We Bought a 2013 Subaru BRZ


Each year Cars.com names a "Best Of" winner that our editors pick as the ultimate car we've driven over the past 12 months. This year, the award went to two cars, the nearly identical Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports coupes. Before we determined the winners, we had already decided that whichever car won our Best Of award would get a spot in our long-term test fleet.

Our winner was decided late on a Friday, and we put a deposit down by the following Thursday.

I was tasked with buying one of the two cars, and it turned out to be one of the simplest car purchases I've ever made. Here's why.

This was an unusual car purchase in many ways. We knew the two cars were hot commodities and often required a wait to get a manual version, especially the Subaru. We checked on forums as well as our own data and came to the same conclusion: If we found one on a lot we should buy it right away because it might not be around for long.

Helping shape the timeline, there were about six weeks before our award and the car were to be unveiled under bright lights in Detroit.

I started by doing what any good online car shopper should do: I sent some queries to dealers listing FR-S and BRZ coupes on Cars.com. There weren't many cars available and half were white or silver — two colors none of the editors were interested in.

We found a Firestorm red Scion FR-S with a manual transmission at the base price of $24,995 at Schaumburg Toyota in suburban Chicago. This is a dealership that one of our editors and his family has purchased cars from for years and had only good things to say about it. Less than an hour after sending a query, we had an email back — I used a personal email account — saying the car was available.


A follow-up call came minutes later. The salesman seemed upfront about the car and said that it might go quickly.

Because it was a Scion with its no-haggle policy, the salesman happily sent me the price quote in electronic ink.

Editors Joe Wiesenfelder, Joe Bruzek and Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen gathered around my cubicle and debated the FR-S' color; we had our hearts set on black or dark blue, but there just weren't many manuals available.

We were almost ready to go for it, but we figured a few more email queries wouldn't hurt.

I sent an email to Evan, a salesman at Evanston Subaru who sold me and my wife our last two Outbacks, to see if he had any info on the lone BRZ in his inventory. It was fully loaded with a six-speed manual and Crystal Black Silica paint color, but it was a much more expensive $28,688 before tax, title and license fees.

I did not have to pick up the phone once in my exchanges with the Evanston Subaru salesman. Everything was done via email, including getting a full quote, the price we'd need to write a check for and, of course, the fact that we weren't getting any kind of deal on this specific car. It would be priced at the MSRP.

The fact that the FR-S was a no-haggle Scion and the BRZ was an in-demand Subaru effectively took negotiating on price out of the equation.

The first time I bought a car from Evan he did not know what I did for a living, but since then I've disclosed where I work and what I do. I would say the only preferential treatment we received was due to the fact that I was a loyal customer who had also referred others to him to get their new cars.

We had a delivery date three weeks out but also three weeks from our awards show; Evan said the BRZ was likely to get in on time or earlier.

With that fear out of our minds, Joe, Joe, Patrick and I once again huddled and discussed the value of buying the value version of the Scion versus the more expensive, decked-out Subaru. The low starting price was one reason that the two cars won us over in voting for the Best Of title. Could we really justify spending nearly 15% more for heated sports seats, keyless start and entry, and navigation — all in the color we wanted?


Well, yes. Yes, we could.

It took another day of emailing Evan about the deposit check and how and when to get it to the dealership, so it was essentially two days from beginning the search to having the car reserved. The final price after the 9.5% local sales tax and various document fees was $31,826.

The salesman from Schaumburg Toyota followed up with a phone call. I explained why "I" made the decision to go with the BRZ, and he was understanding about it, saying he didn't blame me for making that call in the least and to enjoy the car.

The BRZ arrived at the dealership while I was on vacation, so Patrick, Joe and Joe headed there to take final delivery. With check in hand, it took less than an hour to process and sign the paperwork. Then they were handed two fobs to our new baby.


We've put only light miles on the car since then; it's still in the 1,000-mile break-in period, so we're not going to make any judgments about whether we made the right decision with our Best Of award. After we have a year of driving the BRZ in all four seasons, testing its performance, evaluating its comfort as a daily driver and finding out if any of us get aggravated enough with the nav system to rip it out of the dash, we'll know for sure if it lives up to our expectations.

We'll be writing regular reports for the next year. If there are specific areas you want us to write about leave your suggestions in the comment section below.

2013 Best of Awards
Research the 2013 Subaru BRZ and 2013 Scion FR-S
When an Auto Writer Buys a Car: Part I



9.5% sales tax? OUCH!


The Scion version is just slightly prettier. I kinda wish I could afford/justify buying one of these!

Carlos Pero

I have been so tempted by these! As a Toyota fan, have been leaning towards the Scion, and I think its details look better. But I do like the dashboard and premium features of the Subaru too.

