Subaru’s BRZ a pure masterstroke


THE BRZ is Subaru’s masterstroke, breathing new life into the rear-wheel drive coupe market that was once so vibrant.

With 200PS on tap, it’s quick but not concussively so, but the real joy in this car comes through the tactility of its controls and the purity of its handling. A certain winner.

Ignore all those who claim that the BRZ isn’t quick enough. Yes, it will just about dip under eight seconds to 60mph if you have a heavy right boot and can manage one good gearchange and the 200PS power output is routinely bested by all manner of humble hatchbacks, but it’s how it drives rather than what numbers it makes that underscore what a special vehicle this is.

The key point is that it’s a normally aspirated, front-engined, rear-wheel drive coupe. For the keen driver, it doesn’t get much purer than that.

Plumb in a boxer engine that helps it to a centre of gravity lower than a Ferrari 458, add a proper mechanical limited slip differential and offer a six-speed manual gearbox with three pedals in the footwell and you have what most would agree is a very good start.

Even from this point it would have been easy to get things wrong. But Subaru didn’t. They failed quite spectacularly on that score.

The BRZ is so right in so many ways it’s almost as if the hand of Porsche has worked upon it. There’s a simplicity to its controls, a delicacy and tactility to the steering and the pedals that offer the keen driver so much.

It does its best work way up at around 7,000rpm and while it lacks the torque to power slide around like you would in a Nissan 350Z, the BRZ is nevertheless a great vehicle to learn about how weight transfer affects vehicle dynamics at the limit.

If that all sounds a little Pseud’s Corner for you, rest assured that it has a great hand brake. The sport setting on the stability control allows the tail to feel a little lively, but get the car on a track and you’ll have hours of fun with all the driving aids switched out.

There’s also a version available with a torque converter auto which, upon first acquaintance, would seem to detract a lot from the BRZ experience.

One of the fundamentals in the design of the BRZ was to keep weight down. As a result of this, the car tips the scales at a mere 1220kg, or less than something like a Renaultsport Clio 200 hatch.

Despite this, the BRZ feels surprisingly spacious inside and a glance over your shoulder reveals a lot more room in the back than you’d find in something like an Audi TT or a Peugeot RCZ.

The Subaru BRZ is a very special car. The hype machine went into overdrive a long time back and it would be entirely understandable if even a very talented vehicle failed to live up to the fevered anticipation.

Despite that it’s better than the true (WR) blue Subaru optimist could hope to expect. There’s a beautiful simplicity about the car that speaks of paring back to the essence of driving purity, including just enough of what is needed and nothing that is not.

The automotive Philistine will look upon the BRZ as a car that will be outdragged by a hot Clio and costs a good deal more.

They will note that it runs on the same tyres as a Toyota Prius and conclude that it’s all hype and no heft but nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s a hero car for our times, one that rewards the properly talented driver and doesn’t make the less proficient feel clumsy or unworthy. And yes, in the final reckoning, it’s a proper Subaru.


CAR: Subaru BRZ

PRICE: £24,995 - £27,995


CO2 EMISSIONS: 164-181g/km

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph 7.6s Top Speed 137mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 36.2mpg (combined)

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: ESP, VDC, ABS with EBA, front, side, curtain and knee airbags

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 4240/1775/1425