Our writer puts the limited-edition BRZ Series.Yellow to the test on the winding, scenic parkways of greater Washington, D.C.
There’s no shortage of reasons to visit the Washington, D.C. area, from the museums to the dining and nightlife, and I’ve enjoyed it all in my time. My most recent visit to our nation’s power nexus, though, was inspired when I was offered the chance to take the new Subaru BRZ Series.Yellow for a mini-road trip. Given the vehicle’s stellar agility, I could think of no better place to push the limits of the two-door sports coupe than the beautiful parkways around our nation’s capital. Nice work if you can get it, right?
Performance and Precision
In my opinion, the crown jewel for touring in the area is the 25-mile George Washington Memorial Parkway (G.W. Parkway), which runs along the Potomac River from Mount Vernon, Virginia, northwest to Langley. Designed for recreational driving, the G.W. Parkway links a number of major historical sites, including the Marine Corps War Memorial, Lady Bird Johnson Park and the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. By the end of my time with the car, I probably could have driven those 25 miles blindfolded – mainly because I was having so much fun I decided, at one point, to do it five times back-to-back! What can I say, except the knifelike precision of the BRZ makes you feel connected to the road in a way few other cars can replicate.
I quickly discovered that the BRZ Series.Yellow, powered by a 2.0-liter SUBARU BOXER engine, is all about gratifying levels of driver involvement. The 4-cylinder engine churns out 205 hp at 7,000 rpm and 156 lb-ft of torque at 6,400 rpm. Those numbers may not sound huge to an STI owner, but in a vehicle that weighs just over 2,800 pounds, those 205 ponies manage to launch the lithe coupe from 0-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. As I discovered late at night on the parkway, this 6.2-second sprint can be addictive – and requires some skill to achieve. Hitting 0-60 in 6.2 seconds requires your feet to be coordinated with your hands and your mind to be focused on the road as you shift through the 6-speed manual gear box until you’ve reached your target speed. In an automotive world that’s grown to favor electronic aides and automatic transmissions, the mechanical purity of the Series.Yellow and its hands-on driving experience is massively refreshing.
As my time with the car progressed, I began to truly appreciate the character of the boxer engine. Thanks to its configuration, the BRZ has an amazingly low center of gravity height of just 18.1 inches – lower than most luxury sports cars. Couple this with the performance enhancements of the Series.Yellow and you can really feel the advantages playing out – like when I made a last minute turn into Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate and home to some of the most beautiful grounds in the area.
Across the river from the G.W. Parkway is the Clara Barton Parkway, named after the Civil War nurse who founded the American Red Cross®. This drive highlighted other enhancements of the Series.Yellow, including the Sachs® performance shock absorbers on all four corners. Paired with reinforcements to the strut tower braces, rear wheel housings and transmission crossmember plate, these give the Series.Yellow uncanny agility. For 2017, Subaru also updated the stability control system of the BRZ, giving drivers the ability to select a little less intervention when in Track mode. In this mode, the Series.Yellow is a bit more playful, the limits are predictable and easily managed.
Another stop worth visiting along the G.W. Parkway is Fort Hunt. A military center during World War II, it now serves as a concert venue. It’s also a great place to visit for a picnic along the shore of the Potomac River. It was here where I first stopped to get out and admire the performance upgrades of the Series.Yellow. As I stepped out of the car and looked it over, a kid who looked to be about 8 years old came up and asked, “What are those red things in the tires?” I said, “Those are your best friend when you enter a corner a little too hot.” Surprisingly, he seemed to know exactly what I meant.
In fact, the Brembo®1 brakes are the same size brakes and rotors used on last year’s STI, though the BRZ weighs about 600 pounds less. This translates into a ton of braking performance for such a light car. Whether digging deep into the brakes for meandering tourists on the parkway or slowing down for an off-ramp, the braking performance of the BRZ is superior. To accommodate the larger calipers, it has wheels that are half an inch wider than on the standard model, measuring 17 inches by 7.5 inches. These blacked-out rims complement the black BRZ badging and black exterior mirror surrounds.
And then there’s the eye-popping color. Wherever I went with the Series.Yellow, it attracted a crowd, becoming the backdrop for many selfies. I had a lot of fun with its drawing power – especially when I pulled into the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City for lunch and the BRZ earned the top spot at the valet, being placed on display for all to admire.
The vehicle’s large rear spoiler is also hard not to notice. Designers wanted to update the look of the BRZ for 2017 while making the spoiler more functional. The result is a lightweight aluminum spoiler, now lifted off the rear body to improve downforce. Lifting the wing off the rear trunk lid gives the Series.Yellow a more purposeful look, which, combined with the rear diffuser and dual exhaust, makes it memorable from the rear.
Finally, the “Kono-Ji” style LED headlights are very distinctive and the new LED fog lights up front also aid nighttime visibility by producing a more natural white light. In back, the full LED taillights create a unique open-oval shape day or night.
Of course, the BRZ Series.Yellow doesn’t just look exclusive – it is exclusive, with only 500 of the limited-edition vehicles available.
Inside, the Series.Yellow adds a number of enhancements to the already sporty cabin. Yellow contrast stitching is visible throughout the cabin, accenting everything from the emergency brake to the sport seats to the door panels. I love the compact three-spoke sports steering wheel, which made maneuvering the tight twists and turns of the parkways a pleasure. And the yellow stitching on the wheel makes it look as great as it feels, while audio and various menu controls are right at your fingertips on the wheel for distraction-free adjustments. For example, the controls on the steering wheel adjust the 4.2-inch LCD multifunction display, which comes standard and is positioned to the right of the tachometer. Lateral G forces, braking force, battery voltage and a lap timer are just a few of the many vehicle data points accessible through this screen.
Also standard on the Series.Yellow is the excellent SUBARU STARLINK 6.2-inch Multimedia System.2
Even with all of that information at your fingertips, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find plenty of times behind the wheel of the BRZ Series.Yellow that you just want to enjoy the hum of the engine – just you and the car, nothing more, nothing less.
1 Brembo is a registered trademark of Freni Brembo S.p.A. 2 Compatible smartphone and application required. For applications to operate, latest version of each application and optional integrated audio and navigation system unit required. Data provided by smartphone is displayed on navigation screen. Some state laws prohibit the operation of handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Smartphone apps should only be launched when vehicle is safely parked. Your wireless carrier’s rates may apply.