Cult Cars | Subaru BRZ

MyDrive | Cult Cars
Written by Andrew Harbrow, Photography by Andrew Harbrow.

For decades, we have seen them brace the automotive world; some lasting longer in the limelight than others. Many are updated, but are hardly ever reincarnated. So when Toyota and Subaru jumped into bed together to create a new, affordable, lightweight, rear wheel drive sports coupe; a successor to the famed Toyota AE86 was born.

The end result is Toyota’s 86, and Subaru’s BRZ. Both built off the same platform, but carry slightly different levels of specifications, aesthetics and a different oval-shaped badge. We only have the BRZ to sample on this occasion and Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges is an ideal place to test its competences.

Ill be quite frank from the start: The BRZ is a tight squeeze for someone who is 197cms tall. Putting a helmet on would be out of the question with the standard seat. However once in the car, the driver’s seat in the BRZ is a fantastic place to be. The driving position is spot on, with a great view of the pronounced wheel arches, assuring you know where the wheels are when trying to attack the next apex.

Power is sourced from Subaru’s new 2.0 litre FA20 Boxer engine. Whilst the boxer configuration does wonders for the cars centre of gravity; it doesn’t do much in terms of exploiting the BRZ’s brilliant chassis overall. It is well documented that the 147kW/250Nm seems underpowered compared to other cars in the category, and it shows.  You really have to rev the BRZ to get any real forward momentum out of it. High up in the rev range it does sound great; but it still lacks the mid range urge and overall speed a turbocharged engine would in such a lightweight car.

Having said that, and without getting too carried away in the politics of what should and should not have gone into the production versions; the BRZ is an absolutely brilliant to drive. Its steering is razor sharp, even if it shares the same tyres a Toyota Prius. There is hardly any slop in the steering rack, and its weighting is perfect. This car proves you don’t have to be traveling fast to have a whole lot of fun. If you do not get out of this car without a smile on your face: you were born without a pulse.

Point the BRZ towards your favourite bit of blacktop and you will be rewarded. The six speed manual transmission we tested had a great feel. While the clutch felt extremely light, the STi sourced gearbox provided a great shift feel, whilst its ratios feel well matched to the engines output. Brakes on the BRZ are not one of its strong points, and the sliding caliper setup didn’t instill me with much confidence when trying to work them on downhill runs. There is not much pedal feel, with the brakes seeming to feel quite binary in their application. They were there; or they weren’t.

The taught suspension has great compliance, absorbing large bumps with ease, yet still communicating to the driver exactly what the chassis is doing underneath them. Push hard into a corner and the BRZ will let you know before the Michelins relinquish grip. Even when they do, a quick handful of opposite-lock will bring the BRZ’s rear end back into line. Controllable? You bet. Fun? Absolutely.

And that neatly sums up the BRZ overall: Fun. Yes, it may be underpowered, but the car’s brilliant dynamics almost put a quash to the lack of power completely. You get that sense of ‘what if’’ after stepping out of it, however that detracts from the experience. It is such an engaging car to drive that you tend to forget about what isn’t in it, and focus on what they have done superbly.

It undoubtedly deserves the title of a Cult Car.

Cost (AUD) $37,150
Warranty 3 Years
Weight 1256Kg / 2769lbs
Weight Split 52 – 48 Split Front to Rear
Engine 2.0 NA FA20 Horizontally opposed Boxer Engine.
Power 147kW / 205Nm
Gearbox 6MT
0 – 100 (0-62) 7.6 seconds
Safety Rating 5 Star
Availability (AUS) 201 now sold with another 140 secured for Australia.
Features 17-inch alloy wheels, electronic stability control,  auto on/off bi-xenon headlights, alloy pedals, dual-zone air-conditioning, cruise control, CD audio and Bluetooth, leather-wrapped and stitched steering wheel, handbrake and gearshift lever, sports seats, fog lights and daytime running lights, trip computer, electric windows, engine start/stop button, limited-slip rear differential and seven airbags.


For further information on Subaru and the Subaru BRZ, click >

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