Is The Subaru BRZ All Wheel Drive?

Following a somewhat rocky beginning with quirky cars like the tiny 360, Subaru carved out a successful niche in the U.S. market. By offering reliable and reasonably priced all-wheel drive cars and SUVs, Subaru offered the perfect vehicles for snowy climates or drivers with an adventurous streak yearning to venture off-road. 

Subaru is so tightly associated with the all-wheel drive movement that some consumers are under the impression that the brand's entire lineup is AWD, but there is one exception: the rear-wheel-drive-only BRZ sports car. The reason that the BRZ is so unlike its Subaru siblings is that it's the product of a partnership with Toyota, and its now-defunct subsidiary Scion. 

Designed to compete against the likes of Mazda's Miata, the compact coupe was developed jointly with two other cars, Toyota's 86 and Scion's FR-S. That collaborative process required some compromises in design, one of which was adopting a rear-wheel drive platform. Although some Subaru fanboys are ever hopeful that a factory-produced AWD BRZ will eventually surface, that's unlikely for a couple reasons.

There just isn't room for it

Now in its second generation, the BRZ uses one of Subaru's signature horizontally-opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engines, which is quite flat in profile, giving the BRZ a low center of gravity. At 18.1 inches, it's one of the lowest in the world. Similarly, the engine is located far rearward in the engine bay to yield a nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution, which delivers its characteristically splendid handling. 

In a nutshell, there simply isn't room for the additional components necessary for AWD without disturbing the BRZ's current synergy and balance. In comments made to CarBuzz, Subaru Planning Manager Tod Hill stated "No way can you make BRZ AWD. Right now it has almost supercar center of gravity height and an AWD system would ruin that. We're happy with it."

All-wheel drive or no, the latest BRZ is still an incredible deal for the sports car enthusiast. Starting at just $29,615, its non-turbocharged engine — the lack of which is another point of contention among hardcore Subaru fans — offers 228 horsepower which seems modest, but the BRZ only weighs a paltry 2,815 pounds.