After buying my new Subaru BRZ, I did a couple of mods. Below is my list of Subaru BRZ Modifications… Then, BRZ driving dynamics from my own experience.
This is a followup to my original story where I compared my NC Miata vs Subaru BRZ.
So here we go – Subaru BRZ mods:
- Free flowing air filter from Blitz
- Shift knob and reverse lockout courtesy of Raceseng
- Camber bolts by Whiteline
- Cusco accelerator pedal
- Stainless steel Speedbleeders
- Fumoto oil drain valve
- Dual oil catch cans by Radium Engineering
- All fluids and lubricants replaced with Motul products
Suspension is more or less stock, but I have been able to dial in a massive and impressive -1.0 degrees of camber up front (sarcasm). The mods I chose are within SCCA C-Street regulations since that’s the class I intend to compete in.
I’m still an active member of Miata.net and Miata drivers are the best car enthusiasts I’ve ever come across. So naturally, when a driving meet came up in the forums, I politely asked if I could join with the BRZ. They allowed me to come along. Needless to say, I was quite excited to drive the famous mountain roads along the border of North Carolina and Virginia. There were 4 of us. All 3 generations of Miata were there. All bone stock. Here’s a link to the route we did. Keep in mind that it’s not the exact route as there were modifications due to time constraints.
We started off in Greensboro, NC and made our way north to Mt. Airy, NC. We stopped at Wally’s Service Station, which was in the Andy Griffith show. Photo op! Along the way to VA, we also stopped at the largest open-face granite quarry in the world. Supposedly visible from space! Another photo op! After the sight-seeing, we headed north to the mountain roads to do some swift, spirited driving.
Dissecting the Subaru BRZ driving dynamics
First things first… Road manners. Having put a couple thousand miles in the BRZ, the stock suspension is probably the best stock suspension on any vehicle I’ve ever driven. It’s neither too stiff or too soft. It feels… just right. It absorbs bumps extremely well. There was never a point when I felt it was bone jarringly stiff or land yacht soft. It feels very much like the Ohlins DFV Coilovers I had on my old NC MX5 – One of those essential NC Miata Mods. The BRZ makes a comfortable cruiser when driving long distances. Yet, it’s able to handle like a true sportscar should. Truly the best of both worlds.
When pushed closer to the limits, the stiff chassis, low center of gravity, and sublime stock suspension work together to deliver a driving experience usually reserved for sports cars costing tens of thousands of dollars more. The electric steering, while not providing the same feedback as a hydraulic setup, is wonderful. It’s perfectly weighted, and razor-sharp precise. I can point the nose any which way I like. It’s not as quick to turn as say, a Miata, but the front end feels significantly more planted. Due to the low center of gravity, transitions are very well controlled. No mess, no fuss, and very little time to “settle” the suspension. I was able to tackle S-turns with confidence knowing that the car would neither push nor have the tail come around. Body roll is almost non-existent. The Miata driver behind me told me how impressively flat the BRZ corners. Being roughly 2800 pounds, it felt light and quick.
No one should exceed 8/10s on the street no matter how good they claim to be.
The one thing that really had me reluctant about going “maximum attack” on the corners were the stock Michelin Primacy HP tires (also found on UK spec Priuses). I stayed 7/10s and 8/10s driving. No one should exceed 8/10s on the street no matter how good they claim to be. Anyway, the stock tires performed quite admirably despite being low-rolling resistance econobox tires. They provided enough grip for the speeds we were going. As I got to know the tires, my confidence in them rose. I was able to brake a little later, and get on the power earlier. The tires whine when you’re nearing the limit and it’s audible from within the cockpit. As you get closer and closer to the limit, they start to squeal and lose grip predictably and controllably. The brakes are also quite good. I did not experience any fade. The initial bite feels nice and firm and it’s quite easy to modulate the pedal. I do feel that the stock pads could be improved upon. You can never have too much braking power.
About Subaru BRZ stability control
There are 4 stages of traction and stability control on the Twins. Full on, VSC sport, TC and VSC off, and full-full-off accomplished by the ‘pedal dance’. Doing the pedal dance will disable ANY and ALL nannies including the electronic brake distribution still present in TC and VSC off mode. Needless to say, that’s a potential recipe for disaster on unfamiliar roads. I decided to keep it in VSC Sport. In full on mode, the VSC kicks in a little to early, taking away any ability to go decently quick around corners. VSC Sport allows wheelspin, but will kick in and keep you in line if you get too overzealous. It worked very well. It never really kicked it when I wanted to push it. It allowed a little tail-out action and I was able to correct the vehicle without any intervention from the nanny.
As many of you may or may not know, the Subaru BRZ and Scion FRS have different tuning on their shock/spring setups. The FRS is more prone to being tail happy, while the BRZ is more planted and neutral. I personally prefer the planted feeling of the Subaru BRZ driving dynamics over the FRS. The BRZ is neutral at the limits of adhesion. It can push if you come in too hot. Applying throttle will make the rear come around and follow. A lot of throttle will induce oversteer. And all are very controllable conditions. This reason alone is what makes the BRZ an amazing driver’s car. It’s extremely stable while cornering. Even when going through mid-corner bumps, it remains stable and planted. It does amazingly well on sweeping corners as well as tight hairpins. The Torsen LSD does an amazing job providing power to the wheel which has the most grip. Everything works in harmony with each other so I can just focus on one thing; driving.
Many people feel that the engine is “underpowered.” I don’t really know why. It’s a high compression port and direct injected 2.0 liter boxer 4 that makes 100HP/Liter naturally aspirated. That’s impressive in my book. There’s only so much you can do to an NA 2.0 liter. It’s not going to win any drag races, which is fine in my book. Anyway, the engine is responsive and smooth. The meat of the power is above 4500 RPMs, and pulls smoothly and strong all the way to the 7500 RPM hard rev limit. The transmission is slick and as smooth as butter. Pair that with a responsive engine and the result is perfect heel-and-toe downshifting. It’s almost second nature for me to rev match with the BRZ. All of them perfect. It sounds quite good as well. Ever since I installed a high flow air filter, it sounds significantly throatier. The induction noise is quite good and the stock exhaust sound is nearly drowned out while in the cabin at full song.
The BRZ isn’t without faults. My biggest gripes are the rattles within the door panel. One way to mitigate this is to lock the doors. Yes, when the doors are unlocked and the speakers are blaring, there’s a rattling noise from right above the door speakers. Locking the doors takes care of this problem. Still, it’s a minor annoyance. The Subaru navigation unit is still confusing and cumbersome to use. I don’t think I’d ever learn to love it. Road noise is also quite prevalent, but not nearly as bad as a soft top convertible. Aside from those minor annoyances, the BRZ is an impressive sportscar that’s easy to drive and push to the limit.
More mods to come of course!
There are some modifications I plan to do. Wheels and tires, front sway bar, exhaust, and custom valved Bilstein B6 shocks. I almost feel like I don’t want to modify it, since it’s just so good in stock form! I will be taking the BRZ to autocross events this summer so I can fully drive at 10/10s maximum attack. I’ll run an event or two in stock form. Stay tuned for an article on that.
I sold my old NC MX5 for the BRZ. At the time, I felt that the BRZ was a compromise car, as I needed the room. Nothing could be further from the truth. What was once a car I felt was a compromise, is now a vehicle I’ve fallen in love with. The hype is real. If there is anyone reading this and is considering purchasing the BRZ or the FRS, appease the automotive gods and buy one! You’ll be doing yourself a favor.