BRZZZZZ. Subaru’s Angry New Teen

by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img Subaru ::: 2012 Subaru BRZ

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but car styling has definitely gone mad.

Take a Dodge Charger, for instance. It has the face of veteran boxer; all brooding with pent-up rage. Then you look at an Infiniti M45 and get the sense that if it were a man, he’d have sailed past his midlife crisis and straight into psychosis. Same goes for the BMW M5. And all the 2012 Kias and Hyundais, too. They all look like they suffer from some terrible chemical/hormonal imbalance.

Perhaps all this automotive anger on display is reflective of poor pay for design departments. Or maybe the national mood. Or maybe the way Venus and Mercury now appear so close together in the night’s sky. Whatever the case, the angry design theme that has taken over the industry has drifted over to the last place you’d ever expect to find it: Subaru.

At first, Subaru’s BRZ is a bit of a surprise. But then we’ve needed something hot and fast from the Japanese car company that built its reputation on all-wheel drive rally cars. In the past decade, Subaru’s spent a lot of time parlaying that success into serving up soft, dependable country wagons for people who used to drive Volvos. That means the BRZ is less about the ability to manage a washed out dirt road in Vermont as it is the ability to show up anything with Mods in Beantown. And it shows.

They borrowed plenty of design aspects from other cars with athletic credentials/pretentions. There’s a little bit of Lexus LF-A to the profile. Some Scion. A lot of Acura RSX. The huge front grille reminds you of Volkswagen’s IROC concept (2006) and those funny cleaved taillights seem to owe something to the previous BMW Z4. All possible design sources that when combined could suggest rage on four wheels.

That said, this is Subaru and so that means they couldn’t quite go all Motown on us. There’s enough softness in there to suggest that the BRZ is like a really angry teen going through that phase in life where he hates everyone and everything but he still loves his mom and dad. Give him space, you think. He’ll come round.

You just can’t take it too seriously. And that’s thanks to a tall profile and soft features like a hood that seems to flow softly from one wheel well arch to the next. Sure it has squinty Xenon lit eyes and tall rims meant for fast cornering but, the overall look of the car suggests that as aggressive as it wants to be it will likely be a very practical daily driver.

Inside, it’s a predictable montage of Nike inspired graphics. Loud contrast stitching. Metallic surfacing. Lots of buttons and electronics. It’s definitely built for those who have maximized their laptimes at Laguna Seca on their PS3.

So then, if the styling has any relationship to the way the BRZ performs (it’s said to have a Boxer engine built for balance) and it does the A-to-B-to-C-to-D-to-A frugally and without much complaint and it cares for the driver with just a moderate degree of comfort, we could have, finally, an angrier yet more civilized replacement for the WRX.

What kid who’s just got his license won’t want one?

March 21, 2012

About the Author: Gunnar Heinrich is publisher of Automobiles De Luxe online and is executive producer of the Automobiles De Luxe Television series on PBS member station CPTV.

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  1. They look like a hell of a lot of fun to me!

  2. Blame Toyota for the the basic body shape as in this partnership Subaru did the technical engineering and Yota got to dress it up.

  3. The first time I saw a photo of this new Sube, I was confused. It looked so… not Subaru. And no AWD?! But from everything I’ve heard, and from seeing some more of this car, it looks fantastic. Too bad Scion is getting it too. And that Toyota probably did enough of something to screw something up.

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