Doug G

Car looks great, but I think I'd feel a little depressed every time a random sedan with a v6 casually outpaced me from a red light while I hammered through gears and struggled to keep up.

This car isn't about stoplight performance though. But it's still pretty quick. We're still keeping the revs low though through our break in period.

Doug G

Yeah, I know. But it LOOKS like its about stoplight performance unfortunately, which means the guy in the V6 Camry next to you is going to take notice. But I guess if you ever end up on a windy mountain road with him you can get paybacks.

Chano W.

Congrats! I picked up my CBS BRZ Limited 6MT in October. I live in Alaska and have been having a blast driving it on the ice and snow. Proper studded tires will do you good. In fact, it's snowing heavily right now and I can't wait to get off work and drive home!

Sorry your sales tax is so high. We don't have that in Alaska. I also paid MSRP, but put about $3k down.

Hopefully you guys enjoy it for the long haul! Its shortcomings are overshadowed by the driving experience.

It is unfortunate that the car looks like a stoplight racer. I had a Camaro SS test me before the snow fell. I just giggled and let him take off. You guys have to keep in mind that the performance numbers for this car are on par with a stock 2002-2003 Subaru WRX sedan, so it's actually VERY quick, even though it doesn't seem so on paper and lacks AWD.


I thought I was one of the last people to observe break in procedures for new cars, so it`s great to learn cars.com is treating the new subie right. Many journalists tend to drive new cars pretty hard. An article on how to break in a new ride with advice from experts would be very interesting.

Dave A.

Just traded my 2011STI in on a BRZ. Best trade ever. Sure, I don't have the turbo acceleration, but the overall balance, drive quality, and style are well worth it.


The fresh/breeze twins are terrible.
The engine should have been a 2.5 liter, with revised gearing. So no reduction in EPA mileage, with a substantial increase in real world performance.
The weight distribution it Mustang terrible.
Practicality is almost non-existent.
The only advantage is that you can get 16" winter tires/wheels over the brakes.
Very safe mid-life crisis toys.


you're forgetting one point to these cars... Tuning. The original AE86 is a tuner's car. The impreza is a tuners as well. just go over the net and you'll probably see uptuned version of these. I'm predicting an upscale version coming soon. With turbo/supercharger with a re-tuned transmission.


The idea these cars aren't adequate stop light performers is ridiculous. I've put more than 10,000 miles on a BRZ, no one has passed me on the highway or gotten out of the box quicker stop light to stop light. You really need to drive one of them to appreciate what you get for the $$$

Dave Mills

We've had our BRZ for about a month. The car was ordered over a year ago and arrived the day I was finalizing the purchase of a new WRX (had grown tired of waiting for the BRZ). I was standing there and the truck just pulled in.
I was expecting to be disappointed with the performance compared to the WRX, not at all. The car is just fun! Sure you can get quicker. I don't need it. I come from 20+ years of motorcycle road racing and track school instruction. This car is impressively direct and purposeful. Over the years I've learned a few truisms: horsepower generally looked to as a crutch to compensate for mistakes and it is always WAY more fun to drive/ride a slow thing fast then it is to have to drive a fast thing slow :)

Tony M. Tampa FL

Have had a red BRZ for 2 months now. If you're worried about somebody beating you from a stop light, you don't get what the BRZ is all about. It's about coming into 90 degree curves at 50mph and coming out if it at 45 and not feeling the curve. It's about making a right hand turn in 2nd gear, accelerating through the turn and feeling the back end push out to the left to aid you around the corner. I have 370z's and MBW's rip past me on city streets as I've gently passed them on a 3 lane hiwy. Whatever. There was the Shelby Mustang that ripped away from a red light, making sure I knew who was faster. I can't help but laugh. They don't get it. They've got their thing and I've got mine. I had a Legacy GT before the BRZ. 0-60 in 5.6. Much faster than the BRZ, but no where as much fun. If you used to be a big cruise control user like me, notice how much you rarely use it anymore, even on those straight boring highways.


For $31,000 one can buy a fully loaded Camaro LT2, top-of-the line V6. Then why BRZ ?


"For $31,000 one can buy a fully loaded Camaro LT2, top-of-the line V6."

No you can't, not even including the current rebate.

"Then why BRZ ?"

...because it's cheaper than a Camaro and you can see out of the back.


Are you splitting hairs over the "fully loaded" part because you can get a 2LT with the RS package for less than $31k and still have $1500 rebate money for additional options.


"Are you splitting hairs over the 'fully loaded' part..."

I wouldn't call it splitting hairs, but I see what you're saying. When I read "fully-loaded" and "top-of-the-line" I built with sunroof, MyLink Navigation, stripes and some other things.

She's a beaut! First time I've seen a BRZ, and I'm a fan of the design. I'll have to check if there's one of those Subaru in MA. http://www.beardsubaru.com

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