The Subaru/Toyota twins have been around for almost half a decade now and I thought they were old news, but this bright yellow BRZ got a ton of attention, proving that the Japanese sport coupe still oozes appeal.
Engine: 2.0L flat four-cylinder
Output: 205 hp, 156 lb-ft (manual)
Transmission: 6-speed manual
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 21 city, 29 hwy (manual)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 11.0 city, 8.0 hwy (manual)
US Price: $30,515
CAN Price: Starts at $34,345 (all prices include destination)
What was it about this car that got it so many fans during my test drive? It could be the bright yellow paint job, but a similar shade was offered on older limited edition Scion FR-S models in 2015. Maybe it’s the big brakes and new wheels that come with this special model? No, that can’t be it either — BRZ buyers in the U.S. can get these upgrades with the car as part of a Performance Package.
Maybe it’s just the sheer rarity of the vehicle. Only 500 Subaru BRZ Series Yellow models will be sold in the U.S. Canada will get only 120 of the bright yellow coupes badged as the Inazuma Edition, which derives its name from the Japanese word for lightning.
What is Special in This Special Edition Model?
Functionally speaking, the special edition cars are essentially the same but Canadians may be seeing more value in the vehicle, since the previously mentioned Brembo brakes weren’t available in the True North until now. In addition to the brakes, these models get upgraded suspension components and Sachs-branded dampers to give the car some designer, name brand flair. Dark wheels help accent the red brake calipers and many of the other trim pieces have been blacked-out as well.
In terms of performance upgrades, there’s nothing more than the extra grip and handling offered by the brakes and suspension change. Handling was never an issue with the BRZ, however, as the responsive sports coupe has always changed direction at the driver’s whim. It can be a bit stiff, but that’s the way lightweight, sporty cars are supposed to be. The car handles superbly, and not just in that “on-rails” way. It can cut sharply but also rotate easily, with the very balanced chassis easily allowing the driver to play around.
The steering is also a huge part of the driving dynamics and it might be one of the best electric power-assisted steering racks in the business. The steering is consistent and communicative, with the right amount of feedback to help the driver have a sense of what the wheels are up to, all useful traits to have when driving on a track or on back roads. The upgraded brakes might seem a bit overkill for street use, but more braking power can’t hurt. They help bring the sub-3,000-pound coupe to a stop quickly and convincingly.
Same Under the Hood
But as I said, handling was never a shortcoming for the BRZ. In fact, Subaru bolstered the car’s strengths and kind of ignored what critics called a weakness. Power output from the 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder is still pegged at 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque, meaning this special edition model has no power upgrades over every other BRZ on the market. Although it doesn’t make the BRZ fast, it’s not a bad engine and is certainly full of character. It sounds unique, for one, as most flat engines do, and it spins quite high, up to a redline of 7,400 rpm.
Either due to gearing or the tuning of the engine, whenever you shift before 7,000 rpm on the tachometer, you get a fairly unsatisfactory sense of thrust. As a result, some may criticize the car for feeling slow, but it feels fast when you have fun with it, and that goes a long way towards the fun factor of this vehicle. In a perfect world, a special edition vehicle should have some kind of powertrain upgrade, be it special exhaust tuning or a power bump, but this car has nothing like that to lure buyers of the normal BRZ.
Inside, the yellow and black theme continues. Yellow stitching is found everywhere: The floormats even have yellow stitching just like the seats, door, dashboard, steering wheel, knee pads, and shift boot. The seats also host a yellow stitched BRZ logo. If you don’t like the color yellow, perhaps this isn’t the right car for you.
The special edition stuff ends with that, but the BRZ cabin was updated in 2017 with a slightly more modern and refined design. Appreciated features on this model include dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, keyless entry, and rear view camera. The touchscreen head unit in the Canadian model we tested still feels very dated and slow, but American models have a slightly more modern setup that uses the Subaru Starlink system.
Another interesting feature is the multifunction display in the gauge cluster that can display G forces, pedal position, braking force, steering angle, oil and water temperature, in addition to an integrated stop watch for recording lap times. It’s not the prettiest display, but it also includes information that past BRZ models didn’t have like a distance-to-empty readout. As a result of this new display, the car gets a new steering wheel with buttons on it so you can answer calls and change media settings without taking your hands off the wheel. Subaru previously explained that the wheel was bare due to a focused approach to driving, but that’s out the window with all these new features.
The cabin is still cramped, but it’s well tailored to the driver. The ergonomics of the shifter, steering wheel, and pedals are excellent, although the clutch grab point is annoyingly high up on the pedal travel and it takes some getting used to.
The Verdict: 2017 Subaru BRZ Series Yellow Review
The bright Series Yellow special edition car comes in at $30,515, which is just $855 more than a Limited model with the Performance Package. In Canada, the Inazuma is priced at $34,345, which is a difference of $2,700 from the Sport Tech model.
It seems like a reasonable price premium to pay for an exclusive model that really makes an impression everywhere it goes. People barely slow down for yellow traffic lights, but they certainly slow down to stare at this yellow Subaru.