakes, a performance suspension, and High Luster Dark Gray Alloy Wheels.


The Subaru BRZ scored only acceptable on the IIHS small frontal overlap test and has no active safety features. That puts it on par with the Miata and Camaro.

The only safety feature of note in our BRZ Limited was the backup camera. Due to the blind spots over both shoulders and relatively small glass area, it is an important tool when moving the BRZ around.


Finally, we get to the performance. Here is where the BRZ Limited really shines. Overall, the BRZ is a very impressive machine. It’s not a muscle car, but a true sports car.

The BRZ uses a 2.0-liter boxer engine from Subaru with 205 hp in manual transmission cars like ours. It pulls very strongly from a start with a perfect clutch action and the rear limited slip differential putting all the power to the ground. As revs build the pull flattens out a bit, and around town, the car feels quick, but not fast. Most tests peg the BRZ at about 6.1 seconds from 0-60 MPH. That is just a tad behind the new Miata and a bit quicker than the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth.

The six-speed manual is a gem. Shifts are easy to place in a hurry and the pedals are perfect for rev-matching downshifts. We loved it as much as the new Miata’s gearbox. It is better than the older Miata gearbox that Fiat uses in the 124 Spider. One practical and cool feature is the lift to select gearshift lockout for reverse. It works better than the push-down type in the Miata and Fiat. Hey, look! A track mode a button to disable traction control!

Ride and handling

What a blast it is to corner in this sports car. The steering is freed up from doing any work since the car is powered by the rear wheels. Any driver can put this car exactly where they want it in a turn. The BRZ Limited’s low center of gravity means it corners very flat, much flatter than a Miata in fact, and it feels more capable. The Miata is a bit tippy in turns, but in a good way that is hard to explain. There is none of that in the BRZ. It is all business. We have tracked older models of the BRZ and it is completely at home on a closed course. It is relatively easy to get the BRZ to slide in a turn too, which adds to the fun.


The heated, manually-adjusted front seats of our tester were fantastic. The Limited trim gets Alcantara fake suede that feels rich and expensive. Finding a perfect position is easy due to the telescoping tilt steering wheel. The BRZ feels larger inside than a Miata or spider. There was at least three inches of headroom above me and I am six-feet tall. I also did not feel cramped in the seat. This is all relative of course. We mean all this by comparison to cars like the Fiat Spider.

There are a couple of little jump seats in the back of the BRZ. During our time with the BRZ Limited, we put six-year-old in the back for a short trip and she fit perfectly. Stuffing a teen in back would be a challenge.


The cargo area of the BRZ is huge. We mean that again in comparison to other small rear-drive sports cars. We slid in a folded six-foot by three-foot picnic table, a lawn chair, three fishing rods, a tackle box, medium cooler, and a backpack and had more room to spare. The genius is that the rear seatbacks fold flat. Under the cargo floor is a compact spare tire! This is a huge bonus.

Infotainment and controls

Our test vehicle did not have navigation and it was missed. Nor does Subaru offer Apple Car Play or Android Auto. There is a subscription-based Magellan smart phone-based navigation system, but we cannot comment on it other than to say, why not just have Apple Car Play and Android Auto if the car does not offer built-in nav? We found the audio system average. The internet is abuzz with owners talking about pulling out this system and inserting an aftermarket unit.  Frankly, it’s a bummer. Subaru overcomplicates something that should be super simple.


The 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited is a fantastic sports car that is available to anyone with a low budget. It delivers driving pleasure, practicality compared to the Miata and Fiat Spider, and has matured nicely over its five years of production.

Infotainment aside, we think the BRZ is one of the best true sports cars on the market today for on-road or track use.

2017 Subaru BRZ Limited

Base price: $ 27,645

Price as tested, $ 29,660 including $820 destination charge:  


Performance Package: $1,195
Brembo Brakes
SACHS Shocks and Struts
High Luster Dark Gray Alloy Wheels


  • Perfect Handling
  • Excellent Gearbox
  • Perfect Size
  • Spare Tire!


  • Nav Makes No Sense
  • Audio Mediocre
  • No Lumbar Support
John Goreham

John Goreham